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Fixing over-exposure and colour balance on beach wedding footage?

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Victor Hooi
Fixing over-exposure and colour balance on beach wedding footage?
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:30:51 am

So I recently (as in, three days ago...lol) got married, and I had a friend video-tape the ceremony and reception for me.

The camera was a Sony PMW-EX3, and I've imported the footage into Final Cut Pro X.

The wedding was outdoors on a beach, and the footage appears quite burnt out. Also, the colours don't quite look right to me.

I'm used to shooting RAW for digital photos, and being able to adjust exposure and colour balance easily - however, I have no idea how to do the equivalent for video, so I'm sort of fumbling along.

The footage currently looks like this:



I had a look at this tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d66LoobZVQ), and I tried dragging the exposure sliders around a bit, and I got this:



The exposure is still not great, and the colour balance is off though? Anyhow, I did choose to analyse colour balance when I imported the video, so I thought I'd click on "Balance: Analyzed" in the inspector. Then I end up with this:



The above seems quite over-saturated. I thought there might be some equivalent of clicking on a neutral gray for setting white balance, but I can't find it.

What steps would you guys recommend to fix this footage? I'm hoping something can be done...


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Fixing over-exposure and colour balance on beach wedding footage?
on Oct 8, 2013 at 7:27:23 pm

Hi,

The Auto features aren't going to work well in situations like this. You will need to approach this manually, and even then you're not going to end up with something pristine and uncompromised.

If you're happy with where you're 3rd image is, bar the saturation, then you can decrease the saturation by going into the Color board and switching to the Saturation Tab and reducing the overall saturation.

If you'd like my thoughts on how I'd approach this shot from the 1st ungraded image you've posted then here they are:
- in Color Corrector 1 go to the Exposure Tab and pull the highlights down. Stop before they turn grey and dirty. Bring down the shadows until they are nice and dark, you can use people's hair as an indicator. Or alternatively, turn on the Video Scopes and position your shadows right at the 0 mark. Then bring down the mid tones, until tonally the skintones look about right. The colors will be super saturated, but you can adjust the saturation accordingly.
- Once you have a decent base image, then add a Color Corrector and in this one use a window/shape mask to add a gradient to the sky.
- add another color corrector and a few additional shape masks to the pathway. Use varying levels of softness and exposure adjustments to make this a little less in your face hot white.
- add another color corrector and another shape mask to relight the part of the image that you want the focus on.
- once you're done with this, add another color corrector and use it to make global adjustments to your corrected image.

Unfortunately, no matter how much time you spend on this, the shot is never going to be as nice as you want it to be.

Best,
Sandeep.


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Victor Hooi
Re: Fixing over-exposure and colour balance on beach wedding footage?
on Oct 9, 2013 at 11:47:23 am

Hi Sandeep,

Thanks for the advice - I'm going to give that a shot.

Just a couple of quick questions to clarify your instructions please?


  • You mentioned pulling the highlights down to before they turn grey/dirty - what do you mean by grey/dirty?

  • You mentioned bringing down the shadows to position shadows at zero. I've got the video scope open, and I'm showing the waveform for Luma - how do I identify the shadows on this graph?

  • You mention adding a window/shape mask to add a gradient to the sky. I'm assuming it's this sort of thing - http://support.apple.com/kb/PH12679?viewlocale=en_US ? I just tried following those steps - the sky's a bit irregular, so I may have some trouble getting it to fit. Also, the video moves around - how do you get the mask to continue fitting to the sky? And what sort of gradient am I adding to the sky?

  • Do you have any advice on getting the white balance and colour right? In Lightroom, you have a white balance tool that you can click on a neutral gray area. Is there any equivalent in FCP X? Or what's the procedure you follow to adjust colour?



Thanks,
Victor


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Sandeep Sajeev
Re: Fixing over-exposure and colour balance on beach wedding footage?
on Oct 9, 2013 at 3:44:55 pm

Hi Victor,

- When you have a shot with such an extreme lack of detail in the highlights, there is very little manipulation that can be done before the image starts to visibly deteriorate. Usually on shots like this, the first sign is that you get small patches of grey in areas that are supposed to be white. That's what I meant. Basically you'll see the same behaviour on over-exposed stills inside Lightroom/Photoshop when you push a Curves or Levels or Exposure adjustment too far.

- The Luma scale goes from -25 to 125. Generally we stick to values between 0 and 100 as a reliable guide. Again this is similar to how blacks and whites are depicted in Lightroom/Photoshop. The Blackest parts of your image should be around the 0 mark and not below, and the whitest should be around the 100 and not over. This is obviously not set in stone, you may find that your image looks nicest when the shadows/blacks are a little elevated and not at or around 0.

- Yes, the method outlined in your link is what I meant. If your shot is not static, you will have to add keyframes and move it accordingly. This can be tricky if the motion is not smooth. Adding a lot of softness to your shape may help in such a case. Anyway, this is something that requires a more in-depth demonstration to grasp at first, so I suggest you check out the videos at:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9topu170WUM&list=PL6C89A9A9B9CEE4F7

  • Denver does a good job of explaining things in a systematic way.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik74ms7Q1NE&list=PL607BE2B2BFE9BE1A

  • This Macbreak Studio video deals with isolating areas of your shot and correcting them.


- As for what I meant by gradient, I was referring to the natural fall-off you get when you make a correction inside a shape with a large softness value.

- You have to click Analyze color and FCPX does it's own thing. As far as I know, there is no equivalent to the functionality you reference from within Lightroom.

Hope that helps a bit,

Best,
Sandeep.


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