When filmmakers talk about color, most often it revolves around whether or not skin tones look good. Getting them right requires a lot of know-how and experience. People will often decide what camera to go with based on how color looks straight out of camera since it can be that important.
Premiere Basics has put together a quick tutorial on quickly nailing your skin tones. It goes into detail on the tools that you can use and some general techniques. By the way, one thing that often gets overlooked is that you need a good, color-accurate display like the BenQ PD3420Q showed off here.
What you need to learn to understand color and grading is how to read your scopes. In Premiere Pro you can find these in the Lumetri Scopes window – turn in on in the Window menu if you don’t have it accessible.
Waveforms are a very commonly used scope, even during on-set monitoring. That this shows is a representation of brightness values in your scene. It is interesting in that it shows you readings across the frame. The left side of your waveform represents the left side of your frame, for example. It has a range from 0-255, which is pure black to pure white.
This is helpful since it helps you see how brightness ranges are distributed across the frame. To make it even more useful you can use a mask to only select a small area of the frame. If you select skin tones you can then see just how bright they are.
For skin tones, the wide standard is to have them sit at around 70% brightness. Looking at your waveform and making adjustments to the image you can bring up (or down) the brightness until your skin tones sit at around 70%. With darker skin tones this will change to around 40-60%, depending on the exact skin color.
Now with brightness fixed you can focus on color. Swap out your waveform with a Vectorscope YUV. It displays all the colors in the frame on a color wheel. More saturation will spread the colors wider on the wheel. Applying a mask allows you to check out just the skin tones again.
A neat part of the vectorscope is a guideline in the upper left that refers to skin tones. You can then use your color wheels to make tweaks to have your skin tones line up with this guideline.
With just that little bit of knowledge, you should be able to start getting better skin tones much faster and more reliably.
[source: Premiere Basics]
- Adobe Creative Cloud (B&H, Amazon)
- Adobe Premiere Pro CC (B&H, Amazon)
- BenQ PD3420Q DesignVue 34” HDR Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
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