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Articulating What's Wrong With These Skintones


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Grabbed a sample off somebody to just grade for fun (shot on URSA mini 4.6K) and was tweaking it around for a while however could just not get the skin tones to look the least bit appealing.
daniels-fat-friend-1-1-1.png

The skin tones look so plastic but I am trying to figure out if there is a sole method for articulation beyond "camera has bad skin tones".
Is it because his skin is too oily? Does the sensor fumble something in particular that RED or Arri would get right? I've shot faces cast in shadow before but they didn't look this artificial.

Additionally, what methods do you use to fix skin tones that look this shiny and plastic?

Thanks to all for any input.

Edited by Max Field
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The shine on the face may be for real, not an artifact, but there might be some sort of poor conversion going on, the highlights look like they are color-clipping. I'd first go back to the log or raw original and try different LUTs to create the Rec.709 version. Look at both the red in his cheeks and then the red reflections on the red car in the background, it reminds me of the old Knee Saturation function in Sony camcorders when combined with Auto Knee.

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I think the problem is likely that Yankees hat.

But seriously - the overall image (at least on my iMac, not looking at it with scopes) feels a bit too green. I'm not talking about the grass, which does feel a bit oversaturated, but there is a very slight green cast, which can really make skin tones look funky. The highlights look ok, so in a lift/gamma/gain window in Resolve, I'd pull the gamma a bit away from the green to see if that helps. 

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Ask if the footage already has a LUT applied to it before you got it.

To me, it looks like you are trying to grade over a film LUT as source footage. 

The RGB Primaries appear to be strong and saturated with muted Secondaries.  The whole balance is leaning toward red/green but not in a unitary fashion;  the secondaries are not following in a neutral fashion.

If you could grab a screen shot of your Vectorscope with the RGB trace overlaid and the skin tone indicator enabled, it might give more clues.

(basically, what David said. Get the raw footage if possible. It's early, I haven't had enough coffee yet, I didn't read all the responses and i'm old... excuse, excuse...)

Edited by Frank Wylie
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Sometimes stuff will start to look like that when you "push it too hard" in the color grade. Like if I saw this footage in something, I would assume they were trying to grade H.264 files. Like David said, something is getting getting clipped or something at some point in the chain. 

Are you working with the original Prores files? 

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1 hour ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Don't know if this improves things much -- I noticed that when I post this, the colors shift compared to how it looks in Lightroom. I pulled a lot of saturation out of his white shirt just to keep it neutral.

756655233_Screenshot2023-07-12at12_14.37PM-3.thumb.jpg.79b805fcc47961544d978800b07f6d3d.jpg

Perhaps documentation and camera tests of the URSA 4.6K were throwing me off or trying to get me to push the image due to expectations I have for skin tones after working with better cameras. Last week I was watching an URSA 4.6K versus Amira test and the URSA seriously lost the skin tone battle where everything had these white-ish hotspots and ugly reflections. In this new treatment you have posted I am okay with the shine on the screen-left part of the face, however something in the more shaded part of the cheeks feels off.

Here is a link to the video I am referencing:

 

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ARRI color science is very good, particularly to how they handle roll-off into overexposure. They tend to reduce saturation as things get hotter to mimic film better but also avoid ugly color channel clipping artifacts. But then, they also have a lot of headroom to play with.

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It may be interesting to change those blue-ish green lawns to something that looks more natural. Since green and red are complimentary colours, the green might affect the way you perceive the red tones.

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  • 3 weeks later...

daniels.thumb.jpg.d4ed3ebfc9f0cf4bc3c1ae7b664b423f.jpgDefinitely, if the person is standing next to foliage, it can give a green colour cast on the skin which requires magenta tint compensation either in-camera or in post. Also, you can try using a polarizer filter during shooting to reduce hotspots and reflections on the face (but a proper make-up is still better, if possible).

In grading, I would never key out skintones and would instead rely on proper colour management (like working scene-referred in Resolve), while balancing the shot for the skin. The standard Rec.709 conversion IMHO does not look good even with Alexa though, with low contrast and garish colours (especially noticeable with greenish and oversaturated skin and green grass and trees). Many professional colourists prefer to use some kind of print film emulation and subtractive saturation to get more pleasing results, however some shots can be difficult to fix in post without some masking. Perhaps a big negative fill while shooting would help with boosting contrast and taking away some foliage reflections?

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