Offseason Video Training

I like to use the downtime of winter to try new things for the upcoming year; to see what works and what it might mean to my workflow.

Today was all about video – can I do this without going nuts? Without buying another 10TB of disk storage?

Turns out, yes, I can.

For starters, software is a no-brainer. While Final Cut Pro X looks interesting and is probably what I’ll purchase, Adobe did something interesting and released Lightroom 4 (beta, which means free), and it does two things MUCH better than LR3: Video and Albums. I’ve always used LR3 for albums, but LR4 makes it more straightforward. What really interested me was video, and how LR4 presets can be used to do color grading against video, and some rudimentary editing.

What is video color grading, and how does LR4 do it? The best answer is from Julieanne Kost; she works for Adobe and actually uses this stuff: http://tv.adobe.com/watch/whats-new-in-lightroom-4-beta/working-with-dslr-video/ My only beef with these training videos is they are SOOO dry. I’ve seen Julieanne speak at WPPI, and she she comes across far funnier (and smarter) in person. Ah well.

So now I can take a still image that I’ve ran through the Develop module can color-tweaked to my liking, and save all the adjustments as a preset, and then apply that preset to an entire video clip. It’s a little clunky, but probably not any more mouse clicks than FCPX.

Here is the still image after I’ve got it looking like I want. Notice it’s more square than the 16:9 HD video frame below it.

 

And now for the video… here is a single frame of the ‘before’ version of the video:

 

There are a couple of interesting things here, like the lack of color and contrast, which was done intentionally as part of this test. For both the still image and this single frame, I set the camera to record a very low contrast image. By not pushing the image to show extreme black, white, or colored areas there is more wiggle room to adjust this after the fact. Had I recorded with higher contrast or saturation I might have had trouble with the dark patches in the trees or the bright white clouds not holding any real data and being maxed out (just 0000’s or 11111’s).

So after applying the preset, and tweaking it to be a bit lighter in the video, this is the result:

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