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digitizing old tapes, correcting for out-of-range blacks and whites

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Lee Overstreet
digitizing old tapes, correcting for out-of-range blacks and whites
on May 2, 2018 at 8:29:04 pm

I'm doing a good ol' fashioned home video preservation project, with an eye toward a podcast that would mix old NTSC with 1080p. I'm using a Matrox MXO2 to capture to Matrox's .avi format with 4:2:2 color, MPEG-2 intra-frame, 8-bit, at 25Mbps. After A LOT of captures, I was frustrated by how dark or blown out some videos seemed, and have since slowly learned that my videos have brightness ranging from 0-255, and that 16-235 is the "broadcast safe" range. If I use Premiere's Fast Color Corrector to simply remap 0-255 input to 16-235 output, suddenly my videos look much better, depending on the original quality of course. (Grandma's living room doesn't suddenly become well lit, but you get the idea.) My Hi8 footage in particular was looking too contrasty, with overly saturated colors, but after the aforementioned remapping of levels, the color looks fantastic, and the contrast looks great. Hi8 that I shot as anamorphic 16:9 where I actually paid some attention to lighting and exposure (rare for me in the late 90's!) looks particularly nice. But I have some questions.

1) Sometimes this simplistic level remapping brings up the blacks just a bit too much, to my eye. I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the normally overscanned areas around the sides and top of the image. Are those areas supposed to be "blacker than black," and therefore my simple method is overdoing it?

2) What is the RIGHT way to do what I'm doing here?

3) I understand the Fast Color Corrector is considered old, but I don't see a way in something like Lumetri color to use curves, or color wheels, and get that 16-235 precision. Seems like you just have to eyeball it. I see no way to put in precise values. Am I wrong?

I'm fascinated and befuddled by this issue. My OCD is screaming, so any help is greatly appreciated. ☺

USING: Matrox MXO2, Windows 7, Premiere 2015.2 (to maintain easy compatibility with Matrox's drivers, I'll update when my capturing is done.)

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