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Tutorial: Making Fast and Simple Color Adjustments in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5
Posted Feb 2, 2012 Print Version     « previous Page 4of 5 next »

Adjusting Brightness Using Input Levels

When adjusting the Brightness in this image, our sole goal is to boost the clump of pixels called out in Figure 3 to above the 60 line. Still working in the Fast Color Corrector, the tool we’re going to use the Input Levels (Figure 7, below). Moving the marker at the left edge of the Input Levels slider adjusts the black values, the darkest pixels in the image; moving the marker at the right edge adjusts the whitest pixels; and moving the marker in the middle of the slider makes adjustments in the midtone region.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 7. The Input Levels slider in the Fast Color Corrector

As you drag the midtones slider to the right you’ll increase primarily the pixels in the brighter regions. In this example, we’ll see the clump of pixels associated with my face (as highlighted in Figure 3) rise to well over 60, into the 70 range, which is a good value. If we look at the splitscreen view again, we’ll see a clearer split between the corrected and uncorrected versions.

Now we’ve got the values where we want them. The blacks are still up around zero so there should be very little fading, and we’ve boosted the whites a bit closer to 100 IRE. The face still looks a little bit washed out and, as we talked about up front, sometimes you want to boost the Color Saturation to correct for that.

I’m wearing a blue shirt and where we started at 100, you really can’t tell what color it is. If we bring the Color Saturation up to 150 you get a nice balance of facial color and blueness in the shirt (Figure 8, below). I probably went a little bit too far to prove my point but compared to where we started, we’ve got much more contrast in the video, we’ve got a brighter face that will withstand compression a lot more effectively, and we’ve got correct colors. So at this point I would probably call this edit done and just move on to my next edit in this project.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Figure 8. Moving the Color Saturation up to 150 brings out the blue in my shirt.

Making Color Adjustments in Final Cut Pro 7

Now if you’ve been working in Final Cut Pro, all of this should look pretty familiar. In FCP 7, your Waveform monitor is on the right. You adjust colors the same way using the familiar color wheel on the left (Figure 9, below). You boost brightness in the midtones the same way and you adjust saturation the same way.

Apple Final Cut Pro 7

Figure 9. Making color adjustments in Final Cut Pro 7

Correcting Color in Final Cut Pro X

On the other hand, if you’re transitioning from Final Cut Pro 7 to Final Cut Pro X, you’ll find the tools pretty foreign (Figure 10, below). You’ve got a cramped waveform here that’s kind of psychedelic and a color board instead of a color wheel. Saturation and brightness adjustments are pretty straightforward, though it’s hard to argue that placing all these controls on four separate screens is a huge step forward in interface design.

Apple Final Cut Pro X

Figure 10. Color adjustment controls in Final Cut Pro X

A Familiar Color Correction Paradigm

So that’s it. Premiere Pro makes it fast and simple to adjust the color and brightness of your clips so that they look great after compression and if you’re coming over from Final Cut Pro 7, Premiere Pro uses tools and an interface paradigm that should look instantly familiar.

Next time out we’ll explore how to produce multiple video files for adaptive streaming in the Adobe Media Encoder.

To see more tutorials in our Adobe Production Premium CS5.5 series, go to Page 5 of this article.

Jan Ozer (jan at doceo.com) is a frequent contributor to industry magazines and websites on digital video-related topics. He is chief instructor at StreamingLearningCenter.com and the author of Video Compression for Flash, Apple Devices and HTML5.

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