Day for Dusk Grade Advice (1 reply and 2 comments)
I'm grading my short film and before I create a DCP and head to the theater to test, I'm hoping for some advice from those with more experience in such a grade, and what will translate well. I have two PDFs on Google Drive linked below, the first explains my intent, how the footage was shot, and on what, and the process I went through to get from the original to the graded footage. The second PDF contains additional graded frames from the movie to represent different lighting throughout. The entire short film (8 mins) has the same grade/look.
I've also included a short length of footage, both the original out of camera, and the graded version for visual comparison. They can be found below.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
To me it feels graded down; too much detail in the darks and the overall tonality of the grade looks "fake" or better said: "unusual". The slight purple hue could be realstic if it's in the winter, otherwise I would go for a more blue hue.
The tonality problem has to do with how the footage was exposed. I'm not really experienced but IMO you should underexpose the footage on set. The scene referred values have to be extremely low.
Of course, a lot of your shadow detail will be gone, but this is what happens when you shoot underexposed scenes with film or a natural looking look on a digital camera..
This is why I believe it looks a bit strange; the tonality of the image is a bit too different from what our eyes see.
My guess is that the strenght of the luma power curve is too weak which results in a pretty flat contrast. I would suggest you to grade it back to a natural look and then take everything 2-3 stops down.
As you can you can see, the skin of your actress is a bit whiter than the surrounding things so you'll probably have enough seperation to see her running.
If you get it back to a natural contrast/tonality, then I think her skin will "pop" even more.
Alternatively you can also track her figure, very roughly, secondary grade select her skin values, isolate them and raise their exposure if you need them to stand out more although I doubt it will be a problem.
In cinema (and in life as well) you don't have to see everything to get an "idea" of your surroundings. Sounds does a lot as well.
So let a large portion of those darks go completely black is what I would suggest.. and get your overall contrast back to a natural looking tonality and then take it all down 2-3 stops.
I don't know, however, of a tool on how to achieve a reduction of 2-3 stops by manipulating your "overexposed" footage.
I know that certain raw decoders have an exposure correction tool but I don't know how to properly do it in a grading application.
Maybe it could be done by adjusting the luma curve in the correct manner.
apart from the grade:
I really like the jump cut (or is it a jump crop?) in the profile tracking shot; I didn't notice it the first time but it seems to help build the intensity of the action.
Not really digging the POV shot though.. kinda fights with the profile shot IMO.
The profile shot is very objective, the POV extremely subjective.. the gap between the two is a bit large. I think you can have the profile tracking shot playing for up to about 20 - 30 seconds, starting from a very wide frame, gradually magnifying and ending in a medium shot maybe, occasionally using that jump cut/crop technique to build the intensity.
Not that I think it won't "work" as it is but I personally consider it a bit like a spelling or grammar mistake ^^
Oh jeez sometimes I'm talking way too much out of my ass. My apologies ^^