Archive for March 27th, 2008

Skin color in a blue world

ProLost, the author of the DV Rebel Guide, wrote After Effects and FCS tutorials on how to preserve natural skin tones when the rest of the scene has an extreme blue color grading. This blue tint color is what’s in fashion lately for movies. Yes, there is color fashion for films too, which is one of the reasons movies from 10 years ago look different than today’s films.

So, I am providing below a way to get the same look, using Sony Vegas. Because I like my tutorials to be accessible also to users that don’t have the Pro version of Vegas, I will not use the “Color Corrector Secondary” plugin, which is the normal way of doing these kinds of things. Another thing to remember is that each scene is different and it requires changes on the values of the plugins. You can’t just copy/paste the values throughout a film and expect to have a constantly good-looking image.

1. Download, install and load Aav6cc to your timeline clip (free download. On Vista you might have to install it as “Run as Administrator”).
On it put the saturations of Red, Blue, Cyan to 80. All other colors’ saturation to -90. Cyan’s Hue to -16. Lightness of Blue and Cyan on -64.

2. Load the “Color Corrector” plugin on your clip (not “Secondary”, comes with Vegas).
All three Angles to 315. All three Magnitudes to 0.330. Saturation 1.000, Gamma 0.900.

The above settings had the following results, but as I said, you need the right moody footage and the right modified settings each time to get this working for all your clips.

Picture by chaparral, licensed under the CC-BY.

Picture by romainguy, licensed under the CC-BY-SA.

Update: Wow, what a small world this is! So I made a search on FlickR for CC-BY pictures of “rainy days” for the purpose of this tutorial, and I decided to use the above one from “romainguy”. Ten minutes later my husband said “Romain takes nice pictures, I will have to talk to him about photography”. And I replied sarcastically “why, you know him? :P”. And he said “yes, he sits three cubes down from my desk at Google!”. Holy crap.

Update 2: If you have Magic Bullet installed, load the Aav6cc plugin and modify the saturation of Red to 90, Yellow to 50. And then use the Magic Bullet template “Berlin”, but change its “Do post: contrast” to 20.

My village

I’ve talked many times on my blog about the mountainous village I am coming from, Skiadas. A friend, who originates from the same village too (and currently lives in Athens), sent me a URL with a picture of the village. My parent’s home is not visible in the photo though, as it’s on the left side (only half of the village is shown in the pic). I lived less than 6 years there, ages 2-4 & 9-12, but it’s what I consider “home” (I was born in Athens, then moved to the nearby city Preveza, and later we stayed for good in Louros, a nearby town). When I close my eyes at night, that’s the only place I find myself into.

My favorite times there were during Easter. So many people would come back to the village from the surrounding cities, Athens or even Germany. For at least a week the village would be buzzing with 400 people who came back to their birthplace for the biggest celebration of Orthodoxy. Everyone knew everyone too, so there was not much you could do to escape the social requirements of being presentable and well groomed at all times.

And at the Easter night, at 12 AM, either at the Saint Paraskevi or Saint Christopher church, the mass would take place and the whole village would be there. All 400+ of them (not all fit inside the church). The lights would go off, and the priest would share his candle flame with someone, and the flame would spread among the crowd. Soon, the only light available would be candle light. Some people would use fireworks in the later times, but originally in my village some men would usually used their guns to shoot towards the sky (hehe…).

Then, we would go home and feast on either fried, or as a soup, lamb/goat intestines (the animal was given to us from my uncle, as in my own family we never herded big animals as my father is a house builder instead). I preferred them fried personally, with home-made fries (potatoes usually from our garden, stored from the previous year). And that felt as an amazing food, as we had to fast for at least a week before Easter (a strict vegan diet, while on Good Friday we were not allowed to eat anything oily either — some people would fast like this for 40 days, e.g. both my grandmothers).

And the next day, what a feast with our extended family! Greek easter lamb (or goat). Best. Food. Ever. Food coma for the rest of the day. And many bathroom visits too.

But the day after Easter, the village population would go down to about 100 people again, and today, only about 35 people live there. Since most inhabitants left the village at around 1990, the school was abandoned, and none of the six churches have a mass anymore as there is no priest to fill in. An abandoned village, just like so many others in the Epirus region. Mass migration to big cities to seek better employment and a better life. Life at these villages is hard in the winter…

I miss my hens though. 🙁