Video Color Correction Techniques & Tutorials
In the days before CF, SD, and MicroSD cards when video was being shot on tape, as an editor I could always tell when something had been shot by a guy who was used to shooting film. They never stopped rolling. Take after take, in between takes; always rolling. There was an attitude that “tape is cheap” as apposed to film, so why not roll on everything and avoid missing something important? By contrast, due to the costs of film, processing and telecine, film shoots were tightly controlled and had a film stock “budget”. Continuous rolling was simply not practical and takes were rehearsed before the camera rolled. Fast forward to tapeless acquisition and the media is even cheaper than tape. One can acquire footage with wild abandon with no regard for adding cost to the project, right? Not so fast.
Say your agency has a big shoot coming up. You’ve hired a great director with a great DP and your’e shooting it on the RED, Alexa or F65. You’ve got an art director and an in-house video guy who are going to be on the shoot who both own a 5D. Since they are there anyway, you decide to let them shoot a bunch of extra footage to give the creative team and the editor “options” in post. Since they are there anyway and the media is cheap, it won’t cost anything extra for them to shoot those options right?
Nope. Since camera media is re-usable, all those media cards have to be transferred to some kind of long term storage. Whether that is a hard drive or tape, storage costs will add up. Since hard drives have a shelf life of roughly 5 years and suffer from mechanical failure, the original media will need to be duplicated on more than one drive (doubling the drive costs) or archived to a long term (30 years) archival format like LTO tape. LTO tape is a bit more expensive than drives, but doesn’t suffer from the mechanical failure rates. Since someone (a DIT or post house guy) has to manage all that media, add additional human and machine time costs for transferring your original media to LTO tape or additional hard drives. That “free” additional footage has in fact generated some additional costs on the back end. Though storage itself is relatively cheap, depending on how much “free” footage was acquired, this cost could either be negligible or significant. Either way it is a cost that must be factored in.
The real cost can be seen as post begins. Despite all the marketing hype of native format editing it is usually still a good idea for footage to be transcoded into an edit-friendly format. Transcoding footage and loading it into the editing software takes time and has a cost. More footage, more cost. In addition, a good editor is going to want to see everything that was shot, both the stuff from the main camera and all the extra stuff. Going through what could potentially be hours of additional footage has a cost attached to it in terms of the editor’s hourly or day rate. In the example above, if the agency had just shot with the one RED (or Alexa, or F65, or whatever) camera there may be only one day needed to log and sort the footage. All that additional “free” footage could double that time and double the cost. If it cost $1200 for a day of edit, then that “free” footage has now cost an additional $1200, plus the cost of the time it took to load and transcode it, plus archiving and storage costs. And let’s face it, the experienced photographer with the RED is more likely to generate useable footage than the guys running around with the 5D just hoping to catch something. Save some money and tell the guys to leave their 5Ds at home.
And that brings us all the way back around to what was REQUIRED in the film shooting days. They used to call it “planning”. Know what you need to shoot, and shoot that. Of course there are those documentary style shoots that can’t be planned very tightly and in that case just plan on the additional costs of storage, archiving, back up and sorting all the footage. Just don’t for one minute think that shooting everything in lieu of planning ahead is going to save money. It is merely shifting the cost somewhere else.
Oh, and while we’re talking about cost shifting, here’s a good example of the ramifications of 4K. Say you’re shooting a long form video destined for web, DVD and perhaps a presentation. You also need some high resolution stills for a website, brochures, whatever. You save money on a photographer by deciding to shoot 4K video and pulling print resolution stills from the video. Since you’re already paying the video company to shoot, you’re saving a ton of money by not hiring the photographer… BUT your storage and archiving costs have increased three to six fold. If a regular HD shoot has $500 worth of storage and other media management costs, the 4K shoot will have costs in the $3000 range.
There’s just no free lunch. Sure, there are ways to save money but a project must be looked at holistically from storyboards to final deliverables. Every moving part affects every other moving part and saving money in one area might cost money in another. Talk to your team, and talk to your post guys. Begin with the end in mind.
You might be also intereste to check: What color is this dress? Why you need a good colorist…