Friday, 19 June 2009

Overexposure Correction in Final Cut Pro Tutorial

I'm going to try something a bit different today, which is rather than the just show bits from the finished results of something I've done, show what went in to doing it, in the form of a tutorial (that hopefully will be easy for people to understand).

In a recent programme, one of the shooting days was incredibly bright and sunny, and unfortunately, the actress playing a newsreader ended up with parts of her face being burnt out. I'm going to talk through how to go from this:

To this:

Big improvement!

First of all, this requires a plugin for Final Cut Pro, but it's free, so don't worry!

Captains Blowout Fixer

Take a look at the rest of the site, there's lots of interesting stuff on there.

Basically, what this filter does is allow you to look at the red, green and blue channels of an image seperately, select the least damaged and colour correct it to fill in those burnt out areas.

Here you can see the original image again, and then the red (most damaged), green and blue (least damaged, in this case) channels;





You should be able to see clear differences between these images.

There are limitations to this method, but the most serious issues are covered. The technique I'm going to describe only really helps with select areas, in this case the face. Burnt out roads or skies require separate techniques that require more work, because it tends to be that whole sections of image burn out, here we are just dealing with facial highlights.

Right, so the actual process to go through is as follows. Grade your clip and get it looking as you would like (bar the overexposed portions, obviously!), copy the clip and put the duplicate on top of the original in your timeline. Mask out the area you want to affect with the shape mask (Effects > Video Filters > Matte > Mask Shape), set it to oval and position it so the face is masked out and then use the Mask Feather (the effect above Mask Shape in Effects > Video Filters > Matte) to soften it's edges. You'll find this easier if you drop the opacity the lower video track. Now, select the clip we just masked, and go to Effects > Video Filters > Color Correction > Captain's Blowout Fixer. You should now have a screen that looks something like this:

You can see here that I've selected the Blue channel as the "From" (being the least damaged), the Red channel as the "To" (being the most damaged) and the "View" to Final (so I can see what I'm doing!). You now need to adjust the setting until the burnt out gaps fill in as much as possible with the most natural looking colour. I've left the "Threshold" and "Tolerance" as they are so as to get the minimal amount of interference with the non-burnt colours.

If you were to stop and make the bottom layer visible again now, you'd have made a pretty good stab at correct the overexposed areas of her face. But there's more to really improve this!

The next step is to make sure that you really are only affecting the damaged areas, and we do this with the Luma Key. Here you can see the affect that the Luma Key has on the mask, and the settings used for this shot:

Fiddle with these for your shot, but they probably won't be far off :o)

And you should have something that's as much of an improvement as this:

I hope that this has been helpful, let me know if so and also if you have any questions I'll get back to you as soon as I can!

Also, if anyone can tell me why blogger is making me write in italics now, I'd be grateful...


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