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Color Correction in Final Cut Express


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#1 John Tanner

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 01:40 PM

Hello,

I am an aspiring digital video film-maker, and I work primarily with the Canon EOS 550D because I have budget restraints still being a high school student. However, that is beside the point, I am curious as to why the color correction (the actual effect, including "curves" and "contrast/brightness" and the built in color corrector) is bringing so much noise into my shots that was not there previously. I have a few guesses but I want an outside opinion...

I would imagine it's either...

1.) The fact that I am working in digital format and the pixels are clumping together because of the color correction.
2.) I am not compressing something right.
3.) Final Cut Express is just not adequate for professional color correction (my best guess.)
or...
4.) I am not applying the color correction correctly at all.

And it is kind of driving me crazy, I keep my files in the native format (H.264) and I did this so it wouldn't have to compress the file at all; however this could be a huge problem (I have no idea).

Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks.

-John Tanner

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#2 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 03:17 PM

It is both the camera and the highly compressed h264 file which are giving you trouble, when you try to color correct h264 the footage falls apart and reveals the noise that is there and the lack of info in the file. You can do more with a better color corrector (you could download the free version of DaVinci Resolve) but not as much as if you were shooting with a less compressed format and a camera with less noise.


-Rob-
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#3 John Tanner

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 07:38 AM

Yeah, I thought that might be it as well... Even so, if I shoot RAW and convert could I theoretically have a lot more to work with?

Thanks for your timely reply.

-John Tanner
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 09:14 AM

You can't shoot Raw video on a DSLR, even high end pro cameras rearely shoot raw-- and/or shows don't normally have the ability to deal with raw in post.. it's a bear. However, yes, if you shot a better codec on a better camera then you'd have more to work with, but in your conversions you'd be essentially baking in information thereby limiting yourself again.
On the high end what will typically happen is such. The film is shot and then an "offline" version is made of the footage, which is lower in quality and used just to edit. Once it's edited there is a conform, in which you bring "online," all the high resolution footage you shot-- but just those shots used in the actual edit. This is what is then color corrected and output as a finished film. This is simplified, of course, but it's the just of it.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 10:43 AM

You could try 5DtoRGB, which will do a rather more careful unpacking of your DSLR files. Although it's named "5D", it will work with your 550D footage (which is in the same format). You should read around the subject until you fully understand the purpose of it and how colour subsampling works, but it really does help.

It probably won't help that much, though. You can help yourself by avoiding very high ISO shooting, which creates extra noise, and by exposing carefully, to use the maximum range of information that's available to you on a heavily-compressed camera. This is a balancing act, since you'll need to avoid overexposing and producing ugly clipped highlights, as well as underexposing, which buries your image in noise.

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#6 Mei Lewis

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:43 PM

Phil, is 5D2RGB really worth doing now Premiere Pro etc. don't need DSLR footage transcoded before you can edit? Is there much of a quality boost?
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 02:51 PM

Certainly. It uses considerably better scaling mathematics. Look at the demos at the top right of the website. Premiere CS5 just uses the Mainconcept h.264 decoder.

Disclaimer: I am peripherally involved in the development of 5DtoRGB.

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#8 Evan Kimball

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:58 PM

I think it is always better to go to a more robust codec for editing. It takes up more drive space, but something like cineform or prores will hold up better...(no miracles) and be easier on the computer processor.
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