July 23, 2013

Premiere Pro Tutorial: Learn to Read Scopes with Larry Jordan

Color correction can be a real drag, especially if a good portion of your shots are improperly exposed or color balanced poorly. Trying to correct them by eye, while not entirely impossible, is not only an incredibly tedious and time-consuming process, but it's easily the most impractical way to go about the task of color correction. On the other hand, through learning to quickly decipher the luminance and chrominance information in your shots with a quick glance at your scopes, you can take your color correction skills to the next level. Here's an in-depth video from Larry Jordan in which he discusses what scopes are and how to read them:

Jordan breaks this webinar excerpt down into an analysis of the three main scopes that are used to perform color correction: the waveform, vectroscope, and RGB parade. Here's a quick breakdown of the three major scopes and what they do:

  • Waveform: Displays luminance or gray-scale values on a vertical scale from 0 to 100, where 0 is pure black and 100 is pure white. 50 is middle gray.
  • Vectroscope: Displays the chrominance or color values of the image in a circular "color wheel" fashion, where the angle within the circle represents the hue and the distance from the center represents saturation.
  • RGB Parade: Displays the balance between red, green, and blue values on an identical "waveform" 0-100 scale.

Reading these various scopes is like anything else; it takes practice and persistence. When I first discovered how useful scopes could be, I spent hours playing around with various footage of mine, applying and adjusting basic color correction effects like the "Three Way Color Corrector" and the "Luma Corrector" and making note of how these changes affected what I was seeing in the scopes. Little experiments like this can help you familiarize yourself with the functionality of scopes in no time at all.

What do you guys think? Do you rely on video-scopes for your color correction work? Do you have any tips for first time users? Let us know in the comments!

Link: Read Scopes in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 -- YouTube

Your Comment

29 Comments

Great article. I have heard though that color correcting in premiere is not a good idea, that a dedicated correction prog like AFX is better. Can anyone refute or support that?

It sure would be handy to grade in premiere as jumping a project between afx and premiere can be a pain.

July 23, 2013 at 1:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Liron

After Effects is dedicated motion software, not Color Correction. SpeedGrade is Adobe's Color Correction application.

July 23, 2013 at 1:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

Try the magic bullet looks plugin. That's probably good enough for most people.

July 23, 2013 at 2:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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moebius22

I would also recommend the Color Correction Handbook: Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema by Alexis Van Hurkman.

July 23, 2013 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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moebius22

I second this book--I'm halfway through it and there's definitely a rich pool of knowledge and experience here from Mr. Hurkman. https://vimeo.com/samuelneff

July 23, 2013 at 7:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Samuel N

I second this book--I'm halfway through it and there's definitely a rich pool of knowledge and experience here from Mr. Hurkman.

July 23, 2013 at 7:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Depends who you talk to. I've found using Colorista II and Looks within Premiere CS6 is more than sufficient for most of my color correction/colorgrading needs.

July 23, 2013 at 2:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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My bad, I mean to say Colorista II (I keep mixing the names up);)

July 23, 2013 at 2:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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moebius22

Actually, I think you get the best overall results when you use the two in tandem :-)

July 23, 2013 at 3:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I've been gradually improving my colour correction skills and over time and have come to rely on scopes as I gradually understood how they worked. That said my first instinct was also that After Effects would be a better choice for colour correction and while I find the interface more responsive to subtle adjustments when using Colorista 2, there are no scopes bundled natively with After Effects while there is in Premiere.
You can find scopes in the form of plugins for AE such as Scopo Gigio but it's not free.
Bottom line, a straight forward workflow that doen't involve bouncing back and forth between programs is Premiere and Colorista2. It has some limitations when it comes to more intricate adjustments such as creating a key but for basic colour correction and grading its simple and reliable.

July 23, 2013 at 4:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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You can get scopes in After Effects using the color fines plug-in that comes with the software.

July 23, 2013 at 5:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jerome (also..b...

Oh that's right. However from what I remember of Colour Finesse, it launches in a separate interface/application in the same way that Mocha does meaning that you have access to the scopes only when using Color Finesse?

July 23, 2013 at 9:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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yeah thats right. but if you are just doing grading or color correction work you really don't need anything else but color fines open.

July 23, 2013 at 10:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jerome (also..b...

After Effects is not better for color correction...it has issues working in 32-bit floating point space, whereas Premiere natively runs in 32-bit FP (I'm pretty sure Premiere's quite a bit faster too). Also as was mentioned, After Effects doesn't have any scopes, whereas Premiere does. And of course After Effects is much clunkier when trying to work with an entire edit since After Effects is designed to work on single effects shots, not entire edits.

July 23, 2013 at 5:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gabe

Got to agree with you. I went back to colour correcting in Premiere for this reason.

July 24, 2013 at 8:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Premiere has many more colour plugins than After Effects, and as stated, scopes/waveforms. The Three Way Colour Corrector in CS6 is extremely powerful, and it comes bundled with the application (it pretty much is Colorista II, but with playback acceleration). The only thing AE has over Premiere is masking, which can be added just by linking your clip to AE.

July 24, 2013 at 1:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ok

You can do masking in Premiere using track mattes, garbage mattes and blurring, though it's somewhat fiddly. Also you can do vignettes with the Circle effect.

July 24, 2013 at 10:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Graham Kay

Thanks, I'll try this stuff out!

July 24, 2013 at 11:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ok

also while this video might have been useful to some it ultimately was just a commercial. I'd expect nofilmschool to not post things like that especially when there are complete free tutorials out there that are much better...

July 23, 2013 at 10:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jerome (also..b...

+1

July 23, 2013 at 11:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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sam

+1

July 24, 2013 at 8:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghox

Larry is the best. Isn't everything a commercial? Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

July 24, 2013 at 12:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Good saying, but not aplicable here.

July 24, 2013 at 7:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghoxfr

Perfect saying if the video is the horse and the commercial is the mouth.

July 27, 2013 at 2:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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J

Resolve!

July 24, 2013 at 12:07AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Just started using adobe's speedgrade and it took me a little while to appreciate how great it is but I'm really liking it now. I'd been using colorista II, color finesse in after effects and dabbled with resolve. But the integration between speedgrade and premiere makes it my favorite. Also, I use a track ball and speedgrade lets you use your trackball like a trackball on a color grading interface (resolve doesn't seem to let me do that.)

What I do is export a clip from premiere to speedgrade. grade the clip in speedgrade, then save the look, then apply a lumetri preset to my clip in premiere, then load the look I made in speedgrade, then copy and paste that look on to all my other clips with the same color. I'm getting much more subtle grades than I was getting from looks or colorista.

it's going to be great with the black magic pocket camera since you really get to play with the look there a lot more than the dslr's I've been shooting with that bake in 80% of the look.

July 25, 2013 at 7:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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As a Premiere guy who is still learning some video basics I found this tutorial extremely useful. Some have complained that since this was an abridged version of a full tutorial, it should not have been shared on nofilmschool. I have to disagree. A freemium model that gives away this quantity of information in such high quality content is something worth celebrating. I have watched a half-dozen or so free tutorials on scopes, and this was by far the most clear and concise demonstration. Thanks NFS!

July 25, 2013 at 12:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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nomadic_myke

I agree. There were some really good tips and ideas in this free 20 minute preview that I haven't seen before. Keep them coming!

July 25, 2013 at 6:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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csimons

This video is spot on and is exactly what I learned during our broadcast operations course at school I use these exact same techniques, but I prefer to use Resolve since it is node based and uses the Nvidia GPU more efficiently and to its full capacity.

July 25, 2013 at 10:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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drflower