Archive for August 21st, 2007

Achieving the CSI:Miami look

“CSI:Miami” is not a super cop TV series, but it’s definitely the most good-looking one. It looks fabulous in HD. Online, there are a number of videographers who have expressed the question as to how this look is achieved. And the answer is that it is done via various ways:

1. Apply a warm look in-camera (if supported).
2. Apply saturation in-camera (if supported).
3. Saturate and boost gamma in post.
4. Boost contrast in post. (example: 1)
5. Use gradient filters while shooting (example: 1, 2).
6. Boost primarily the orange and yellow colors and use similarly colored lights to shoot: (example: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
7. For indoors scenes, always use a well-lit colored pattern as a background that you can later boost its colors in post.
8. Use a 35mm adapter if available for your camera, and the appropriate lens each time. You need a large sensor.
9. Shoot in 1/48th shutter speed and 24fps. If your camera has a “cine mode” like the Canon HV20 does, use that.
10. Selectively boost colors in post depending on the scene (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Navigate the episodes here and check the indoor scenes. You will notice that the vast majority of them have specific pattern backgrounds that are lit from the floor with big lights. Then, the pattern color(s) (which they make sure that the actors don’t wear clothes with the same colors) are boosted in post.

Because lighting is one of the most mysterious arts in film making and because most people can’t afford these lights, this tutorial will show how to achieve a similar look for your outdoor scenes. You will need Sony Vegas to follow the small guide.

0. When appropriate, shoot with a gradient orange-sun filter.
1. Boost contrast by 15 to 20% depending on the scene (filter: “brightness and contrast”).
2. Boost saturation 20% and gamma 30%, tint the highlights knob towards “yellow” (filter: color correction).
3. Download the free Aav6cc filter and install it. In it, boost the yellow color (you can increase/decrease lightness of that color depending on the scene).
4. Using the Aav6cc filter again, increase the rest of the colors if they are predominant in the scene. E.g. boost blue for sea/sky shots and decrease or increase its lightness depending on the scene. Do the same for the other colors but with less intensity compared to the primary color(s).
5. Vegas Movie Studio comes with some NewBlue filters. Use the “Dream Glow” to give your scene a somewhat soft look if you shot it on video without cinemode. Settings: Blur: 10, Glow: 20.

Here’s my 720/30p video (62 MBs) with before and after live shots. And here’s another video of mine, put to practice (HD version available here):

And another one of mine (HD version available here):