I am working with a QT movie with badly washed out blacks. In some segments, my 'black' level is 35 IRE.
The material is a black + white multicam line cut of an event from the mid 70's. Originally recorded on EIAJ Helical Scan video tape, the material was transferred to Betacam SP in the early 90's, and recently captured through a Blackmagic DeckLink SDI.
The material might be re-transferred or recaptured, but for now let us assume that we're working with what we've got.
In FCP7, I've applied significant Gamma Correction (increased gamma from 1 to 2). Then I brightened the highlights using Color Corrector 3-way to compensate for the brightness I lost with the gamma increase.
I'm minding the waveform monitor closely to be sure I'm not crushing the blacks. All is within range.
Is it foolish to use Gamma Correction first, then apply 3-way? Should 3-way be applied first? Is there a better tool I'm not using?
The corrections I've made are a significant improvement, but I need to be sure that I'm not losing any visual information that will come back to bite me. The goal here is NOT to make it pop. I only want to preserve the material as faithfully as possible.
Curves in Color will do a much better job of pulling down the blacks. The Primary grade with curves, adjustment of gamma and black level will give the best result.
In FCP 3 way CC has gamma plus black levels so you could do all the adjustment in the one plugin. There are other plugins that give curves like Colorista which will do a much better job, but Color is powerful and has the best tools for this job.