Anybody who has ever worked with colour video or stills has almost certainly asked themselves a very common question whilst trying to edit the image: "Why do the colours look different on my monitor?" Normally this is in comparison to what you saw through the viewfinder, or your camera's screen whilst filming, but in some cases, colours can appear different even on two monitors from the same brand. This is due to the immense range of difference between individual screens, which can be affected by factors as subtle as age, which fades the picture.
The inability to see the colours for what they are can make post production, and grading particularly, a real challenge. If ignored, you may find that when your film is finally projected on the big screen, it looks completely different to how you'd imagined. Fortunately, this doesn't have to be an issue that derails your project, and you can fix it with calibration. Read on to learn more.
Colour calibration with X-Rite
Calibration is the process whereby a monitor is optimised for contrast, brightness and colour temperature, allowing you to see what's referred to as a 'true' representation of the colours. Doing this before starting to work on footage is absolutely key. One of the best ways to achieve this is with the wide range of colour management tools from X-Rite.
X-Rite makes a number of different products, but their most popular and well-known are undoubtedly the ColorChecker charts. These are a staple within the industry, and make it quick and easy to precisely calibrate before grading. There are several types of chart, but they all work in basically the same way:
Of course, these charts can also be invaluable tools when shooting to ensure that your exposure and white balance are correct and capturing the right spectrum.
Getting on to grading
Part of the fun of filmmaking is exploring unique colour palettes, and having the right starting point is very important when it comes to achieving these. Grading is an exciting process, but can take a long time, and it's also difficult to get very precise and natural adjustments with just your mouse. This is where external control panels come in, and they are an absolute must for anybody working with footage in post.
External products like the Tangent Ripple not only allows for better control, but also make long periods of work far more comfortable, reducing the risk of developing RSI. The Ripple in particular is a very intuitive device, with three trackerballs that can be mapped to different parameters as required. It's also relatively inexpensive compared to some of the larger control devices, making it a great way for those without much experience to get used to the feel of editing with professional-grade equipment.
Ultimately, the quality of your image is amongst the most crucial aspects of any audio-visual project. The right tools in post can play a huge part in this, by allowing you to make absolutely sure that what you are editing will be exactly what your audience sees. For more information of colour charts and other post-production technology, get in touch with DVT today.
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