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R Neil Haugen has given me lots of help with this, including helping me replicate his work on my machine. I can't thank him enough. He has also written a detailed article describing what he did and I think he plans to share this with the community. He's the kind of guy who represents everything that's good about these forums. Cheers, Neil!
It's amazing, Ann. If Neil is busy, I'd like to edit his guide for posting on here and include stills from the project. He might beat me to it, but I'll ask him if he wants me to help with this.
I'l post on here a bit later today what I did. Had fun doing it, and ... was pretty quick. It's really a step by step process, with the media dictating what you do at each step. Well ... it also takes understanding that it's better to break up the process across tools rather than forcing everything with one or two. Fewer artifacts ...
I was just teasing.
First, this is a salvage operation all right ... the outside foliage and buildings are just gone in at least one if not mulitple channels, complete hard-lined clips. if you need a complete replacement of the outside, that's ... another expert. And bill. But, the interviewee can still be salvaged as needed.
In grading, the FIRST thing is to get things as neutral as possible. Both tone and color. Then you match neutralized clips ... then fix what needs fixing and you have time for ... then polish. That's the general workflow used.
As changing color relationships can change tonal ranges, I start with trying for neutral color first. The White balance control of Lumetri's Basic tab does exactly what it says ... balances Whites. The far out, least saturated part of the image. NOT bloody useful to me. I rarely use the "white balance" in the Basic Tab.
So ... I went to the Creative tab, to the Shadow and Highlight tint wheels. Starting with Shadow tint, look across the RGB Parade scope (you could use WaveformRGB if you preferred) ... find something about a third of the way up that's a shape the same in all three channels. Look at the image to see where that would be, and if it should probably be close to the same in all three channels. Then adjust the Shadow Tint to level that feature across the three channels of the scope. It also involves a bit of eyeball on the image, but ... trust the scopes unless they're proven wrong!
Now ... find a shape across all three channels that's about a third of the way down from the top ... and same as with shadows, level that primarily from the scopes but verifying with eyeballs. Again, the Mark I Eyeball is an amazing relative instrument, but for precise accuracy ain't worth much. Trust the scopes, verify with the eyes on the image. At this point, you should be close enough to a 'neutral' color tint to move on.
Looking settings as first applied in the image, to see what I've done ... see how far I had to push the color of the tint wheels to orange-red? And how similar in place they are? (Although the Vibrance and Saturation controls have been adjusted in this image, that work came later in the process.)
So ... we've now hopefully got pretty close to color neutral. In this case, there were some both shadow and highlight tones from lighting that needed later correcting, but I got as close for the whole image as I could. Now, I took the Creative tab Saturation to 0. All the way left. A black & white image.
Now look at any image you are grading ... do you see things clearly? Especially ... the part you want the viewer to see first, does that have the right tonal values and contrast relative to the rest of the scene and especially things close to it, to guide the eye in to where you want? If not, some tonal work is necessary and this is best done without color interfering ... hence no saturation. That area of emphasis here is a face of course.
At this point ... if there's just a little bit to do, I'll probably skip to the Color Wheels and work there. In this case, it needed a fair amount of work, so I started with the Basic tab. Added more contrast to pop the face. (The Basic tab "exposure" control I don't much care for ... it's weird and does different things depending on whether you go up or down, I normally avoid it). I raised contrast, then dropped both shadows and whites sliders this time using the Mark I Eyeball for most evaluation, as it's the way the tones and contrast appear to the eye that is important in this step.
Then back to Creative tab, double-click the Saturation to return to "no effect" centered and Holy Crud ... with the Vectorscope YUV alongside the RGB Parade, the Vectorscope was all nuts out of bounds. Pulled saturation back to about half-way from center out, then upped Vibrance to get more tone in low-color areas primarily skin. And ... yea, the greens mixed into the skin ain't the prettiest thing you'll see this year. So ... going to the Curves tab and that odd Saturation wheel, I started putting points in between greens to orange, and tugging the greens down to the center a bit while pushing the narrow orange-area of skin tones out (up). You can only push one control for something like this so far before 1) its starts being odd to obvious something's been done and 2) you get artifacts in exports. Often better to split things like this among several tools. So I went as far as seemed reasonable and then back down just a little.
Now ... onto the Color Wheels. First, I wanted to mod the tonalities a bit more, expanding the area of the midtones of the skin, so while pushing mids Luma down I pushed shadow Luma up to keep the shadows from going deeper as I brought the bottom - mids down. This compressed the low values that don't matter much and gave wider tonal range and visibility to the upper mids of the face there. I also decided to push the Highlights color just a titch towards skin-orange, as there were still some faint blues in the skin highlights.
Now ... there was still an issue in the shadow skin tones especially under the chin and to the viewer's left side of the neck. Greens ... a Very Bad Thing in skin. The quickest way to get at that is an HSL qualified selection ... so off to the HSL tab, and used the eye-dropper to select the left side of his neck then setting the visible mask option to Color/Grey and 'on'. After playing a bit, I turned off both Luma and Sat, as I got the best coverage of his neck without them (and wasn't worried about anywhere else this key would affect) ... and moved the Denoise and Blur settings up so as not to get any visible edge or chatter while moving. I switched the color wheel mode to the three-way option, and adjusted the wheels as you can see ... pushing the tones farther to the 'skin' type of orange in the shadows than mids or highs, as that seemed to get the best look with the mask off. I added a bit of contrast to the keyed selection area and pulled saturation back just a bit ... it's shadows mainly, it's better to have visible luma contrast and less saturation in shadows. More "natural" looking.
After all that, I went back to the Creative tab and did a last bit of work with Sat & Vibrance. This time, making sure total Sat was still well within bounds and if anything a bit subdued, and Vibrance was up as much as I could to bring out skin tones without being too much.
Getting that skin looking as close to "real" as possible is of course the key. Then that other things are off isn't nearly the problem, is it? It's a "memory color". You need to handle those. Skin ... skies (which aren't blue but shades of Cyan, of course ... but we think of them as blue!) ... red bricks, the green of grass (that's mostly yellow, actually ... ) and so on. The buildings in this clip don't matter so much, and the outside foliage is blown out so far as to be of no interest ... as long as the skin looks real enough, it's the best you can do.
Here's where I was at this point ...
All the above took only a few minutes, as I knew from training & practice how to sort out what needed doing each next step along the way.
But, I wanted to lift the eye sockets and go for a bit more ... clarity? ... definition? ... in his clothing. So ...
- Alt-drag the clip to V2, to get a copy above the original.
- In the Effects Control panel set the "blend mode" as shown in the png to "Soft light".
- Enlarge Program monitor to say 75% to get face to fill much of the screen, then in the Effects Control panel, just under the Lumetri effect line, use the icons to select a polygon mask in the monitor and make one like I've done. I started by clicking at a high point on the nose, went down left on cheek, to outside lower area of leftish eye, to above eyebrow, then center of upper eyebrow area, outside rightish eyebrow, outside lower corner of eye, down to cheek below eye, and closed by clicking the start point on nose.
- Expanded the feathering as shown.
- Using the track feather forward/backward arrow icons, track the mask the full distance of the clip.
This is the mask and ECP settings for V2 at this point ...
What I did in Lumetri in this layer after adding/tracking the eye-area mask was the following:
- In the color wheels for layer V2, I reset the Luma values for all three wheels then lifted midtones luma to lift eyesockets up to better visibility.
- Overall shadows were now a bit too dark so I went to V1 Lumetri and Color Wheels tab, lifting shadow Luma a bit to raise blacks/shadows to taste.
- Whites also were now too far out, so went to the Highlight wheel and dropped it to taste again.
This expands out the contrast a bit, and gives more of a sense of "real" to the details and contrast along the edges of tones. Lifts the eyes nicely too.
Excellent, but this will get lost over time.
Why not put it in a document here on the forum.