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Fixing Bad Cinematography


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#1 Jim Keller

Jim Keller
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  • Fresno, CA

Posted 12 June 2007 - 01:36 PM

OK, I don't normally like to toot my own horn (especially since the mistake I'm fixing was my own), but I'm so amazed with what Final Cut Pro (5.1.4) could do, I just had to share.

I made two critical mistakes when shooting the original footage. First I trusted the automatic aperture on a Sony DSR-PD100A, which I'm guessing was baffled by the unlit white wall behind the talent, but displayed just fine on the built-in LCD screen while taping. Second, when the talent showed up wearing bright red lipstick, I told her to bring the rest of her makeup up to the same level instead of take the lipstick off.

Well, when I digitized the footage, this is what I saw:

Posted Image

My first thought, of course, was to schedule a re-shoot. But I decided to see what Final Cut Pro's built-in filters could do. After some experimentation, this is the sequence I came up with:

First, I applied the "Desaturate" filter at a -50 to increase the saturation. Since the background had effectively no color (except the very slight beige tint) and the camera was correctly white balanced, this brought out the details of the talent without doing much to the background.

Posted Image

Second, using the "Levels" filter, I adjusted the gamma to make the talent's features my middle value.

Posted Image

Third, I used the "HSV Adjust" filter to reduce the overall saturation and bring the colors back to something more naturalistic.

Posted Image

And, finally, I did a simple "Brightness and Contrast" adjust.

Posted Image

Final Cut Pro was able to render all but the last step in realtime on my old Dual G5. Now I'm really looking forward to playing with verion 6!
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