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Recovering hidden information in your 8-bit videos - Increasing the Dynamic Range, Color...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
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.

Plugin Features:

- 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 biggrin.gif 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

Edited by thedest - 8/11/13 at 8:27am
post #2 of 9
How does the plugin work? What NLEs? does it plug into?
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
The idea was to make that plugin only for me - to optimize my time when editing. Its actually a plugin that uses Premiere Pro's engine. Since im getting nice results in a really small time, I decided to share. It has been tested only in Premiere Pro CS6.
post #4 of 9
Yes, you have shown with that video you can take video clips and make them look completely artificial. smile.gif Some like that.

But I did not see any "improvements", I saw interesting creative expression of what looked like well-composed images. That's fun, and adds a dimension to video, but it ain't "better" than the original clips, just different.

I have had some fun recently taking the completely flat, dull, colorless, soft original videos from the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera *I downloaded* and using Vegas Pro to make them look - well, actually real. Since the original clip was very high bitrate, mildly compressed and 4:2:2, the resulting edited video looked great. Close to video darkroom working with RAW.
Edited by markr041 - 8/12/13 at 8:31am
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
lol... you are a funny grumpy guy mark biggrin.gif

you probably got confused with the color grade I made. I know its heavy post-work, but I really liked that look

maybe the new video will help your tired eyes biggrin.gif


in that video the only thing used was the plugin, with no fine tune. its recommended to do some corrections in saturation, local contrast etc to get even better results, since sometimes you bring too much color info

*can you point me to the link of the black magic video? I would like to test it in the plugin
post #6 of 9
Here is the link to the clips:


The interesting one is that with the jazz singer (it's also the longest, not the drummer). How about we compare what you do to that with what I did: I aimed to make it look real (though there is colored lighting). You do what you want.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
it will be a great exercise mark! I'll try to post something tomorrow. my girlfriend is coming home tonight, so no time to play today biggrin.gif
post #8 of 9
Here are frame grabs from the out of camera flat clip from the BlackMagic Pocket Camera and then the color- and sharpness-corrected version using Vegas Pro:

This is a live club scene with red colored and blue colored as well as white lights - with red shining on the foreground bassist. Both grabs are from MP4 versions of the original Pro Res file, with the first undergoing no corrections.
Edited by markr041 - 8/12/13 at 5:14pm
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
That video is the least challenging of the bunch. Why dont we process all of them? Im specially interested on the videos with exposure challenges.
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