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Reproducing Rainbows: Color in the Digital Environment

COW Library : RED Camera : David Battistella : Reproducing Rainbows: Color in the Digital Environment
CreativeCOW presents Reproducing Rainbows: Color in the Digital Environment -- RED Camera Editorial


director, editor, www.davidbattistella.com
Toronto Ontario Canada
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Reproducing Rainbows:

Color in the Digital Environment

Are you a photographer?

Are you a Director of Photography?

If you answered yes to either of these questions then you are in the business of Color. (I'll use the American spelling of color throughout this article).

Often we say that color is subjective, that it affects moods and tones, and we can even try to suggest that we see colors exactly as other people do, but this is not always the case.

In our professional life as photographers, designers, cinematographers and filmmakers, there exists a need to be able to agree on color. To do this we need a point of reference, we need to have a series of colors laid out, in a consistent fashion to be able to determine what color is what, and so assign a name a value to a representation of color. In the business of creating images, color is critical. Let's take a moment just to realize that color imaging (while it has appeared in painting and other forms) has not been part of the modern "photographic" landscape for very long.

The first color images were created less than one-hundred years ago, and the first color motion films are also a relatively new concept. Initially with film, eventually with television and now with CCD's, CMOS sensors and digital imaging devices, computer screens, LCD panels, printed paper, modern film and transparency technologies, color has never been so important for the professional imager. It's imperative to begin with the intended colors before the images are redisplayed in all of these other media.

With Digital technology and differing mediums, color across platforms is more important now than it has ever been. The RED CamBook from DSC Labs addresses this. RED is a digital equivalent to film and I mean this in the sense that, like motion picture film, the quality of the frames being recorded can go across many platforms.


Click on image for larger view
Click on image for larger view.


Digital photography and cinematography is reaching further into the digital media landscape. The images you capture with a digital RAW workflow can be and are used quite easily in anything from motion picture film release, HD broadcast, standard definition, web, print, magazine or billboard. We can agree that this is a wide ranging spectrum of potential media.

It also means that the end consumers will be viewing the same image from paper, projected film, projected video, LCD, PLASMA screen and a variety of color and gamma ranges throughout the vast digital media landscape.

Imagine trying to get a consistent hue of green or blue or teal across all of these platforms. Add to this that every set-up has a slight variation in color temperature and tint. All of these scenes need to first be brought into a "look" for a specific scene and then a specific program altogether.

So, it becomes easy to understand why it's important to have a color reference chart for each new scenes' lighting conditions. All of the formats carry specific gamma and color spaces to reproduce color. The chart is the point of agreement.



Comments

Re: Reproducing Rainbows: Color in the Digital Environment
by Jeff Brown
For straightforward white balance and color reference, a reliable and modestly priced option is the Greytag Macbetch color chart. Used by film and print professionals for decades. It is matte, but I would not set black level off a chart, personally. Off a black velvet square, perhaps.


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