Thursday, July 07, 2011

Video Short: Washington Square Park

July 1, 2011
Canon HF200 | Final Cut Pro 7 | Apple Color 1.5

I had wanted to put together a quick video, and also wanted to get more experience with color grading, so I figured that catching some shots of performers in the park would be perfect.

Once I started shooting, I realized that I couldn't just do the usual of taking a bunch of shots and then cutting them to a pre-existing music tracks. Since it's musicians playing music, the only good choice would be to use the sound from their performance. So shots would have to linger longer in between cuts in order to catch any appreciable amount of music. I tried to take advantage of the HF200's optical zoom to move back and forth in order to keep these long shots interesting.

By way of disclosure, in the pianist section, I use the audio from the third shot as "master" and cut between shots before and after that were not filmed in sequence, though it gives the appearance of continuity. It's fudging reality a bit- not enough for me to think it an outright problem, but enough to at least warrant mentioning.

Color grading also provided an interesting challenge. I was down there around "golden hour", with some nice warm lighting of sunset coming in. All in all this was fortunate, but when I got into Apple Color in post, I found myself conflicted between the instinct to try and "correct" the warm light out of the picture entirely, and the desire to retain that golden look. Because I got the sense that the footage leaned almost too heavily toward orange, I wound up correcting it out to neutral, and then adding the warm bias back in in Color's secondary rooms. I imagine that this could be handled any number of ways, though.

I've gotten more used to Color, and the round-trip workflow back to Final Cut, but still find myself feeling a little wishy washy about the results in the final grade. Something feels missing, or at least, I wouldn't give it any credit as a particularly impressive grading job (though arguably it may be a good thing for the color adjustments to be unnoticeable). At the same time, there's nothing guiding just what this should look like (no director or DP but myself), so it's mostly up to my own tastes. Which, based on the material I've done on my own so far, seem to be pretty conservative.

I'll make it a task that for my next impromptu video project, I'll try to shoot something that will require a little more punch or stylization.