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May 13 / Josh

Pre Color Correcting Interviews in Avid Symphony

The television shows that I typically work on contain numerous cast member, sit-down interviews. There can be several tapes with 20+ cast members. As you work on these shows, patterns start to repeat themselves. You begin to see a lot of the same interview tapes being used over and over.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered the “one to many” relationship rule. The rule states that one “entity” can be related to many other “entities.” In Avid terms, clips from one sequence can be related to clips of another sequence by clip name or source tape.

 

When I start a new show, I request that the assistant pull a 2 second sample from each interview clip from every cast member for the entire season. Those clips are cut into one long sequence and is organized by cast member. My job is to color correct each clip by “Source Clip Name” mode.* Once this is done, I have a base correction for every interview for the entire season.

 

Interview Sequence
When an episode is picture locked, I drag my interview sequence into the source window and go into color correction mode. I right click in the middle window (current) and select “Merge Correction.” Make sure the “Clip Name” checkbox is selected and click ok. All of the corrections are merged into the new sequence.
By making the investment of pre color correcting all of the interviews for the whole season, I make serious gains in time at the back end. However, what if your interview shots need more than what’s available in Symphony’s color correction tool? Perhaps you want to add a vignette or a spot color effect. The effects cannot be merged, but if you keep your corrections well organized, it will be possible to fly through them quickly.
My clips are usually named like this:
0222A01 INTV CA
The first part is the shot date and the camera. The second part denotes that this clip is an interview. The last part denotes the character. When adding multiple layers of corrections, I save the fx templates into the same bin as my interview sequence. For instance, the templates may be named like this:

 

0222A01-A03 INTV CA-1 src clip
0222A01-A03 INTV CA-2 spot
0222A01-A03 INTV CA-3 vignette

 

Then, I go to the top of the sequence and use the Find Text command (command or control + F) to find the first clip with “INTV” in it. Once it finds the first clip, I sift my interview bin for the tape and reel (i.e. 0222A) along with the character’s name. What is left in the bin are the effects needed to color correct that particular interview. From there, it’s as simple as finding the clip in the sequence with Find Text and using “Find Again” (command or control + G) to add the rest of the effects to the sequence.
The process would be a lot easier if vignettes, spot corrections, etc. were all built into color correction mode. I would ONLY need to merge my interview sequence. Here’s to hoping for that in Symphony 6.

 

 

* Before a sequence is up-resed, it has been decomposed. During the decompose process a “.new.01” is added to the clip name. The “Source Clip Name” color correction mode will reference everything before the “.new…” in the clip name. I tend to use this more than “Src Tape” mode because other interviewees sometimes creep into the same tape.

6 Comments

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  1. Steve Jones / May 17 2010

    I try to correct interviews by source clip also
    unfortunately i’m dealing with camera operators who
    like to “adjust things” several times during the course
    of any interview, or shoot several takes
    outside right before sunset so the light changes
    It must be nice to have consistancy like you have
    instead of constantly “chasing” camera adjustments
    i think all camera operators should be forced
    to sit in a color session of stuff they shot

  2. Josh / May 18 2010

    I, more than anyone, feel your pain.

    I try to make more of a habit of reaching out to DP’s before and after the material has been shot. Often, they are surprised by the footage. In my experience (with documentary style shows), the DP’s don’t want to come into post because they think we’re going to rail on them for making rookie mistakes.

    I see it as more of a collaboration. I want the DP’s to feel comfortable coming into the bay so together we can make the best images possible, now and in the future. They usually aren’t being paid for sitting in on post sessions, but if they really value their work, they’ll show up. And, chances are, if they like how good you can make them look, they’ll recommend you for future jobs.

  3. Amy / Jun 5 2010

    I try to correct interviews by source clip also
    unfortunately i’m dealing with camera operators who
    like to “adjust things” several times during the course
    of any interview, or shoot several takes
    outside right before sunset so the light changes
    It must be nice to have consistancy like you have
    instead of constantly “chasing” camera adjustments
    i think all camera operators should be forced
    to sit in a color session of stuff they shot

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