“Too much green in the shadows of her face.” David twists a dial on his control pad and the green subtly goes softer, less obvious. A small change, but suddenly Karen’s face takes on a more natural tone. We’re looking at the work on a wall-sized screen in halflife’s state-of-the-art high-definition viewing room, where it’s dark and comfortable and you can sprawl out on deep, welcoming chairs.
David’s working with Scratch (http://www.assimilateinc.com/scratch.html), an imaging tool for color grading and finishing. There’s an interactive computer screen, a keyboard, and that control pad with the dials. Hue, saturation, lightness. Reds, greens, blues. You can make color decisions that affect the whole image, you can isolate portions of an image and fool around with those. Graphs show sophisticated levels of colors in each image. You can make new curves that vary the colors. You can look at images side-by-side to match them, and wipe back and forth from one image to the other.. You can track effects so that a face you’ve re-colored can maintain a consistent look throughout a shot. You can layer different color decisions. You can store color settings that work in one scene and apply them to another.
The other day it occurred to me that the two things we’re working on right now – color and sound – were not a part of early filmmaking in which stories were told soundlessly in black-and-white. We’ve gotten so much more sophisticated since then, and it’s amazing what we can do. It’s hard not to get lost in the possibilities. What we have to keep asking is how what we’re doing serves the story. Is this color effect merely beautiful, or does it enhance what we want to show here? An ongoing question…
And speaking of sound, Sterling is back at work. He’s still in a neck brace but hopes to get rid of it soon, and is healing nicely. Yea!