What did I ever do without having a color chart on-set? After spending so much time over these past few years as an editor, finally adding a color chart to my own production arsenal hit me as a “why the he*k weren’t we shooting with one of these for years now?” moment. Many on-set camera color and calibration charts are super expensive, so it’s an item that would definitely get pushed down towards the bottom of any indie producer’s must-buy list. However, these days you can get something like the X-Rite Color Checker Video chart (which I picked up)
or the more rugged Color Checker Passport Video for under $150.
Given how prolific higher-quality, lower priced cameras are becoming (not to mention all the picture profile options!), you’re going to increasingly run into a wider variety of footage “flavors”. Getting all this footage to match and look right once you start cutting then gets even more difficult, and having an accurate reference point to start from will make your life so much easier.
Look at these two screen shots: the first one is right out of the camera, and the second one is with corrected.
It’s hard to tell the difference between the two, but once you take look at the video scopes, you can see the difference. The four more or less solid lines in the middle of the scopes represent the white, 40IRE grey, dark grey, and black stripes on the color chart.
Using a basic Levels adjustment, you can change the R/G/B/A input and output values so that the white is actually white, the black is actually black, and your exposure is on-point. SO much easier than simply guessing, since as an indie producer you probably don’t have a properly calibrated monitor to correct from, right?