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I had the previous ColorChecker from X-rite which was for photography, but still worked great for video. I was pretty excited when I saw that the company had come out with a specific video model and was very keen to get one and try it out.
I should take a step back and explain what the ColorChecker is and why it’s so useful. It’s a chart that has black, white and grey scale on one side and colours on the other side. It has a third fold out that you can use as a focus target.
The model that I got to test is the smaller more portable one. It’s about the size of three credit cards lined up next to each other and could easily fit into a back pocket. It’s made out of hard plastic and so isn’t going to get bent or damaged in a bag.
As part of being a trainer, I get to see footage from a lot of different cameras. In a perfect world on a multi camera shoot, I should be shooting with multiples of the same camera. That doesn’t always happen. For a while before I settled on Sony, I was shooting interviews with Sony, Panasonic, BlackMagic and sometimes Canon and Nikon thrown in for good measure. Even manually setting the same white balance on all the cameras what I would get in post would be different colour casts from all those different cameras.
X-Rite and Color Finale
The ColorChecker is a great way to match those up quickly and same me a ton of time getting the footage from all those cameras to look even remotely similar.
All you do is make sure your camera point at the ColorChecker when you start shooting and as long as your lighting doesn’t change in your scene it’s going to be pretty easy to match them up in post.
So what is better about this new video model compared to the previous one? The previous one was and still is designed for photography and was only supported in DaVinci Resolve. This new one is supported by the Color Finale plugin for FCPX, which is great because I don’t have to go out of my NLE in order to use it.
Ironically this new one is not yet supported in DaVinci, but support is coming soon. In FCPX it couldn’t be easier. Apply the Color Finale plugin to the clip and then select show chart. You click the four points around the colours on the ColorChecker, line the colours up, click match and that’s it.
Color Finale Applied
In my testing I found it worked really in matching up the clips shot in various different colour tones.
Keep in mind this only really works if the lighting and colour of your scene isn’t changing too much. So if you’re filming a shot from indoors to outdoors, you’d need to stop and get a shot with the ColourChecker again when you went outside. I’d say it’s a must for interview situations and can still be very useful for run and gun as long as your not running and gunning into dramatic lighting changes.
So who would I recommend the ColorChecker to? Everyone! I was on a shoot with an old friend of mine the other day and he reminded me of an old film production saying, “An hour on set is four hours in post”. Which is to say that for every shortcut you take on set, you’re giving yourself loads more work to do in post. So the 45 seconds it takes to hold the ColorChecker in front of your cameras once you start rolling, could save you hours of trying to get the shots to match later in post.