Our ordinary cameras output 8-bit videos, as we all know, but our cameras are not 8-bit cameras. They are 12, 14-bit etc.
What happens is that the processor has an algorithm to convert that higher bit information that the sensor generates into an 8-bit video.
I've been reading about that algorithm and I realized that it is at the same time very smart and very dumb.
It is smart because it can compress a lot of information from the source into the 8-bit video, but its not smart enough to output a video natively with all that information.
There are 2 ways to expand the amount of information (dynamic range, color, details etc) in your video. One is to shoot using a flat profile, compressing the dynamic range as much as possible to make the life of the algorithm easier. The other way is to expand that compressed information in post processing.
* Note that even "cooked" videos (no flat profile) have a lot of hidden information.
There are lots of ways in post to recover that info. You can convert your video into a better format, play with curves, use layers, masks etc.
To make my life easier im developing a plugin to make all of that in a easier way. Its a 32-bit plugin that works with sliders. Its not a revolutionaty tool, since it uses existing technology (Adobe based), but it has my own fine-tune and it makes most things automatically.
- Automatically breaks the video into highlights, midtones and shadows
- That way you can work with them separately. Its a pain in the ass when you recover the highlights and crush the shadows, or when you pump up the shadows and blow out the highlights. And its even worse when you pump up the shadows and recover the highlights and crush the midtones. In that option you can work with the 3 without having to worry about messing with the other. That way you will increase the visible dynamic range of your video without having to convert, use masks, layers etc
- Recovering highlights- You can recover easily up to 10% of the blown out highlights with no degradation or artifacts.- Increasing the midtone color density/information- Specially good in shots with a lot of texture, like rocks, skins etc. Most camcorders output videos where the skin looks like a color blob. Using that you recover a lot of details and more color gradation.- Pumping the shadows- Very limited tool. You can recover details from the shadows. I dont recommend recovering too much, since it brings up noise. I rather overexpose a little bit than underexpose. Its easier to recover 10% of the highlights than 10% of the shadows.- Sharpening- Custom tool for sharpening. It actually uses Premiere Pro technology, but with my pre-sets and fine tune, reducing artifacts.
Here you can watch a video sample I made with that plugin. Note that its still in alpha phase. The hole video was shot with the Sony GW77.
Besides using the plugin I added film grain - because I like it and it makes the video more organic
I dont like too much sharpening, but in this video I used 50% of sharpening just to use as an example. Especially because a lot of guys are saying that the GW77 outputs soft videos. There is a difference between sharpness and detail, and they dont understand that.
At the end of the video you can see some before and after videos using the plugin
I dont have a premium account on vimeo, so I had to compress the video. It has low bitrates and its 720p. The original holds basically the same image quality of the original AVCHD