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Just want to share a technique I like to use if I want to make more saturated colors darker without a qualifier.
I recorded a short video showing it.

This is not a 'look' tutorial. Just a technique. I'm sure many of you already use this in some way. But maybe someone will find it useful.
I exaggerated the effect to make it more visible. Of course blending with the original is your friend. 

 

Edited by Anton Meleshkevich
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I've just recorded one more video :) and changed a title of the thread.
This time about white balancing with a gray card (or whatever neutral) with a clear visual control of neutral colors. Hope, someone will find it useful.

 

Edited by Anton Meleshkevich

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I really love your techniques, but I wished you would quickly explain the reasoning behind them for less experienced colorists. For example why did you switch to HSL and disable channel 1 and 3, and then converted to HSV afterwards?  Or why selecting just low saturation helps with correcting white balance? I think if you would have added just a little bit of explanation to your videos, it could potentially help a lot of people. 

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(edited)

@Daniel Tuerner   In HSL and HSV saturation works differently. In HSL desaturating makes colors darker. In HSV - brighter. So at first I make colors darker by desaturating in HSL. And then I also make them darker by increasing saturation in HSV.

In another video I select lowest saturation colors, because they are basically almost neutral colors (with little to no saturation).
Then I tint them with a strong and noticeable green fill by curves. This allows me to see all neutral gray colors in green. Actually not just true neutral gray colors, but also pixels with a little bit of saturation. They are not neutral of course, but with any footage shot on real camera this is ok and even preferable because of noise and lots of other imperfections of the real world. If I made a node tree which only indicates real true neutral gray, that would be unusable. For example even on expensive color checkers dark gray and light gray patches have slightly different tint. You can't make them all look 100% neutral by using only WB control in RAW or RGB Gain operation in linear gamma. And in my example (macbeth colorchecker) neutral patches are not even designed to be actually neutral. Only 2 or 3 of them are supposed to be actually neutral. I don't remember which ones exactly, but definitely not the brightest one.

Also I forgot to set de-noising to highest quality in the video. This is essential. Otherwise denoiser can desaturate some colors and that makes the whole node tree useless. I added this as a pinned comment.

Edited by Anton Meleshkevich

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Lovely technique!

Would be great to see more such awesome tips.

Thanks for sharing Anton. Really appreciate it.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get a creamy skin look? 

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3 hours ago, Rak Avatar said:

Do you have any suggestions on how to get a creamy skin look? 

Can you attach the screenshot? I'm not sure I understand what you mean.  I searched for "creamy skin look" and found pics with top front lit faces. Probably what you mean is just a soft box placed above the camera for flat lit commercial beauty shot.

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My choice of adjectives was quite ambiguous. Rather let me share some pics for reference. In broad terms, its the quality of skin diffusion, glow and softness I am looking.  

small_DZL0XDRS.jpg

small_P7YJR01T.jpg

small_TEIE0O15.jpg

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(edited)
22 minutes ago, Rak Avatar said:

My choice of adjectives was quite ambiguous. Rather let me share some pics for reference. In broad terms, its the quality of skin diffusion, glow and softness I am looking.

Actually I don't see any special 'secret' color grading technique that makes it to look like this.
What you see here is a good lighting and lens. Probably also a filter. Something like a promist. I'm not a DP so I  can be wrong here. Of course it can also be a glow effect at post production.
Talking about actually colors. Again, looks like a usual print film LUT or manual corrections that replicate all these typical things of a print film  like shifting blue to cyan, yellow to orange, skintone to red (brought back before this by overall color balance tinted to yellow/green), RGB curves, soft clipped highlights and so on. Also midtones have more contrast than shadows and highlights.
Especially  the first screenshot. Really looks like kodak 2383.

I know, it looks like there is some special technique for this look. But what you see is already baked on source. It's shot on camera by a good DP. Good source almost impossible to ruin at color grading. It looks good whatever you do.

Edited by Anton Meleshkevich

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Agreed. Good lighting, good glass and on-set data is key. 

On an different note, let's say I have a heavy grade.. overall greenish tints.. if i try to pull a face mask and restore it to natural skin color by countering the heavy grade.. it somehow looks unbalanced to my eyes. Perceptually something seems off. Is there a rule-of-thumb for such cases you recommend?

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(edited)
16 minutes ago, Rak Avatar said:

to pull a face mask and restore it to natural skin color by countering the heavy grade..

I never do this. And can't recommend it as a part of a look corrections. Primary color balance and exposure/contrast is the main tool for everything. You should get a good looking image just with this looking through a look LUT or a manually created look. Sometimes you can get an unwanted reddish or yellowish skintone. And usually this is the only reason I do something with the isolated skin. But often I don't even isolate it. Just make some hue adjustments with hue vs hue curve at per clip corrections level.
Usually it's ok if your skintone aren't at the skintone line on vectorscope. It always depends on overall color of the shot. Maybe the lighting is yellow and director decide to keep it. So camera WB is set in a way to preserve this yellow tint. In  this case it would be wrong to select the skin tone and make it look neutral.

Edited by Anton Meleshkevich

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19 minutes ago, Rak Avatar said:

I have a heavy grade.. overall greenish tints

If you attach an example of your grade, probably I could say something more specific than basic "good source and good color balance is a key"

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3 minutes ago, Anton Meleshkevich said:

I never do this. And can't recommend it as a part of a look corrections. Primary color balance and exposure/contrast is the main tool for everything. You should get a good looking image just with this looking through a look LUT or a manually created look. Sometimes you can get an unwanted reddish or yellowish skintone. And usually this is the only reason I do something with the isolated skin. But often I don't even isolate it. Just make some hue adjustments with hue vs hue curve at per clip corrections level.
Usually it's ok if your skintone aren't at the skintone line on vectorscope. It always depends on overall color of the shot. Maybe the lighting is yellow and director decide to keep it. So camera WB is set in a way to preserve this yellow tint. In  this case it would be wrong to select the skin tone and make it look neutral.

Gotcha. Makes sense for most cases.  

Reg. the look LUT/manual created look - what if the intention is to push colors for style purposes - say like The Matrix - what's your recommendations in that case?

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For strong greenish look I'd probably use (and I did) fuji 3513 LUT and wheels to make green tint even stronger. Also I often use RGB Mixer for creating looks. Usually when director wants strong teal orange.
But I always try to add anything for creating any look before and through a print film LUT or something similar to what print film does. I'm writing an article about how I made LUTs for a netflix show. Lots of screenshots with all the settings. But I write in English really slow and bad. Some day, when I finally finish it, I put a link here. Actually I use 3x3 matrix in DCTL format. But it's the same thing as a RGB mixer.
 

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7 hours ago, Anton Meleshkevich said:

For strong greenish look I'd probably use (and I did) fuji 3513 LUT and wheels to make green tint even stronger. Also I often use RGB Mixer for creating looks. Usually when director wants strong teal orange.
But I always try to add anything for creating any look before and through a print film LUT or something similar to what print film does. I'm writing an article about how I made LUTs for a netflix show. Lots of screenshots with all the settings. But I write in English really slow and bad. Some day, when I finally finish it, I put a link here. Actually I use 3x3 matrix in DCTL format. But it's the same thing as a RGB mixer.
 

That would be immensely helpful Anton! Do share the article.. keen to read it. 

 

Reg. the strong greenish looks - what you described applies to the whole image, as a primary grade right? that means the skin too goes greenish.. ? I am trying to understand how to tackle that situation? what tones should the skin be? 

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(edited)

A look comes as a global correction for the whole program or a scene at timeline or a group level accordingly, if you're in Resolve. Skin adjustments (hue-vs-hue for example) go at per clip level after primary per-clip basic adjustments (color balance, exposure, contrast).

If you need a greenish look, usually the skin tone should be greenish. But if you decide to keep the skin tone natural as a creative decision, you should do it at a look logical level. In Resolve it would be somewhere in group or timeline nodes. But keep in mind that more crappy shot footage you got, less stylized look you can go with, if you don't want to let viewers notice color grading instead of the actual movie. But director is the boss. And usually he knows better how final movie should look to tell his story even if you think it looks terrible and you could make it look exactly like those beautiful stills on Company3 instagram.


Main approach is to do as much as possible at a global corrections level. In perfect scenario you create one master look based on gray card white balanced test footage shot on chosen camera and lens by DP before the actual shooting. Then you bake it in a LUT.  At the production stage DP creatively adjusts camera WB and exposure for each scene looking through the look LUT on field monitor. Then everything is 100% perfect. No need to do any color grading. Of course in reality it is impossible. But from that point of view it's easier to understand, what are the main tools you should use at each logical level of corrections. So at per-clip corrections level you should do as much as possible using color balance and exposure/contrast looking through the global look. And after that, if there is still enough time, you can go deep into problem solving with qualifying, rotoscoping and all the other time-consuming things.

Edited by Anton Meleshkevich

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53 minutes ago, Anton Meleshkevich said:

But keep in mind that more crappy shot footage you got, less stylized look you can go with, if you don't want to let viewers notice color grading instead of the actual movie.

That's a good point!

 

And all your other points make sense.  Quite a pragmatic approach..

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