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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2007-12-17

Talking Tech: CS3 To Color Correct That Video
By Kim Komenich, San Francisco Chronicle

©2007 Kim Komenich

Photoshop CS3 Extended Edition is useful in many new ways - including as a tool for video color correction.

You can open a Quicktime movie in Photoshop CS3 Extended and use "Smart Objects" to adjust curves, hue/saturation, and anything else that's on the "adjustment layers" tab-- in the same way you'd adjust a still photo.

While the CS3 method is probably not as eloquent (or solid) a way of correcting video color as working with the 2- or 3-Way Color Correctors in Final Cut or the new Apple program "Color", it does let us address video color correction in still photo terms. Then, when you think about it, aren't we really shooting stills at 24 or 29.97 frames a second? Photoshop may or may not have advantages over color correction in Final Cut- that's for you to find out.

The next time you have the afternoon off and want to teach yourself something new, why not give this new way way of "toning" a video a try? If you are outputting to the web via .mov or doing iPod videos, this works very well. (Videos that will be re-imported into a Final Cut project can be trickier- see Step 8).

Try this:
1) Select a 10 or so-second or so clip from your Final Cut (Pro or Express) timeline and export the clip as a Quicktime movie. Don't use Quicktime Conversion. Use the basic Quicktime movie export.

2) In Photoshop CS3 Extended, make sure the Layers palette is open (F7) and close the palettes you won't be using. (If you think you might be doing more of this in the future you can save your palette configuration by going to Window>Workspace>Save Workspace.

3) Import your 10-second Quicktime movie by dragging your movie's icon onto the Photoshop CS3 Extended icon.

4) If prompted by Photoshop to turn off the aspect ratio, click the OK button to acknowledge the message. I didn't change this setting and it didn't seem to matter. If you want to turn it off, go to View>Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction, and confirm that it is unchecked.

Here's the fun part- press the spacebar and you'll see Photoshop play a movie! Photoshop doesn't deal with sound, so you won't hear anything. (If you go to Image>Image Size, you'll see that you are looking at one frame of a video that has all of the characteristics of a still. The Photoshop CS3 Extended "Smart Objects" feature essentially lets you adjust one frame and then apply those corrections to the hundreds or thousands of frames in your clip.)

Play the movie until you find a frame that is representative of the problem you want to fix with Photoshop CS3 Extended. Keep in mind that your changes on this frame will affect the entire clip.

5) Go to Filter>Convert for Smart Filters. Your movie's thumbnail in the Layers palette will now show the Smart FIlter bug in the lower right corner.

6) Go to the little half moon-looking button at the bottom of the Layers palette. When you hold down your mouse button you'll see the all adjustments you can make to curves, color balance and saturation (as well as lots of other, more stylistic changes we hardly ever get to use).

You might choose "Posterize" or something equally over-the-top and OK changes. Wait- there's more! You can now change the look of the filter you chose by going to the top of the Layers palette and changing from "Normal" to more than a dozen other styles, as well as adjusting the filter's opacity and fill.

That's it. You can always create a second adjustment layer at this point, but for the purposes of this little tutorial, let's export. Small projects like Quicktime movies for the Web and iPod movies work really well with this, but you can get dropped frames with larger format clips.

7) These instructions assume that you've been working on a 1080i60 1440X1080 clip. If you have been working on a different size or type of movie, or if you want to experiment with exporting to H.264 or another format, just change the settings.

To Export, go to File>Export>Render Video.
a) In the "Location" section, rename the file.
b) In the "File Options" section, select Quicktime Export. This brings up the Movie Settings Window. Make sure the "Video" box is checked

1) Click on the "Settings" button. This brings up the Standard Video Compression settings, which will probably be the root of all the problems you'll experience from here on. Here's what I've found to work for a 1080i60 1440X1080 clip that I will re-import into a Final Cut project:
a) In the "Compression Type" window select HDV1080i60.
b) In the "Motion" window, select 29.97 fps and select the Automatic Key Frame button.
c) Leave "Frame Reordering" checked and click OK.

2 Click on the" Filter" Button and make any compressor-based exposure/color corrections. (There are a lot of effects here that look suspiciously like stuff from After Effects-- could be fun!) Click OK.

3 Click on the "Size" button and change the dimensions from "Compressor Native" to "Current" but I have to admit- this is where I get confused. I hope some Photoshop/Final Cut genius out there can come up with a solid set of export instructions. If you are exporting an interlaced project for Web use, you can check "De-interlace Source Video.

Click the "Render" button and you should see Photoshop behave eerily like Final Cut as it renders your Quicktime movie.

8) UNCHARTED TERRITORY DISCLAIMER: Please note that I haven't quite figured out how to export corrected videos so they can be imported into an interlaced 1080i60 Final Cut project without sometimes getting dropped frames. I suspect the problem lies in my using what is essentially a "progressive" piece of software (Photoshop) to work on an interlaced movie. After all, progressive videos are nothing but a set of stills which "progress". I've found that the frames will sometimes be dropped when you try to use Photoshop-corrected clips with Final Cut-corrected clips in the same sequence.

In conclusion, color correction should be done in-camera. Software-based color correction isn't realistic in a lot of newspaper Web video workflows. This Photoshop-based process should not be tried on deadline.

If you have the time, and most of your tape was shot under the same lighting conditions you can: 1) correct the whole tape and re-correct the clips shot under different conditions later, or 2) bring the clips you've selected for your story into a new sequence and correct similar clips at once. If you have lots of different situations and lighting conditions, color correction should probably be one of the last tools to use before you output your video. Time permitting in post, you can color correct every change of situation and lighting in your Final Cut project.

Remember that when you use the 2- or 3-way color correctors in Final Cut Pro or the Smart Objects-based color correction process in Photoshop CS3 Extended, you are creating a filter that will be applied during the rendering process. In Photoshop you can't lasso, or dodge or burn or do anything other than make global, picture-wide changes available in the adjustment layers palette. But when you use the "Selective Color" or Hue/Saturation adjustment layers you'll get a better understanding of the way the scopes and Color Correctors in Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Express get the job done.


(Kim Komenich is a staff photographer with the San Francisco Chronicle.)

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