More than baby steps yesterday.

I made a big step forward in figuring out how to use some of the reference monitors to better color correct my T2i footage, especially skin tones.

This cheap $2 card card has come in handy when I thought for sure that it was never going to get used.

Please let me know if I am still going about it the wrong way, for some reason it seems like I am on the right track because the quality of color I am achieving.


  • If you are trying to achieve an accurate representation of the colors and not a specialized look, I think you are on the right track. The only thing I would suggest is to watch out for those blacks.

    Around 4:28 or so watch the shadow area just to the right of your head. (I think it’s the closet?) There are two definite colors in the flat style, then when you flip to the new settings, it becomes one black mass.

    In the real world there is always detail in the shadows. Unless your in an environment devoid of light. By crushing the blacks too much you loose the detail in the blacks and you end up with a more digital, over contrasty feel to the image. If that’s the look you’re going for then sweet. But if your going for a more organic feel leaving some detail in the blacks helps.

    I’ve been watching a ton of trailers on recently to get a feel for what the pros are doing with color, and one thing i have noticed, besides that almost every movie follows the orange and cyan palette, is that you rarely see true black. The letter box is always black and nothing in frame is ever really quite as dark. Except for certain situations, such as a build up scene in a horror film or transition scene.

    but on the other hand almost every amateur short film or camera test on youtube has the blacks crushed into total oblivion and a blue or green haze over the rest of the image.

    I really appreciate the fact that you are actually taking the time to learn and understand all of these things and then sharing it with us. I think that’s a great example to set. Not to mention it’s a breath of fresh air in an ocean of one click magic bullet presets.

    Not that I think MB is bad, just that tools like it get abused, and the knowledge to do it correctly or even well is lost to laziness or ignorance to another better way.

  • Dave play with Portrait studio it has a fantastic curve, don’t forget are not just the settings is the curve.
    Trying to convert flat to normal gets more contrasty, and loss the tones you gain with this profile and by itself is horrible.

  • @Felipe thanks for the link, I found that before. To be honest it is not my favorite style for skin tone with the experiments I have run for some reason. I think it is a little too magenta.

  • @ORyan “Around 4:28 or so watch the shadow area just to the right of your head. (I think itโ€™s the closet?) There are two definite colors in the flat style, then when you flip to the new settings, it becomes one black mass.”

    Good point – I need to be more careful with the blacks thanks for pointing that out!

  • Hey Dave!
    This was super helpful! Thank You!
    Quick Question: I have a canon 7D, I use final cut pro, and I’ve been compressing H.264 into Apple ProRess LT (philip bloom workflow) but I read on Shane Hurlbu’s blog that Adobe Premiere was designed with Canon’s H.264 codec in mind and that there was no need to compress. This supposedly gives you much more latitude with color correction. What’s your workflow?
    Happy New Year!!

  • Dave,

    I have not done much of video post processing, but I do a lot of Still work and working with the levels as you have done here tends to clip the blacks AND the whites! If you watch at your shoulder, but more specifically to the back of the monitor, you are, by using the levels as you are at the beginning of the video, actually losing dynamic range when the whole idea behind shooting flat style is to increase it!

    In stills, there was a great tutorial somewhere that explained how, if you use levels, you are clipping the blacks and whites, BUT, if you use CURVES you can keep all the detail in both whites and blacks while still increasing contrast (by giving them an S shape).

    Have you tried using a Curves modifier instead of the levels inside the color corrector? I believe you will have better dynamic range and you will keep the detail on the stripes on the back of your monitor and on the fabric of your jacket.

    Anyway, thanks for a very instructive tutorial! Great hearing you are making so much progress and helping us in the way! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Best regards,

  • @Rafa that is a really good point I will try editing it in Photoshop next with curves so I can get a better idea what is going on.

  • @Dave – I really enjoyed this piece. I have no concrete understanding of color and largely mess with all the dials until it looks right. You did a good job of putting some definition to how the color correction tools and scope works.

    Someone mentioned RGB curves and photoshop. I found this tutorial really fascinating:

  • Dave, by the way, I was talking about Curves WITHIN Premiere, so you don’t have to trouble your work flow with imports exports. The work just as good, from my limited testing on video.

    Looking forward to your findings, as always,

  • Hi Dave, great tutorial, I’ve been color correcting for a while and still learnt something with this vid. keep it up mate, you’re doing a great job.

  • Hey Dave. Thanks for all of the time you take to share this information with us.

    I would start out correcting the tonal range/luma levels – as you do in the video. But I would view primarily the Waveform Monitor to get the blacks, whites, and mids in the right spots – rather than trying to eye it – and of course scroll though the video to look for any changes throughout the clip.

    For color correcting I would use the RGB Parade and the Vectorscope. The levels in the RGB Parade should be relatively the same for each color (RGB). You can also see whether a certain color range is clipping in the highlights or blacks and adjust just that color range accordingly.
    I use Vectorscope to measure saturation levels mostly. **Another tip with the Vectorscope to get ‘good’ skin tones is to crop the image down to just a patch of mostly skin then use that line you were talking about in the Vectorscope. This way you eliminate the other colors in the image and can concentrate on the skin. You can then remove the crop and correct for the rest of the image.

    From there, you can start creating a ‘look’ if you like. Just try to stay ‘in bounds’ in the scopes as much as possible. But on the other hand, if it’s not going to broadcast, don’t worry about breaking the rules.

    Thanks again for including us all in your learning process.