SKIN TONE COLORS, why are they so important in video! With perfect looking skin tones I mean getting the skin tones looking as good and natural as possible without unwanted color casts.
For the human eye, skin-tones are often the most eye-catching part of a scene (even if most of us are unaware of this). Beautifully looking skin tones are attractive to our eyes but skin tones that some how do not look correct give us a sense of being out of place and are not appealing. In a movie or a picture, most probably the first thing we automatically look for is a face. This is because we naturally identify with a persons face. Film makers, cinematographers, videotographers, producers and directors, often go the extra length to get great looking over all skin tones and a di colorists can ad a lot of value to the production. Please see at the bottom of this article the exceptions.
Often we hear, I have a talking head video and the message is more important than how it looks, the story is important after all, isn’t it…..!!!?
Consider the following example of an on line promotion video with on the left the final version with the corrected skin tones.
How ever there are tons of material all over the Internet with incorrect, strange and even extreme looking skin tones. How ever there are also many videos in which the producers went the extra length to include a di colorist to do the color correction. The results are obvious and while an editor with good eyes can do some good, di colorists are trained especially for this purpose. Using special color correction programs as Scratch and Davinci Resolve and using scopes to color correct images.
WHY USE SCOPES?
Well, if you put 20 monitors in one room they will all probably look a little different and even when using highend calibrated monitors used by professional di colorists, scopes are very handy and a good guidance because our eyes will see things different when we just wake up or when we have been awake for 8 hours.
We often hear for example, OOoh this looks a bit too…… yellow on my phone, but what if the phone screen is just a bit yellow?
SCOPES NEVER LIE, MONITORS CAN AND OUR EYES CAN PLAY TRICKS ON OUR BRAIN!
Agreed, this is an extreme example but please draw your own conclusion. When objects are placed on different background colors our eyes see them different. The scope how ever will read out the exact same reading for the left dog as for the right dog.
There are exceptions to the rule and these are often used in movies: When you plan a color cast to tell a story, for instance a magenta looking face because the person happens to be in a discotheque or a yellowish orange highlights to support a dessert scene.
Colored lights and gels are great for DOPs to create moods and support the story telling. Sometimes the look of a whole movie has a color feel. This is when a movie is color graded in a certain direction.
Some more examples: