Monthly Archives: July 2010

Color correction for the color blind?

I’m slightly red-green color blind. Yet at this stage of my career, I have to do all my own color correction. Impossible? Well, maybe if I were REALLY color blind it would be. I can eyeball most colors just fine, but the ones I have a hard time with are flesh tones. That’s why I’m so excited about the latest update to Red Giant’s amazing Colorista cool. Because hidden within the interface is a secret weapon that Colorista II inherits from Magic Bullet Mojo called “show skin overlay.” When enabled, it literally lays a grid over your clip’s flesh tones, telling you when you’ve got it right. Here’s how it works.

New work: a seductive stroll through Pike Place Market with Tiberio Simone

I made this video for Seattle chef Tiberio Simone, who needed a short web video to help find a publisher for his book, La Figa: Visions of Food and Form. He and photographer Matt Freedman have been working on this incredible project for nearly 5 years, and the results are amazing. But what’s most amazing about this video, of course, is Tiberio himself. Who else could walk into Pike Place Market and within a half an hour, literally have tourists eating out of his hand? I like filming Tiberio so much that I’m planning a documentary film that will give me an opportunity to put him in front of my camera a lot.

The technical stuff:

Audio: I taped a Sennheiser EW wireless lav onto Tiberio’s chest before we arrived at the Market, and as you can probably notice, I forgot to turn it on in the first scene, so I had to fall back to the reference audio recorded on my Canon T2i. But I remembered for all the other scenes, which have vastly better audio that was recorded onto my Zoom H4N and synced in post with the latest version of the indispensable Pluraleyes.

Camera: I put my Canon T2i with kit zoom lens on my Merlin Steadicam, and had to carefully pre-focus every scene before I started rolling, since it’s impossible to refocus with that rig when you’re rolling. I love the cheapo Canon kit lens when I use the Merlin, because it’s very lightweight, has a decent zoom range of 18-55mm, has some added built-in image stabilization that’s quiet. And the fact that it doesn’t open wider than f 3.5 is fine, because I never want to shoot wide open with the Steadicam because of the aforementioned focus issue.

For shooting in the Market, I set the ISO of the camera to 800, with the aperture around f 5.6. Because there was so much mixing of daylight with tungsten and fluorescent lights, I set the camera’s white balance to automatic and I was very happy with the results. I’ve found that getting the white balance right is very important for these cameras – the file simply won’t hold up to too much color correction, so you gotta get it close to begin with if you want to see the great results the camera is capable of.

For the last shot in the video, I carefully raised the Merlin up over my head as Tiberio walked away. Then the key part – I applied my favorite Lock and Load X filter to the footage in post, which drained the remaining wobblies away like magic. The results are pretty indistinguishable from a crane shot, don’t you think?

New work: Cultures Connecting promo video

I made this video for a fantastic Seattle-based organization called Cultures Connecting. Their vision is to create a world based on principles of equity and justice for all. What’s not to love about that? Ilsa and Caprice, the two co-founders, were a lot of fun to work with, and I learned a lot during the project.

I shot the interviews with my JVC HM-100, using two tungsten lights: a single overhead softbox with baffles to focus the light, and a background light shaped to resemble a bridge, iconic of the work they do and part of the organization’s logo.

I shot the workshop on my Canon T2i dslr, and I was worried that the footage wouldn’t intercut with the JVC stuff. But I think it cuts fine, in part because the interviews are lit so well and is an altogether different looking situation from the workshop.

One thing I discovered in shooting this project is NOT to use the superflat Canon picture styles that are touted by some. The results, even after a significant amount of tweaking in post, are, well, super flat. Especially the skin tones, which I’m not happy with at all. I’ve since getting much better results following the advice of people like Shane Hurlbut, who advocates a simple recipe.

This is the first video I’ve cut in which I also produced the music myself. I recently finished reading Sound Editing in Final Cut Studio, by Jeff Sobel, which has an entire chapter devoted to teaching you how to compose custom music using the thousands of Apple loops included with the application. It’s actually quite miraculous how simple it is to compose simple music using Soundtrack Pro. The loops are designed to automatically match whatever tempo you’ve set, and it’s easy to line up the beats for seamless composing… even if you aren’t a musician.