Post Production POSTS

Are You Qualified? The Biggest Issue of Secondary Color Correction

For me, the biggest issue of secondary color correction is qualification. I’m not talking about whether the colorist is skilled enough to do it. I’m talking about what portion of the image you are trying to qualify—in other words, “choose”—as the section in which you make alterations. “To qualify” or “qualification” means that an area of the picture is specifically isolated for a correction by any number of methods. You could qualify something for correction using its hue, saturation, tonal value, or a combination of all three. You could also qualify an area of the image using a “window” or garbage matte. This is an important concept to grasp.  Creating effective qualifications when doing secondary color corrections requires a good understanding of your tools and of your ability to analyze the image and understand what can be selected and how.

Photo by Erix!

As for developing an ability for understanding what can be isolated in a shot, that is a matter of some experience and—for even the best colorist—a good deal of experimentation. Of course, the more experienced you are at making these qualifications, the less experimentation you need. Getting that knowledge and practical experience is what the rest of this chapter is about.

Once a portion of the image is well qualified, altering it is largely based on the skill sets of the previous four chapters.

Definition: vignette: One of the layperson’s meanings for this word is for a photograph or other image with edges that shade off gradually. To a colorist, “vignette” is both a noun and a verb. The noun describes a shape placed in the picture to allow a different correction inside and out. Most often, this correction is used to create the effect of fading out (darkening usually) the edges of the image. As a verb, it is simply the action of making the vignette or the effect the vignette has on the image, as in “I vignetted it so that the center of the image pops a little better.” Additionally, Color uses the word to describe any use of a shape to create or modify a secondary. For other software, these are considered windows or masks.

Increased contrast is one of the brain’s visual cues that something is closer to us (and therefore inherently more important). Qualifications in secondaries are done in three basic ways:

1. Isolating a specific color vector or luminance range or a combination of the two

2. Using a shape to define a portion of the image

3. Using a combination of the two For all three of these methods, the basic concept is to create a matte or mask that limits the correction to a specific portion of the image.

There are also three basic steps to doing a secondary color correction:

1. Determine what you are trying to accomplish

2. Figure out how you can qualify the correct portion of the image without qualifying unwanted areas

3. Make a correction inside and/or outside of that qualified area Let’s take a look at the three methods of color correction and walk through each of the three steps with each method.

Excerpt from The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction, 2nd Edition by Steve Hullfish © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.

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