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Avid Tutorial: How to Bring Your Shots to Life with These Basic Color Correction Tips

04.22.13 @ 6:32PM Tags : , , , ,

As most post-production folks know, Avid Media Composer is not the most intuitive piece of software. Even the simplest of tasks can take far too much time if you’re unfamiliar with the Avid interface and workflow. However, once you’ve grown accustomed to the program, it becomes one of quickest and most powerful editorial tools at your disposal. Because Avid is such a prominent tool within the industry, yet one that is shied away from by many younger filmmakers, I will be starting the “Avid Tutorial” series (and a Premiere version as well). Each post will be an aggregation of the best topical video tutorials from around the web in order help people become better oriented with the key concepts and functions within the software. So without any further ado, let’s take a peak at some of the basic color correction functionality built into Avid Media Composer, and see how you can take your shots from bland to vibrant in a few easy steps.

Here are Kevin P. McAuliffe’s color correction tutorials from CreativeCOW’s fantastic “Learn Avid’s Media Composer” series:

For those who shoot with flat or log profiles, how you control and portion the dynamic range of your image is absolutely crucial. Simply maximizing the dynamic range in any given shot can immediately give your images an incredible amount of depth and “punch”. Now that various scopes and waveform monitors are built into just about every NLE, this simple task should become habitual with all of your projects. However, while the lift, gamma, and gain controls are most useful for maximizing your dynamic range, they can also be a tremendous creative tool for shaping the tone of your image. Personally, I always maximize my dynamic range first, then play around with the gamma controls in order to push the image in one direction or another. This way, you can get dreamy “washed out” style images while still holding onto deeper black levels, and on the flip side, dark and high contrast images while still holding the highlights.

In McAuliffe’s second video, he shows you easy it is to correct the chrominance issues in your shots. While it’s always preferable to nail your color in camera, it’s not always possible due to time constraints or the limitations of various cameras. In these cases, it’s important to know how to quickly and efficiently solve these problems in your NLE or color grading software. One of the best tips he gives in this video is to use the black and white stripes on your slate as a reference point for your editor or colorist. It’s usually not as easy as it sounds to find a true black and a true white region of the actual image to use a reference, so defaulting to your slate can save you a tremendous amount of time and guesswork.

What do you guys think? What is your basic process for color correction? Do you have any other color correction tips for editors? Let us know in the comments.

Link: Learn Avid’s Media Composer – CreativeCOW


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  • Thank you so much!

    Finally somebody who posts Avid tutorials. It´s pretty damn hard to find any for free on the internet apart from Avid screencast.

    By the way. I ask myself a lot if Avid is still used as one of the main editing system in the USA. Because I rarely see it mentioned anywhere on american sites and here in Germany it is still used as one of the main NLEs

    Thanks Giora

    • I think it is. JJ Abraams “Bad Robot Productions” has a huge Avid workflow-facility going, and I get the feeling that most big American Hollywood and TV people must still use Avid. Final Cut and Premiere are dominating the lower mid and low-budget market I think that’s why you see them mentioned so often on American sites.

      But that’s conjecture and guesswork, and I hope some Americans will come and clear the issue.

      • Agreed. Many of the larger production facilities run Avid, and many of the lower end ones run Premiere or FCP (Corridor Digital, etc) and majority who run Vegas are either kids or hobbyists because of its low price (abundance of pirate copies and the fact that it is very ‘WYSIWYG’ like)

        I used Vegas for a while, then I moved to Premiere. I think that going from Vegas to Avid is a massive stepping stone because there are many concepts Avid has that Vegas doesn’t. I found Premiere a good half way in the mean while to learn about things more in-depth and maybe I might move to Avid later on.

        Avid still confuses the hell out of me, though.

    • Hi Giora, you can check here what films were edited on Avid.

    • Avid is still huge here in NYC and out in LA for anything that’s going to a tv or cinema. Even a lot of reality productions dumped FCP7 when X came out to go back to Avid – it’s been the standard foreeeeeever.

  • Thanks for the post Robert, it’s good to see new helpful Avid articles posted – it is the narrative feature film standard for offline editing after all.

  • Thanks, AVID lacks tutorials on a great many things compared to FCP and Premiere Pro.

    • That is because Avid editors rather keep their knowledge to themselves, so not every loser on the internet can learn their secret magic! Well, just kidding, but it is still a little bit true.

      However Avid is right now fighting against this image as a super expensive professional tool that only the initiated professionals can use. I mean their new software package pretty much rocks, a lot of bang for the buck.

      Don’t ask me though, I am not really an editor, I just know this from a friend who is a dedicated Avid editor and she is really happy about the new Avid.

  • Great tutorials! Even just a basic colour correction tute, you can apply this knowledge to any NLE.

  • Harry Pray IV on 04.22.13 @ 9:38PM

    I often wonder why the slate doesn’t have a more robust color chart attached to it. When I shoot, I try to make sure there’s at least a shot of an Xrite color checker passport if not a DSC Labs Chroma Du Monde at the head of setup (or possibly even at the head of every shot).

  • wow, that video looked like being from 2003

  • Nice tutorial!

    One minor thing though: in the first tutorial you dragging the cc effect onto timeline. Going into cc mode will automatically add the cc effect to your clip, so you can skip all the hassle of finding the cc effect and dragging it.

  • So he increased the contrast…

  • Frank Beach on 04.29.13 @ 9:23AM

    Bless you! Your technique is so much more effective and efficient than what I have been doing. Thank you.