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How to achieve Blue Desaturated look

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Craig Bass
How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 15, 2011 at 5:37:01 am

I am going to soon be producing a music video for some friends of mine, and need some insight on how to create the look of this video:





I have attempted to secure this look entirely in post, but have ended up with abysmal results. Gels are something I have never used in the past, but I am wondering if these are the key to this look. Should I gel the lights blue? If I do, how do I control the skin tones? To recreate this look, must I use blue gels and then recapture the skin tones in my color correction program?

Currently, we use a kit of daylight balanced lights: some fluorescent, some LED.

Any insight would be hugely appreciated!


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Scott Sheriff
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 15, 2011 at 7:55:28 pm

[Craig Bass] "I have attempted to secure this look entirely in post, but have ended up with abysmal results. Gels are something I have never used in the past, but I am wondering if these are the key to this look. Should I gel the lights blue? If I do, how do I control the skin tones? To recreate this look, must I use blue gels and then recapture the skin tones in my color correction program?

Currently, we use a kit of daylight balanced lights: some fluorescent, some LED."


This is just the 'Amelie' or 'Three Kings' look.
Two ways to do this.

1. Create a special scene file for the camera. This will require running some tests. The downside is the 'look' is baked into the footage.

2. Do it in post, which is how it is done 99% of the time. This could be done in Color, or in FCP ( and others) using the limit function in the 3WCC, and stacked filters, some masking and maybe some tint. Even the bits where he opens his mouth and it is blow out, and the blown out edges. This is not the kind of thing you just whip out in five minutes. It takes planning, time, and a familiarity with color correction.
Now that I say that, there may be some plugins, or other canned FX that will get you close to the basic look. The problem there is canned FX never look fresh as something built from scratch.

You will also get much better results if the shoot is properly planned and lit. Set pieces, costumes and lighting all have an effect on the level of success. This would go for any of these type of looks, including doing the 'Pleasantville' mono w/one color look. Shoot some tests and make sure everything works well together.
I think part of your problem is too much variation in the color temp of your lights. Stick with a consistent color temp. Even if your flos and LEDs say they are daylight, they all have spikes in the green that are different. I would just use tungsten lighting.
Blue gel on the lights will make doing this more difficult, not easier. Having defined differences between colors you want to manipulate make it easier, as will a consistent color temp on the sources.
If your not up to speed on post color work, it might be worth your money to hire someone who is, and include them in the planning process.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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Mark Suszko
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 15, 2011 at 9:29:17 pm

Check out the Magic Bullet Looks "bleach bypass" filter effects. You can test a frame for free via a downloaded sampler.


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Scott Sheriff
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 15, 2011 at 11:09:52 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Check out the Magic Bullet Looks "bleach bypass" filter effects. You can test a frame for free via a downloaded sampler."

The video is definatley based on a beach bypass look, but had some other things going on. There was some color isolation-replacement, etc.
Doing a basic bleach bypass in FCP is pretty easy. Can't believe anybody actually charges money for a plugin to do that. There is also a bleach bypass preset in the Color FX room in Color.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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Todd Terry
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 16, 2011 at 12:00:31 am

[Scott Sheriff] "Can't believe anybody actually charges money for a plugin to do that."

Simulating skip bleach is just one of the things Magic Bullet easily does... one of several hundred things it does, and does really really well.

Specifically, Magic Bullet Looks is one of the best plug-ins we have ever used and it is installed in all our suites except one. It's not super cheap, but it is easily worth twice it's price. I actually wouldn't hesitate to buy it again at three times.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Scott Sheriff
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 16, 2011 at 3:01:51 am

[Todd Terry] "Simulating skip bleach is just one of the things Magic Bullet easily does... one of several hundred things it does, and does really really well.

Specifically, Magic Bullet Looks is one of the best plug-ins we have ever used and it is installed in all our suites except one. It's not super cheap, but it is easily worth twice it's price. I actually wouldn't hesitate to buy it again at three times."


That is quite an endorsement. I'm sure Red Giant products are well made. But a C note is a lot of coin for something that you can do for free, is not that difficult, and seems kinda overkill for this one time use.
I guess my other complaint about using trendy plugins is that so are ten thousand other editors.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com

I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...


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Bill Davis
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 16, 2011 at 7:16:09 pm

Ces't la vie.

My wife came back from the local baking supplies super-store to report that lots of the ingredients that once upon a time were hand crafted - stuff like creme filling, glazes, frostings, et al are all now being sold in 20 gallon tubs and a LOT of even the major local bakers have gone from doing everything custom to using these "shortcuts" because in all business - time is money.

Like Scott, I personally feel that knowing the underlying recipe and understanding the step by step process of doing any effect puts you ahead of the pack when things to wrong and you need to analyze how to fix or tweek stuff - bit it's also inevitable that CAKE MIXS will always be profitable to sell and lots of people will regard the resulting cakes as just fine.

Heck they are "just fine."

But a Duncan Hines chocolate cake in Phoenix, and one in Detroit is the same experience. Sitting down for a cake based on a quality bakers experience and experimentation is another level - one that I hope never dies out.

FWIW.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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Todd Terry
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 16, 2011 at 7:55:00 pm

All true...

BUT...

I'm not being a salesman for Red Giant, but I'll point out that when you use Magic Bullet for, say, a bleach-bypass look, it's not just a switch that you click on or off and that's it.

Rather, Magic Bullet has about 100 built in "looks" that any good editor would simply use as a starting point to craft the exact effect that he or she wants. Sure, there is a "bleach bypass" pre-set, but within that there are countless adjustable parameters that let you tweak the virtual lighting on a subject, whatever filtration you might want to put in the "virtual matte box," camera-based effects such as filmstock selection, and purely post-production effects. The combinations are probably nearly infinite. And that's all just within the Magic Bullet "Looks" plugin. The MB suite is actually 18 different plugins that do a wild assortment of things, including a pretty good color corrector called "Colorista" (although I don't use it).

We don't use FCP, rather we edit with Premiere CS3 and CS4 on Matrox AXIO machines. The four built-in realtime Matrox color correctors are just as powerful and featured as those from Apple, and I probably could do everything with just them. But, it would sure take me a lot longer to get the results I wanted, and time is money.

Rather than considering a plug-in akin to buying a cake mix, in that analogy I more think of it as buying flour. I can use that flour to make any kind of cake that I wanted... I just let someone else do some of the "getting started" work and grow and grind the wheat for me.

Yeah, you can throw a plugin's default pre-set on and call it done... but a really good editor will know that he's really just getting started at that point.

But yes, there is a valid point about overuse. One of MB's easy cool effects is this flare effect that is not quite a traditional lens flare, nor is it quite a frame fog. It's hard to describe but very cool. We used it a couple of times, and then suddenly it seemed to be everywhere (most notably in 2009's Star Trek where they over-used it to death in almost every single scene). That one we don't really use anymore. Gotta keep it fresh.

Just my two cents....

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Bill Davis
Re: How to achieve Blue Desaturated look
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:20:35 am

Can't remember which celebrity chef had a show where he hooked up with someone in a Grocery Store - then went to their house - and created a gourmet meal USING WHATEVER THEY HAD IN THEIR PANTRY.

The point was that if you're REALLY good at what you do, you think about ingredients and combinations differently than someone who's stuck at the level of simply following the directions on the back of the brownie box.

I agree that there are some people who use tools like Magic Bullet quite appropriately - and LOTS of others who simply want to load it up, click the preset - and show off how COOL their video work suddenly looks.

That's not a slam. It's simple reality. And there's room for all in this business. I'll just return to my hoary old analogy that editing system is a lot like playing the piano. You can play a LOT of songs just learning half a dozen chords and how to pick out a melody with your right hand. But that says little about musicianship and NOTHING about artistry.

Same with software, I'm afraid.

Good music is virtually NEVER about the piano - it's ALL about the piano player.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Conner


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