Personal View site logo
Expose in the Zone - getting the best image for grading.
  • 146 Replies sorted by
  • @Mark_the_Harp +1 for using "Douchenozzle" , hah

    @shian Just keep up the good work. All of us here appreciate what you are doing and have learned a great deal from you. If others are too set in their ways and refuse to take a fresh look at things, well then so be it. Back to the original topic. I read the link on the CG website about the Zone System and I think I understand the concept now. I'm guessing the only way to perfect it though is to practice A LOT? Being able to place everything in their proper zone is going to take some getting used to. Well practice, here I come.

  • @shian I deal with disruptive techniques, methodologies and technologies on a daily basis in my 'real' line of work. Don't let them get you down, the quality of your knowledge and outputs is just too much to ignore and sells itself. Some folk just don't like change.

  • @shian

    Thanks for that reply.

    but not skin tone, and not consistently because the detail just goes to shit on skin tone above 80 on some profiles,

    Would that account for the blobs on faces which are seen so frequently here on test shots (even those promoting the advantages of one setting over another!), in low light as well as circa 80 ire?

  • I dont't have After Effects (Sony Vegas guy) and cannot use ColorGHear, but I would like to post this here anyway.

    Since I do narrative stuff and weddings, skintone is very important for me - I don't mind blown windows or lamps. Using the highlight clip feature in the GH2, I look for highlights in skin, boost exposure until they clip and then dial exposure down two stops (2 bars on the GH2 built in meter).

    Would this get my skintone within the zone? Clipping occurs above 100 IRE so I guess two stops would put the skin highlight in the 80-ish.

    I kinda base this on the old "Exposing to the right"-discussion and making an analogy to digital sound recording and S/N ratio (i.e. never underexpose).

    Anyway: I would love to use ColorGHear in Vegas :)

  • @oscillian, I think there's enough data in the thread I've linked below to answer that question, if not post your questions there. but 2 bars on this meter (GH2) is 2/3 of a stop - Not 2 stops.

    Or to be more clear - I should say each "tick" is a 1/3 of a stop, each little dot above the ticks is 1 stop as indicated

    In the first graphic of the tutorial that begins this thread you see 2 brackets one for overall target exposure and one for skin tone. That is my safe zone. Adopt it and thrive... and feel more confident that your skin tone will be fine :)

    meter overlay copy.png
    1767 x 1180 - 831K
  • @Shian... I went looking for that thread...couldn't find it....then I see this. Wow...that thing encounter makes me want to buy your ColorGhear (soon). What a mess. Anyways...great info.

  • No worries shian. Keep on what you're doing. fuck'em.

  • @shian Thanks for the link! Much appreciated. Keep on with your excellent work, you're truly talented both artistically, technically and as a teacher! Don't let the flak on Camcorder-users get to you.

  • @Ian_T: even if you don't have AE, being a member of his site is worth it. The learning resources alone will pay for his very reasonable fee.

    @Shian: Yes, fuck'em and stay firm!

  • having had my own run ins with st. barry... you will be respected only if you agree wtih him. B is knowlegable in a broad way but no one knows everything- B's word is gospel over there.

    BTW, I felt ripped off by his hmc-150 book. I expected a lot more for $70. It was pretty pathetic.

    I'd much rather you, Shian, do the Zone system tutorial than argue with B!

    Listen, they can't delete everyone who gives a nod to colorghear. Word of mouth will spread. Especially when you get it ported to premeire and final cut.

  • I'll be at ComicCon till next week, and internet down there is always dicey, so if u don't hear from me it ain't cuz I don't care.

  • @shain Wow, those douchenozzles over at xxx really can't handle someone challenging their little empire.

    I'm not laughing at you, I just knew what was coming when you said you joined. They have more experts than the US Government and more Generals than the Mexican Army.

  • @shian Very nice info. This is so Wabi-Sabi. Careful observation then finding subtle difference.

  • Just a quick reminder - for those who might think 4 stops is not enough, just remember that it's a 16:1 ratio (ungraded) and that it can be graded out very easily to 64:1. 16:1 is classic Hitchcock Noir, 64:1 is Sin City and Blade Runner - Massive contrast. If that's not enough creative latitude for you, what the fuck are you doing???

    I understand trying to get it right in camera. Make it look great on set, and you only have to do mild grading in post. That is what every cinematographer wants, including me. But with time and budget contraints getting ever smaller, and shooting taking place on formats (DSLRs) that are not very forgiving, this technique gives you the most options in post. I can leave the image flat in post, and just adjust skin tones, etc. Or I can create more contrast and punch it up. This technique is for those who are thinking of taking a more creative approach to grading. Or those who just have no time to get it "right" in-camera.

    It is not the be-all, end-all of Cinematography.

  • Do you go around all corners and check EV by using the light meter? Or just a few spots after eyeballing?

    I'm thinking... starting from skin tone first. That becomes a reference. Let's say the highlight on skin tone is 9EV. Plus 1. That's 10EV or max EV. Subtract 3. That's 6EV or min EV. Then work out the skin tone lighting ratio like 2:1 or 4:1 or something like that... and the lighting adjustment on the talents would affect the surrounding lighting EV reading... and vice versa.

  • @stonebat you're in the ballpark... it's good that you are trying to get your head around this on your own. It will serve you well in terms of beginning to think in this headspace. I'll cover it all in the full zone tutorial. Just need to get back into it after ComicCon. Also need to book a model, and get it shot. But trying to do something fun with my choice of model, cuz I'm pretty sure nobody wants to look at me droning on about lighting, and the zone system for 20 minutes unless there's a pretty girl to look at as well.

  • Yay I will bring popcorn and beer :)

  • @shian thank you much for this tutorial , I will probably buy the membership , the lighting tutorials in your film school look very interesting to me, lighting is my weakest point and It´s too important to be ignored ...

    btw, one question on the TV logic monitor with waveform... would a monitor with waveform partially replace a lightmeter? I mean a pro will allways use the best tools possible, but I´m not there.. not even close :) There´s not that much time and people allways get nervous .. I saw some tutorials how to light scene (one was from ryan walters) and he was using 2 light meters, he was calculating the right T-stop for the skin tones and highlights.. I don´t know but it looked to me a little bit too long to use this technique for my essentially amateur work (small commercials, music videos) .. I wanted to ask you what would you say if I set the lights, then set the camera look at the display and waveform , If I need make some changes with lighting (intensity,add some lights, change position) do the necessary changes and that would be all? I can see where´s my blacks/highs and I think almost in all situations also skintones on the waveform monitor so that would be my lighting.. what do you think about that? (I don´t have money for such a pricey monitor but just wanted to know if it can replace using lightmeters to some degree )

  • @hedrox: A waveform monitor can help, yes. However, light meters I find are way quicker, once you learn them. Ryan Walters did a great tutorial and showed all the steps to go through when carefully lighting a scene. Most of that is actually pretty quick once you know it (basically, an incident reading for exposure and then spot metering for parts). Waveform can help you check the spots of a shot, to check blown highlights or too crushed blacks. However for quick exposure, an incident meter and grey cards I find are super quick. You just walk over to the subject, take a reading, set you exposure after that and possibly just check the in-cam meter with a grey card (on a GH2, make sure that is overexposed by 2/3s of a step, as the in-cam spot meter is off) with possibly double checking for hot spots. It's not as nice, but on shoots where high tempo is needed (and minimal lighting) I find it the quickest way, as I don't need the camera setup and can quickly check ratios. Once you know it, it's very quick!

  • @Gabel thanks , I´m new to this metering system, so maybe that´s why it looks to me too long.. can you please clarify me the 2/3 overexposing thing? I am allways underexposing my GH17 for 1/3 or somethimes 2/3 EV because I want to prevent from clipping (shooting nostalgic all -2 except saturation 0) has it something to do with calibrating the lightmeter and the gh2? I´m little bit confused about overexposing

  • Got 2 days to go before we start rolling on my next short. I'm also trying to get my head around the 4 stop zone system to give me the best image for grading.

    I will be using small hd evf (no waveform), and a sekonic light meter. So as far as my understanding is correct....

    I am best to use my light meter to take an incident reading of the skin, then set my aperture based on that (fixed iso at 320 and 24fps). quickly check the EV reading in-cam and make sure it confirms its +2/3 EV. Then I can use the histogram to look for the highlights and blacks and then either add more light to the blacks or reduce the light for the highlights to ensure that they both fall in within the -2/+2 EV.

    If I take a reading with the light meter of the brightest part of my scene and it's more than 2 stops over exposed, then I need to trying and bring these down if not add more light to the subject to bring it closer to the highlights, then take another incident reading and correct my aperture accordingly to give me the best skin tones and then the highlights should also be closes to the +2 EV or less.

    Does this sound right, or am I missing something fundamental?

    Thanks in advance.

  • @thoughts2uk that is my understanding. But, I'm pretty new to this zone system as I know many other are too. If you have full control over the lighting on your scene, do it the way you said. Light your subject properly, then bring up the shadows and bring down highlights in the scene to make them fall within the 4 stop range. If you are in an environment where you don't have full control over lighting, you have to decide what is the brightest thing in the shot that you don't want blown out. Once you decide, you consider that your +2 and then have to light your subject based off of that. If I am in any way wrong, please feel free to correct me anyone.

  • @hedrox: I'd change to Smooth, Nostalgic does some weird stuff with the highlights. What I mean about overexposing is when using spot metering on a grey card, then it should be at +2/3s EV rather than 0.

  • The CGFS Tutorials cover how to use a meter and a gray card, as for some of the other stuff being discussed here, there are resources in the following links as to where to expose.

    Here are your 20-80 handheld meter and in-cam meter settings

    And there's a chart here that shows how far off your meter is from the meter I use

    I use a Gossen Digisix cuz it's cheap and just about everyone can afford one. It gives me a reading that is between 2/3 and 1 full stop off the in-cam meter. So I set my exposure by taking an incident reading from the key light, then check the in-cam spot meter against a gray card from the key light, and make a micro adjustment to the aperture to get it to 2/3 (if necessary), and everything else is based off that. Until I get the full tutorial up, these links and the video tutorial that began this thread should get you in the ballpark.

    If you have a gray card it should have a cheat sheet on the back to help you adjust for lighter or darker skin.

    The full Zone System tutorial will cover where things should be exposed for optimum color reproduction, and then how to compress everything into the 4 stop zone.