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Quick Tip Color Reference Charts Pt.1 Cined.jpg

Most of the time, we need to use different models and brands of cameras and a range of different lenses for a given production.
From a color grading perspective, it is more difficult to match footage from different cameras and to archive a coherent output. Color reference cards can help, but are also useful when shooting with a camera.

Color reference charts in action. Image: CineD

What are color reference charts?

Basically, they are just cardboard cards with a number of different colored “chips” or “patches”. These color fields are designed and arranged in a standardized manner and the colors themselves are produced with high precision. They come in a variety of sizes, from just slightly larger than a smartphone to XL versions for wide-angle shots. The idea is to put the diagram in your picture and film for a few seconds with all the cameras involved every time you change the setup or location. Various diagram sizes are available for close-ups and close-ups.
Back in the studio, the editor or colorist can then compare the colors of the chart as captured by the camera with the appearance and adjust the image accordingly, compensating for any contrast and color deviations caused by different cameras or lenses in the camera become process.
A color reference card is one of the items that will always be in my camera bag, even if I'm only shooting with one camera. In difficult lighting situations, it can provide the colorist with important information for evaluating the recording.

This is a two part tutorial. If you are working in Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve, be sure to check out Part Two, which will be released shortly.


The article and video are my honest opinion and whether I or CineD are in any way affiliated with X-Rite. I bought these charts with my own money. (The bigger "legacy" at Panavision London in 1998 when I was in film school).

Do you use color reference charts or do you manually adjust your cameras? Are you interested in and do you have any questions or ideas? Please leave them in the comments.


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