The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction Paperback – Feb 12 2008
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"Another great offering from Steve Hullfish. There are so many texts out there covering so many different aspects of post-production. Yet the final, all-important step of color correction and finishing has been a true tradecraft. The only way you learned was by sitting at the feet of a master. Steve has demystified much of that and given both beginners and professionals a fantastic resource.
Reading through this text is like sitting at the feet of the masters listening to wisdom. Randy Starnes, Mike Most, Greg Creaser. these are the guys I call when I'm confused about concepts or need clarification, and this is my business! Greg makes a wicked barbecue as well."
-- Lucas Wilson, ASSIMILATE, INC.
"As more of us shoot our own footage, we are also required to become our own colorists. The Art and Technique of Color Correction will help
you develop the skills you need to master this essential art.
Steve demystifies the technical art of color correction by patiently distilling the wisdom of eight professional colorists down to a skill
set any dedicated editor or motion graphics artist can learn. Those new to the field will particularly appreciate how he introduces all of the technical and slang terms required while still speaking plain English."
-- Chris Meyer, Founding Partner, CyberMotion; author- Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, currently in its 4th Edition, After
"Steve Hullfish has written another down-to-earth analysis of digital color correction for video. It's great for editors who are tackling their first color grading job as well as those who do it every day, but want a deeper understanding of how to turn color correction into color enhancement. Not only does Steve give simple and clear explanations of the technical aspects, but he walks the reader through the steps that leading colorists use to apply their own artistic touch. And best of all, readers can try these approaches for themselves, using the very same sample clips. He goes past the 'how-to' so you also understand the 'why'. This book is a must-have for anyone involved in color correction for video."
-- Oliver Peters, President and Founder, Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
From the Back Cover
"Color correction has always been a true tradecraft. The only way you learned was by sitting at the feet of a master.
Steve has demystified much of that and given both beginners and professionals a fantastic resource. Reading this is
like sitting at the feet of the masters.
- Lucas Wilson, ASSIMILATE, INC.
".demystifies the technical art of color correction by patiently distilling the wisdom of over a dozen professional
colorists down to a skillset any dedicated editor or motion graphics artist can learn.
- Chris Meyer, Founding Partner, CyberMotion; author - Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, currently in its 4th Edition; After Effects Apprentice
".great for editors who are tackling their first color-grading job as well as those who do it every day, but want a deeper understanding of how to turn color correction into color enhancement.... Hullfish goes past the 'how-to' so you alsounderstand the 'why'. This book is a must-have for anyone involved in color correction for video.
- Oliver Peters, President and Founder, Oliver Peters Post Production Services
Containing decades of industry experience and know-how, The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction shows postproduction professionals how to take their art to the next level. Featuring correction techniques performed
in a variety of color correction software applications (Apple's Color, Synthetic Aperture's Color Finesse, Avid Xpress Pro, among others), this book turns what has long been a misunderstood 'black art' into a set of skills that any dedicated editor or motion graphics artist can begin to master. Packed with explanations, tips, and concepts that
build on each other, The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction will teach you how to:
.Fix poorly exposed shots and shots with color casts
.Master secondary color correction techniques
.Use color correction to advance a story
The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction features unprecedented insight into the skills needed to master this essential art. The book allows you to improve your grading art and craft with techniques and inspiration
from the masters, as more than a dozen industry professionals guide you through their grading process, explaining the "hows and "whys of each grade. Colorists looking to hone their skills can work side-by-side with these pros by
examining each color-grading step they make on the tutorial video files included on the companion DVD.
Steve Hullfish has been a producer and on-line editor for over 20 years. Through his company, Verascope Pictures, he produces and consults for clients such as Universal Studios, NBC Television, Turner Networks, HIT
Entertainment and VeggieTales.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
First question: Is The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction worth reading?
Answer: Yes! Absolutely.
Second question: Is it targeted at newbies or advanced users?
Yes. To both.
The first two thirds of the book "Primary Color Correction" and "Secondary Color Correction" deals with the fundamentals of our toolsets: monitoring, understanding waveform monitors and vectorscopes, balancing shots, vignettes, HSL isolations, and more. While this part of the book can be safely skipped over by more advanced users to whom all that info is second nature, Steve Hullfish does a nice job of surveying how different software apps approach the same concepts. And when a particular software package has a unique tool for achieving a particular task, he breaks it down for the reader.
The upshot: Even if you're experienced colorist on a Symphony you'll walk away with a strong understanding how other software apps work and what you might be missing (or what advantages you may have that you didn't realize). My advice, advanced users should at least skim through these parts paying particular attention when Steve takes a moment to pull a quote from the working professionals he features in the last third of the book. There are some great tips in these sections - especially on how different colorists set up multi-display scopes to help them nail black balance or tweak color values. I ended up changing some of my displays and found a few new setups that I really like.
Overall, the first two parts are not a dumbed down discussion. While Steve starts by laying down the ground-work emphasizing monitoring and external scopes (the latter being a deep discussion that permeates the entire book - which I very much appreciate), he seems to anticipate some of his readers finding material redundant and thankfully breaks out basic terminology to sidebars. Appropriately, those early chapters work through the subject matter in the same order a colorist will typically approach their problem-solving.
The final third of the book "Pro Colorists" is likely where the advanced users will want to begin. Why? That answer leads us to our third question...
Third Question: What makes this book different than other color correction books (or DVDs)?
The soul of this book is contained in the last few chapters and on its supplemental DVD. Steve sits with over a dozen accomplished, professional colorists and puts them in front of a common software color grading platform, Apple's Color (at the time called Final Touch HD), with a Tangent control surface. He gives them all the same set of footage (also provided on a DVD), presses 'record' on a DV camera and grills the colorists about the approach they are each taking to color correcting those images. The result is the author presenting up to three colorists approaching the same shot using different techniques. Or the same technique being used on different shots. Usually in the words of those colorists. It's a great education.
Even better are the transcripts Steve provides on the DVD that didn't make it into the book but he thought were informative. I've just started to read those and already I've gotten some new ideas about different approaches to common challenges.
Another thing that differentiates this book is its largely software-agnostic approach. Color, Avid Symphony, After Effects, Color Finesse, even Photoshop are all featured in the first 2 Chapters alone. Where interfaces are similar, Steve picks a software package and follows it through - pointing out where users of other apps might find things different. I suspect that if iMovie had a color correction module Steve would have a found a place to feature it.
Fourth Question: Any final thoughts?
This is clearly a book about concepts, not tools. As much as it necessarily covers the How To of working with color correction software, it's the Why Do that is emphasized.
In fact, Why Do is the whole point of the book.
Read it. Live it. Learn it.
1) The viewing environment used when color correcting is of utmost importance - yet this book gives only a very cursory coverage of monitor set up and viewing environment. Instead, the author points to a pervious book of his for this vital information.
2) This book has nearly no discussion of gamuts, color spaces, color profiles, LUTs and other related topics, all of which are critical. In fact, the reason I purchased the book was anticipating an adequate coverage of these topics. I would have returned it, but missed Amazon's return window.
3) The book only mentions Luster once in passing. Other than that there is absolutely no discussion of digital color timing for film. As such, this book should be titled "The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction for Video".
In short, while the book does a good job of covering certain tools and a very nice in depth discussion of secondary color correction, it misses to many important topics that I believe should be included in such a book.
What I really appreciated was the tone and pitch of the book. Most of the time, I find introductory books condescending - they seem to assume your inexperience equals a lack of intelligence (and corny jokes are unbelievable).
Before I read the Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction, I new more or less nothing about colour correction - my former corrections, dare I say it, were largely made using the contrast/brightness control - but this book made perfect sense to me. Steve Hullfish writes enthusiastically and encouragingly, and the book I believe would suit novices and pro's alike. The clear definitions in the margins are an excellent idea and are perhaps the key to the book's ability to transcend the novice/pro divide. If you understand the terminology move on, if you don't the explanations are right there.
Although the book does not give examples from Vegas. It explains colorist parlance in useful analogies, and offers suggestions about where to look for color correction tools in NLE's other than Avid and Apple Color. By in large, I found Vegas had most of the tools, scopes etc, and although I love Vegas, after seeing what Apple Color can provide, I do have a little 'application' envy.
One last thing... here's a small anicdote: I recently made a short film on HDV and showed a couple of people who liked it and before I new it, I was being mentored by a large post production studio. I asked them for some advice on corrections. I ended up sitting down with their senior colourists, watching the film on the big screen and talking shop with them for a couple of hours. We were talking about masks, vignettes, secondaries, colour casts, gamma and all sorts of things that, to be honest, I new nothing about until I read this book. It seems there's no substitute for experience, but because this book is full of advice from colourists with many years of experience, why not learn from your mistakes before you make them!
American Cinematographer magazine's reviewer said this about the book: "likely to become the definitive text on the subject. Sensibly organized, lavishly illustrated and varied in perspective, it's a dense but highly readable summary of the current state of the art."
The cool thing about the book is that it is NOT platform or product specific. The author sat in on sessions with more than a dozen colorists around the country as they all graded the same images. The book walks the reader through those corrections from the viewpoint of these master colorists, instead of from the solitary viewpoint of the author. That's the value of the book. You are literally sitting in with people who have graded TV shows like "24" and "Desperate Housewives" and "LA Law" and "48 Hours" and movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Spiderman" or those beautiful NFL Films.
This is a book for anyone using any software product. It is a book that is more about "why" to do the things you need to do than about "how" to do them with a specific piece of software.
Whenever I need inspiration, I turn to the last chapter in the book, "Creating Looks." This book gave me new direction that I hadn't considered in the past and has helped me build my own "PowerGrade" library. It is by far the best book that I have found on the subject both technically and artistically.
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