In the first part of this two-part quick tip, we looked at using a color reference table with the tools available in most NLEs. (Click here for our first part)
Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve has a built-in feature called Color Match that allows you to use color reference charts almost automatically.
Color reference chart tips
Regardless of how you use your color reference card – semi-automatically with Resolve or manually in another application – if they are not properly captured on set, they are useless. I've put together some tips:
- The diagram must be evenly lit by your main light source. (B.only ut If it's that light, your camera's white balance is set to! For example, if your key light is a blue “moon” outer, pasting and balancing the diagram will result in the blue moonlight being “corrected” to white – and thus ruining what the cameraman intended! If you don't want your button light to look white, you'll need to illuminate the diagram separately with a white light (relative to the camera's white balance).
- Make sure the color effect light (like the amber kicker you might use on hair etc) doesn't hit the card.
- If you are recording a green or blue screen, make sure there is no color loss on the card.
- Make sure the chart is free of shadows, reflections, and glare.
- Try to make the diagram as large as possible in the frame (different diagram sizes are available so you may need more than one size).
- Charts have a neutral gray spot that should be correctly exposed relative to your camera's gamma for the best results. Usually it is 40 IRE mid-tone gray (see the documentation on the color card).
- If you want to synchronize more than one camera: All cameras that you want to synchronize should film the diagram under exactly the same conditions. So don't move or angle the diagram from one camera to the next, move the cameras!
- It's a good idea to have a person hold the chart so that in addition to the skin tone boxes on the chart, you can have real skin tones in the same frame and instantly see if the match looks correct in the post.
Let's sum that up
Color cards are very helpful tools for archiving a uniform appearance when used correctly. However, they should be used in some way conduct the colorist and not to be taken as the gospel. You are here to help the colourist and not do their job for them.
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