A few months ago i gave a presentation to a group of Photographers and had the trickiest question. The photographer wanted to know, how he could take a picture in camera as a JPG but with an inbuilt colour look or colour simulation applied. For example, take a series of JPG’s with a sepia tone, or high colour saturation applied, then take this look and apply it to other images. As mentioned on the day the colour is baked into the JPG file and isn’t available for extraction, so other than creating the look manually by visually matching the tones, it’s going to be tricky to get right and most likely very time consuming. Then a few weeks ago some one asked the same question, but this time from a printed picture/image, one that was maybe taken with a DSLR or smart phone….surely that has to be something out of science fiction!!!
I decided to explore this question and try to find a good answer.
Firstly, I looked into Photoshop CC and the Match Color command under the Image/Adjustments /Match Color.
You can see from the above image that it doesn’t do a bad job of matching the right image to the left image, however, this method does have it’s drawbacks. the look isn’t transferable to another image (or the difference), it is a destructive edit and can’t be done on a layer (so not editable at any time). Maybe there is a new way with better fidelity and a better workflow.
I install Speedgrade CC as part of my Creative Cloud subscription and start to explore the new “Match Shot” feature.
What is Match Shot traditional used for :
When people make a movie they typically shoot on different cameras and ultimately end up with completely different looking footage, i.e. shooting on a Red Epic will look different to a Canon C300 and and will look different to an ARRI. This is a huge issue for post houses and typically need to matched by eye or use some complex software or even write code to do it. The clever SpeedgradeCC engineers have worked their magic and now enabled this inside SpeedGrade and must admit it makes it really easy (Watch the videos in this post to see how it’s done). The other element that these guys brought to the table was to add the support for an image file and it’s colour look to be included as a shot match reference. In this scenario you can take a frame from the film, work with the client in Photoshop CC and get the look exactly how they want it (using traditional Levels, Curves, Colour Balance etc), then bring this image into Speedgrade CC and match the film to the picture, pretty powerful stuff and saving huge amounts of time.
But where does this leave the issue of the stills world, how powerful is this feature.
There are many scenarios that come to mind:
- Video to Video – Proven and works extremely well
- Still to Still (JPG -> JPG etc)
- Video clip to Still image
- Camera to Camera (i.e. Fuji X-Pro 1 to Canon 7D)
- Camera Phone to DSLR
- Art work to Still (Art work could be a painting, poster, graphics, screen grab etc)
- Real World Objects to Still
Let us take Speedgrade CC down a few of these options and see what comes out, the only thing to say is that upon opening Speedgrade CC for the first time does look like a console of the space shuttle endeavour (but it’s not that hard, honestly)!
Let us take the Video to Video option as well as a quick how to (This post unfortunately won’t teach you how to use Speedgrade CC, only to this one feature).
Here are two videos and I would like to make the right hand sequence look like the left hand one.
The ones that we will focus on are the .look, .cube and 3DL files. Click on the Export button and place the file somewhere (it will be a zip file), you will need to unzip the zip file before progressing to the next step, and bringing the look into Photoshop CC or CS6.
Open the clip in Photoshop, it should be displayed on the screen with an associated time line, as well as the video in the layers palette.
Photoshop makes it really easy to apply the colour .look file.
Select menu item Layer / New Adjustment Layer / Color Lookup and press OK. Once chosen navigate to the properties panel, and you will see 3DLUT File, clock on “Load 3D Lut”, then click on “Load 3D LUT in the next panel.
Find either the .look, .3dl or the .cube file that was exported from Speedgrade CC. You should see the video looks the same as the source clip that we used earlier in this post. At which point it wil behave just like a normal Photoshop layer (why not try a blending mode for something different!).
you can see the final video with both clips below (the flat version was the right hand side)
Watch the above example how to video below
Matching Video to a Photoshop still image
The next logical step is to grade a piece of video against a JPG file that was created in Photoshop CC/CS6. For this we will apply levels and curves to a still file in Photoshop CC and save as a JPG file, then take this into Speedgrade CC and grade the same flat video to the Photoshop adjustment.
Image to Image matching
How about we then take this one stage further and work on still images and tackle the original problem.
All video was assembled using Photoshop CC.
This post is a bit more complex and i have tried to be as accurate as i can, if you find an error in the text please drop me a comment. Also, if you find this post was useful, then please drop me a message.
Without the support of the following people this post would not have been possible
Glyn Dewis (Photographer / Retoucher and Trainer), Glyn can be found here.