Working With Reference Images Part 2: Evaluating Camera Source Footage

August 8, 2020

In Part 2 learn how you can evaluate the source footage on your timeline to answer: Is this footage a good match for our references?


Do Your Reference Images Line Up With The Footage On The Timeline?

In this Insight, we’re continuing our exploration of working with reference images. As we discussed at the outset of this series, the ability to break down a reference image and borrow visual ideas from it is a vital skill for working colorists.

In Part 1, we focused on evaluating our references and identifying their key components, much like a chef might evaluate a dish, or a musician a piece of music.

In this Insight, we’re going to focus on making a similar study of the material to be graded. This is just as important as understanding our references because we need to incorporate the right ideas, in the right way, in order to best serve our footage. To do this, we’ll ask:

  • How processed is the footage — RAW, Log, or Gamma?
  • How well-exposed is the footage?
  • What are the strongest and weakest technical aspects of the footage?
  • How similar is the footage to our reference in terms of subjects, environments, lighting, and lensing?

Finally, we’ll use this information to identify which of the attributes identified in Part 1 we’re going to focus on borrowing from our reference.

After completing these steps, we’ll be in an ideal position to dive into Part 3, where we’ll use everything we’ve learned to get hands-on and build our look.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or something to add to the discussion – including how do you go about evaluating your source material? – please use the comments below.



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Homepage Forums Working With Reference Images Part 2: Evaluating Camera Source Footage

  • Robbie Carman

    It’s great to see this process broken down. I mean I do what you show in Pt1 and here in PT1 but hearing you say the things I think is great reassurance!

  • Cullen Kelly

    Thanks Robbie! Great to hear this tracks with your experience — like you said, for some reason this isn’t something we talk about often as colorists!

  • Willian Aleman

    Thank you for the insights. I found them very informative and well structured. I can not wait for part 3.

  • Kunal T

    Thanks for the breakdown of the thought process. It really helps. Sometimes, as a beginner, I find myself moving the controls before thinking why I am moving them. I believe I will build that kind of speed after years of experience, when all the thought processes you described will occur at lightning speed, but at this stage, my impulsiveness seems to cost me my grade. What I took away from this series is to stop and think and evaluate, before acting.
    Thanks again!

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