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kye

The peer-to-peer colour grading thread

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1 hour ago, kye said:

If you want to learn a thing or two, take the original images and then match everyones grades as close as you possibly can.  If you can't work out what someone did, ask them and then try that.  You will learn a bunch about what the knobs all do, but you'll also learn more about what you like and what 'works' according to your eye and preferences.

Yeah I'll try that, a lot of colors look grey to my poorly calibrated eyes.

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33 minutes ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Yeah I'll try that, a lot of colors look grey to my poorly calibrated eyes.

A trick in grading you can do to 'see better' is to add a contrast/saturation effect at the very end to both shots.  

I'd suggest:

  • Start with normal settings and get the right colour space transformation
  • Sat=0 and just match the overall contrast and gamma curve
  • Sat=0 with added contrast to fine-tune the gamma adjustments
  • Sat=150-200% with normal contrast to exaggerate the colours and match the WB, saturation of various hues, and any tints to shadows / highlights
  • back to normal sat and contrast and play the "what looks different' game

In a sense, a lot of grading to match things is just looking for what looks wrong and then fixing it and keeping on doing it until it's good enough.  The other part of grading is looking for what might make the image better (whatever that means for the project) and just trying things and when you find something that improves it then just dial in the strength of it and then look for the next thing.

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5 hours ago, kye said:

A trick in grading you can do to 'see better' is to add a contrast/saturation effect at the very end to both shots.  

I'd suggest:

  • Start with normal settings and get the right colour space transformation
  • Sat=0 and just match the overall contrast and gamma curve
  • Sat=0 with added contrast to fine-tune the gamma adjustments
  • Sat=150-200% with normal contrast to exaggerate the colours and match the WB, saturation of various hues, and any tints to shadows / highlights
  • back to normal sat and contrast and play the "what looks different' game

In a sense, a lot of grading to match things is just looking for what looks wrong and then fixing it and keeping on doing it until it's good enough.  The other part of grading is looking for what might make the image better (whatever that means for the project) and just trying things and when you find something that improves it then just dial in the strength of it and then look for the next thing.

Sounds like a good workflow. My bigger issue is just not really knowing what proper color looks like to judge skintone or really anything in the shot. 

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20 minutes ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Sounds like a good workflow. My bigger issue is just not really knowing what proper color looks like to judge skintone or really anything in the shot. 

I once worked with a really good compositor at a large VFX house who admitted to me once that he was totally colorblind.  His trick was that he just matched everything by reading the code values from his color picker tool and matching the parts of his composite purely from the values he sampled.

I've always remembered that when I feel I can't trust my eyes, or something is not working for me.  You can color grade just by making sure everything is neutral and balanced.  Later, as you become more comfortable with the process and gain more experience you can start creating looks or an affected grade.

Generally to start you want to get your white balance correct.  Find something in your shot that you know should be neutral or white.  A wall, a t-shirt, a piece of paper, or anything else that should be white or gray.  After that, check your blacks and make sure they are neutral, then double check your whites.  Finally, check your skin tones and make sure they are correct.  You can do this by using the vectorscope and just getting them on the skin tone line.  Somewhere in this process you'll want to set your exposure.  I generally just make a rough exposure adjustment at the beginning so I can see everything, then dial it in once my balance is set.

One thing I do a lot when studying how a film I like is graded is to take screen captures from a Netflix stream or other source and pull them into a project to compare the color values on it.  Then you'll have a roadmap for for what you are trying to match.  

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7 hours ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Sounds like a good workflow. My bigger issue is just not really knowing what proper color looks like to judge skintone or really anything in the shot. 

In addition to @Towd's good advice, I'd suggest bookmarking the demo videos from the big cameras as colour reference standards.  eg, the video from ARRI for the LF, the Canon C300, some of the Sony ones, Panasonic EVO, etc.

These videos are demoing the camera and to show off the camera they spend a truckload on a grade to make it look great, but they're not trying to show 'a look', they're trying to show the camera in as neutral a way as possible.  If you swap back and forth from your grade to these demo videos then you'll have a good reliable reference to make sure your eyes aren't going too far from a neutral position.  

You can even use the demo videos as references to find images from nice films (film trailers for example) that you can collect to for a 'look book' of reference styles to reference.

All these references will help you to not run away with yourself, provide inspiration from reliable sources, but also partly make up for a lack of a proper calibrated colour grading setup.

I don't know about the various copyright infringements involved, but (in theory!!!) you could download those reference videos from YT with a video downloader, then pull still images from them in your NLE, and save them into a folder that you've bookmarked in your NLE so you can just pull them up at any point during grading for a quick reference.  You know, in theory...

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7 hours ago, Towd said:

I once worked with a really good compositor at a large VFX house who admitted to me once that he was totally colorblind.  His trick was that he just matched everything by reading the code values from his color picker tool and matching the parts of his composite purely from the values he sampled.

I've always remembered that when I feel I can't trust my eyes, or something is not working for me.  You can color grade just by making sure everything is neutral and balanced.  Later, as you become more comfortable with the process and gain more experience you can start creating looks or an affected grade.

Generally to start you want to get your white balance correct.  Find something in your shot that you know should be neutral or white.  A wall, a t-shirt, a piece of paper, or anything else that should be white or gray.  After that, check your blacks and make sure they are neutral, then double check your whites.  Finally, check your skin tones and make sure they are correct.  You can do this by using the vectorscope and just getting them on the skin tone line.  Somewhere in this process you'll want to set your exposure.  I generally just make a rough exposure adjustment at the beginning so I can see everything, then dial it in once my balance is set.

One thing I do a lot when studying how a film I like is graded is to take screen captures from a Netflix stream or other source and pull them into a project to compare the color values on it.  Then you'll have a roadmap for for what you are trying to match.  

Good technical advice, certainly encouraging. I do usually use a vectorscope when I think the skin may be off. Though when I want to go creative I feel completely lost.

 

 

34 minutes ago, kye said:

In addition to @Towd's good advice, I'd suggest bookmarking the demo videos from the big cameras as colour reference standards.  eg, the video from ARRI for the LF, the Canon C300, some of the Sony ones, Panasonic EVO, etc.

Seems like a good idea. 

Kye, tried to match to your shot. Let me know how bad I did haha
bdQDVA1.jpg

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22 minutes ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Kye, tried to match to your shot. Let me know how bad I did haha

Open up each still in a browser window and swap back-and-forth and tell me what you see.  List as many differences as you can.  This is actually a great exercise in learning how to see :)

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11 minutes ago, kye said:

Open up each still in a browser window and swap back-and-forth and tell me what you see.  List as many differences as you can.  This is actually a great exercise in learning how to see :)

Yours looks a bit brighter and more saturation in blues.

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Hey  thanks to all for the awesome grades you did. Its making mine feel too "Pinky" in comparison.

P4k Shot it back in Dec I think 2 or 3 updates ago...

It was a very loose random "shoot" just messing around.  was mainly trying to test out a $900 Lumix G II 12-35 2.8 that had a scratch on it. I scored for $200 on the ebay... you can only see it well when in certain light and it just looks Kinda blurry.

Id say its acceptable "Character" for a $700 discount.

Here is the full Vid if Interested....

Shot it 1080p and uprez'd to 4k for output. 

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9 hours ago, thebrothersthre3 said:

Yours looks a bit brighter and more saturation in blues.

Cool. So make those changes to yours and then compare them again, then fix that, etc etc..  Post when it's as close as you can get it :)

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58 minutes ago, kye said:

Let's up the ante...  Challenge #3 - colour match the first two images.

You are done when you could cut from one to the other in the same scene.

First attempt is a fail, time to start again I think.  This isn't an easy task.

This is where I got to.

1325402650_ScreenShot2019-03-16at11_50_22am.thumb.png.77a1acfc13cd05f39eb29dc58eae87db.png

480176718_ScreenShot2019-03-16at11_51_20am.thumb.png.0e16ec39b488cada49466fde9d59adbc.png

The scopes tell the story pretty nicely - these are with only a CST applied:

 1053823372_ScreenShot2019-03-16at11_55_53am.thumb.png.3ac9945f72ef4b7afdb955f3120221f4.png

1988883028_ScreenShot2019-03-16at11_56_06am.thumb.png.32c5f24444628ef320b775f5d77ffc49.png

One is direct sun, the other all shade.  One has lots of saturated objects in it, the other has almost none.  There are some heavy and complicated green/magenta shifts going on, and I suspect that the hue of reflected light is also different.

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i was not happy with my early attempts either...

kye, could you give me some honest feedback about this one? (i didn't bother denoising and regraining it, my question is more about gamma linearity, and quality of skintones and general balance)

 

 

test_1.1.1.jpg

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4 hours ago, seku said:

kye, could you give me some honest feedback about this one? (i didn't bother denoising and regraining it, my question is more about gamma linearity, and quality of skintones and general balance)

Sure!

Firstly, I'll preface this by saying that I'm not an expert, and also that grading is subjective, so there's no right or wrong - only right or wrong for the project you're doing.  Comparing my still with your two grades

Your first grade:

graded_1.1.1_1.1.2.png

My grade:

1514115494_P2Pcolourgradingclip1-1.thumb.jpg.9cde22bd8f4397639a4ff8bfbc4bb45e.jpg

Your second grade:

test_1.1.1.jpg

Here's what I'm seeing:

  • The hue of the skin tones seems fine and matches across all three grades
    • I look for skin tones in that middle-ground between yellow and pink and it's there
    • I also look for a variation in hue because skin colour varies across different areas of the face and yours also has that
  • It's the contrast of the skin tones is where they differ
    • In my example the skin has far less contrast than on both of yours, I'm looking at how bright the lighter areas are compared to the darker areas.  This also contributes to yours having slightly more saturation in skin tones too.
    • Your second grade is much better in terms of exposure, with the first one being too bright and losing skin texture.  I think you're meant to put skin tones at a certain gamma level (40 IRE?) and your second one is much better than your first, although both yours second and mine might both still be a bit light.  I am constantly surprised by how dark skin tones are in professional situations.
  • Looking at the wider image of your second grade vs my first grade
    • Yours has slightly more overall contrast than mine with black and white points a bit more pushed apart
    • Probably the main difference is in the contrast of the mid-tones where mine has less contrast, giving mine a more vintage feel
    • The distribution of saturation is different too, mine looks to have more saturation in the mid-tones (look at the red/brown in the wood) but that might be because those items are lighter in mine and from a mathematical perspective they might be similar, however, the most saturation areas of yours seem to me more saturated than the most saturated areas of mine, for example the red light on the far left or the red umbrella directly above his head.  However, the saturation of the other colours appears to be similar, look at the green lights or the coloured tassels hanging above the shrine.  IIRC I might have deliberately played with the reds, and I definitely did a Sat vs Sat to boost saturation of mildly saturated tones without also boosting the more heavily saturated tones.
    • Overall WB is very similar and you don't appear to have tinted the shadows or highlights.

In terms of taste, I prefer mine as it is more flattering and a bit more vintage, but I suspect that if we were physically there yours might be more accurate with the level of contrast.  Mine kind of looks 'nicer', both in skin tones (contrast on skin tones isn't flattering) as well as the overall look - the world that yours is from looks like a harsher and less friendly place to live.

Hope that helps? :)

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Splendid kye, just what i needed to hear, a lot of thanks for the very detailled breakdown!

I like contrast way too much for my own good, and it seems i am scared of images not "popping" enough, so i've got some unlearning to do.

It's kinda scary to go to those low IRE :) but i gave it a go at around 30 IRE skintines... it looks horrible as a thumbnail, but fullscreen it *kinda* works... second screen is at 40 IRE :

 lastone_1.1.1.thumb.jpg.e3fa1ffacbf2b3c434e7214be03ff8cf.jpg

40ire_1.1.1.jpg

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50 minutes ago, seku said:

Splendid kye, just what i needed to hear, a lot of thanks for the very detailled breakdown!

I like contrast way too much for my own good, and it seems i am scared of images not "popping" enough, so i've got some unlearning to do.

It's kinda scary to go to those low IRE :) but i gave it a go at around 30 IRE skintines... it looks horrible as a thumbnail, but fullscreen it *kinda* works... second screen is at 40 IRE :

Actually, I think that number is wrong, those do look a little dark for this scene.

This article has some useful information: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/how-to-use-false-color-nail-skin-tone-exposure/

False-Color-Chart.png

False-Color-Skin-Tones-865x346.jpg

That shows that skin is in the 48-52 IRE level.  This one is a bit more difficult because it's a lot more contrasty:

False-Color-Readouts-in-Window-Light-865

But those levels really change if the image is high key like this one:

clean-skin.jpg

or low key like this one:

Low_key.jpg

and this one has no skin tone - only shadows and highlights:

low-key-monochrome-photography-boy.jpg

I just make things look right.

I wouldn't be too afraid of contrast either - Hollywood isn't afraid to absolutely crank it right up.  I'd suggest pulling together a collection of reference images from skilled colourists :)

 

 

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yeah, it all is based on intent... it's no easy task :)

I am also waiting for a couple of screens to arrive, that i want to use for scopes and false color.

Btw, once you get to 50IRE, it becomes way punchier :

5ish IRE_1.1.1.jpg

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