Save the Lady! Salem B-17 Restoration Project
Sometimes you just gotta have fun, right?
On Saturday 13 June, 2017, the B-17 Alliance hosted a War-Bird fly-in event in Salem, Oregon. This group has taken the famed B-17 bomber that “flew” over the Bomber Station on Hwy 99 in Milwaukie, Oregon for many years to a hangar at the Salem Airport. There, it’s been completely disassembled and piece by piece, they are working at not just rebuilding the plane to look at … but to fly! They even have the nose-art in a beautiful poster that they will use, as this old warbird becomes the Lacey Lady. Their website is: Save the B-17 Lacey Lady - Home
It takes a ton of cash to restore an aging plane with many parts completely missing to flying duty, so this event was a fund-raiser for this fascinating cause. I took the missus and our youngest … a 19-year old who has looked down at Dad for several years now … and we went to see the Lacey Lady and especially, the two warbirds that flew in for the event: a P-51 Mustang … and … to us the Star of the Show! … a P-38 Lightning, the twin-boom, twin-engined fighter that was the scourge of the Pacific in the last couple years of World War 11.
As this was just a fun day, the only camera gear I had with me was my Samsung S7 phone … with 3840×2160 (“4K”) video capability and stills. Setting up my pro camera, monitor, sound gear, and all that just would have made it work. The stills from the Samsung though are fine as memories, and the video can be made into rather passable memories also. Like this short clip, which shows the neutralized color blending into my WWII "Look: as the planes fly over the encampment:
But it does take a bit of doing to get from off-the-phone to the above video. I’ll walk through the process I used. And as always, my main video editing program is Adobe’s Premiere Pro, currently in the 2017 version.
Like almost all “devices” (non-camera cameras) the S7 records the video in “Variable Frame Rate” mode, where you set a frame rate which is in reality only your “ideal”, and the phone decides how many frames it actually needs to mostly sort of make that quality. I set my phone for 30 frames per second, and it delivered clips that within each clip would range from around 22fps to 31.2fps. What I typically want to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro 2017 is 29.97fps Constant Frame Rate video. So first, I copied the video to my editing computer, then batch-processed all the video media in HandBrake to CFR at 29.97fps at the original 3840×2160 frame size. In HandBrake's "video" tab, you need to check the box for "CFR" ... and set a specific number for your frame rate in the list above that box. If you allow HandBrake to set it as "auto" in Frame-rate, even though you've checked the CFR box, you get VFR clips out!
I imported that into Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 and set to work, trimming out the “extra” material to get down to the bits & pieces that are most interesting. The fly-by’s of the two warbirds were a joy … and as it was the first time we’ve ever seen a Lightning fly, we had no idea the sound was such a deep lustrous rumble! This image is a frame-grab from the video of the planes flying low past the encampment, fully neutralized and color-managed for good “clean” and pretty color using the steps shown below.P-38 and P-51 Flyby at B-17 Alliance Warbirds Event
I started in the Color Workspace using the Lumetri Basic tab (on the left above) applying the same neutralization process to “normalize” the clip that I did to all the other clips. And then I did a bit of further enhancement with the Creative tab shown to the right, using the Vibrance control to increase the saturation in the areas of low color saturation.
This created the “pretty” look of the still image above, but … watching this clip several times, as the planes flew over the olive-drab of the tents and uniforms of the encampment, the clip seemed to need more of a “WWII” feel to it … or Look. Think of all the movies of WWII, so often with a muted color range towards the drab olive greens and pale yellow-green range of hues. So I set about turning this pretty full-color clip into a Vintage WWII Look. To start, I placed an “Adjustment Layer” above the clip on the timeline in Premiere Pro and selected that layer by clicking on it.
Then in the Lumetri Color panel I applied the SL Noir Tri-X “Look” in the Creative tab as shown in the image above. As you can see, the “Tri-X” look is a black and white effect, but I only wanted to take some of the color out, and to use the tonality “curve” of the old Tri-X black & white film. So I pulled the Intensity control for the “Look” down to about 70, then brought the Faded Film control up a bit just to ‘soften’ the colors & ends of the blacks & whites a bit more, and looking at the resultant image on the screen (not shown!) decided to pop the Vibrance (low saturated colors) up more and even just a bit more saturation over-all.
Then I used the Color Wheels tab to lift the Shadows brightness just a bit (the blue slider to the left of the image to the right), pull the Highlights brightness down a bit and push the Highlights color wheel towards yellow/orange a bit to complete the muted look I wanted as shown below.
After that, I used the timed Opacity settings for that Adjustment Layer so that at the beginning of the clip, the image is “normal” color and tonality, but as the planes approach the encampment, it quickly glides into the toned look I was after.
A little adjustment of sound levels made it more “live” … and then the next decision: as I’m not going to be displaying this at 4k, why not use some of those “extra pixels” and zoom in a bit as the planes approach, and even more as they fly away? Why not indeed! So as the clip progresses, the image zooms in on the planes, and then actually pans across the “original” image up and to the left a bit to keep the planes more centered as they fly off into the sky. Note from the full-color image above, how much smaller the planes are than in the video.
A few minutes of fun to watch on that Saturday, a few minutes of fun to create in Premiere Pro, and … I hope you get some moments of enjoyment watching!
Previous Post Lumetri Basic Tab: What do the tonal controls really do?
Copyright © R. Neil Haugen 2016 All Rights Reserved