Transcript of 'Video 8b – Working with camera footage with Grace Eyre – editor '


I'm Grace Eyre, I'm a screen editor. I cut narrative, documentary, and TV commercials.

If you're working on a smaller production, chances are you won't have access to a professional colourist or a expensive colour grading software. But there are a few things that you can do to make sure that your film still looks as good as it can and that all happens in the shoot in production, right?

So primarily, the things that you need to be concerned with or the person who's shooting the film needs to be concerned with is white balance.

That's a huge one. I'll explain white balance in a second. And exposure. So, white balance is basically you want something that is actually white in real life to look white on the screen.

And what that does is it calibrates all the other colours to be true or correct, because basically the camera's eye is not as sophisticated as a human eye. A camera's eye will interpret indoor light or tungsten light as orange, and it'll interpret daylight as blue.

Where our eyes adjust for that all the time, the camera is not as good at doing that. So it's really important to make sure that you white balance everything properly. And sometimes that's just an auto setting. Sometimes it's a little more in depth, but it's definitely something to look into.

The reason white balance is important is because if footage comes back a little bit blue or a little bit orange, sometimes it can be fixed, but the problem is that skin tones start to look strange really quickly, and you don't want that.

You don't want to have to adjust something from blue and put a little orange in it and then suddenly all of your characters look like they have jaundice. You know, you want to make sure that people read as healthy living human beings at the end of the day. So that can be noticeable really quickly.

The other thing that needs to happen is the exposure. So it needs to be a nice middle ground where all of the highlights, so all the brighter parts of the picture, still have detail in them and they're not blowing out to white.

That can be really tricky as well because if something has blown out to white or really bright, there's basically very few options for pulling that back and giving it a little bit of shade and depth.

So, you want to make sure that you haven't overexposed. You also want to make sure you haven't underexposed, because if you need to brighten things up, that can often introduce a lot of grain.

So those are the two most important things that you can do when you're shooting to make sure that you don't have colour issues later on. If you've mastered those things and everything has gone well, it's exposed and white balanced properly, then you can use the tools inside of your own editing software like Premier or Avid.

I assume you're using Premier or a similar software, but basically all you really need to do with footage that's been well shot, if anything, is maybe crank the contrast just ever slightly.

The saturation just a tiny smidge and see what it looks like. And you definitely don't want to go too overboard with that. You really just want something that looks nice and crisp.

Unless it's really justified, I would generally avoid stylized tints on things, you know, like, making something sepia if it's a flashback or something. I would be sparing with that.

You can do it, but you have to just make sure that A, it's well done and B, there's a really good reason for it.

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Last updated: 18 November 2022