Color Correction is Done!

The Work Station
(And yes this photo could actually use some color correction since that mouse and the calendar should be white.)

After some complications and setbacks, I'd like to officially announce that the color correction or color grading, if you will, of All's Well and Fair is done! Although I anticipate that the documentary may go through another round of color work before it will be available for sale or broadcast or whatever may be in its future down the line. But for all intents and purposes in the near future (festivals, screenings & other promotions) the picture and sound are set!

There had also been a lot of back and forth about the 4:3 ratio the 1996 VHS footage was shot in (and the 2006 DV footage - although it was framed for a 16x9 crop) and the 16:9 ratio that is common today. Part of that discussion was an upres (increase the resolution/overall images size) to HD (high definition). Big decisions videomakers have to consider in today's HD 16:9 world if they've shot their projects over the last few years when SD (standard definition) 4:3 was still more common or more accessible for us in the DIY crowd. In my case many tests and several discussions with peers have led to All's Well and Fair staying in SD 4:3. But again: for now. 

 The screen on the right shows the clip after the brightness & colors have been adjusted. The screen on the left shows a split between before (right half) and after (left half).

For those of you who want to know more: Color correction/grading is the process in which you make sure all colors in the image look the way they should or the way you want them to look. You go through every clip of your video and make sure the brightness and darkness are set correctly (there are broadcast rules of how dark or bright you can go - rules which unfortunately are even different in various countries). You make adjustments to assure that your blacks are black, your whites are white and that human skin looks like human skin and not like Marge Simpson's skin. This gets complicated a bit if footage is filmed under colored lights (where your white would actually be more in that colored shade) or in a dark area (where what you think should be white, should really be gray), etc. Add to that your own vision of what you'd like your film to look like (you want a warm look or a cool one or a very saturated one, etc.) and the consideration that a great latitude in color spectrum may have effects on your project looking more like video or more like film. Now imagine mixing 14 year old VHS footage with more modern DV footage... 

Yikes, I know, it can get complicated and sometimes late at night you wake up and think: hm, maybe I should've just left all the colors and brightness levels the way they were shot because that one guy in the gray suit ended up looking a little more pink in the face than he should have. This is often quickly followed by the thought: maybe my next video should be done entirely in black and white...

What's next? DVD menu, DVD cover, DVD duplication, moving to Germany...