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DIY MacBeth Chart

>Published : 17th August 2006

>Is there any good reason why I should buy an $80MacBeth chart rather than print my own at Kinko's?

>The official chart is more durable and has higher quality colour density but if just using the colours as reference, why pay $80 when I can pay $6?

>It makes sense to me if the colours specifically relate to calibration settings within an NLE or colour correct systems, but I have yet to find anyone who can confirm this. MacBeth does make a more expensive system that combines one of their charts with software, but I'm talking about the basic chart we all know and love.

>DCS makes charts whose colour chips are specifically designed to fall within the targets of a vectorscope. As far as I've been able to find out, the MacBeth chart is not specific as such.

>Right now, my biggest motivation for buying an official MacBeth chart is so clients don't frown upon me for busting out my Kinko's special.

>Dan Coplan


>Dan Coplan writes :

class="style11">>Is there any good reason why I should buy an $80MacBeth chart rather >than print my own at Kinko's

>The biggest reason for buying and using any chart is NOT for its colour "correct" patches but for the neutrally of the grey scale. No common colour printer available at a Kinko type store will produce prints with a neutral grey scale. You do not use a chart on set to set up specific colours. If you do you did not do the right prep. Or do it in post where it can be properly seen and monitored.

>Also depending on the type of paper and printer used and the specular and reflective type of ink and paper used will cause all kinds of weird results.

>Regards,

>Bill Hogan


>Amazes me that you can't afford an $80 chart. However, if you can't - buy a Kodak Grey Card and hold it next to someone's face. shoot that scene. Gets you way closer to something useful in post than copying a chart at Kinko’s.

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


>Goodman wrote :

class="style11">>However, if you can't - buy a Kodak Grey Card and hold it next to >someone's face.

>I agree. I've owned a MacBeth chart for years but never use it on anymore on features or commercials. It is an outstanding reference for when I teach cinematography: I put the MacBeth up and then we go through different colourspace options on the Sony 900 (a trick I learned from Jeff Cree).

>As for a reference for telecine, for example, it has little relevance. The guy sitting in the telecine room doesn't have one to compare it to. Even if he did, he's sitting in the dark. Turn on a light? What kind? Fluorescent? Tungsten?

>The basic grey card is both a colour reference and an exposure reference that can be measured with calibrated instruments: the waveform and vectorscope.

>Blain Brown
DP
LA


>Blain Brown writes :

class="style11">>...The basic grey card is both a colour reference and an exposure >reference that can be measured with calibrated instruments: the >waveform and vectorscope...

>[This is the second post in this thread that seems to suggest that only a grey scale is needed for proper colour reference, and not the colour patches found on a MacBeth or DSC chart.]

>REPLY: Folks. Some of you may be missing the point: A grey scale or "chip chart" ensures proper white, black, and middle steps of grey balance only. It has nothing to do with proper colorimitry or matrixing (Fancy words for proper rendition of highly saturated primary colours.)

>You can have a perfectly rendered grey scale, but still butcher the rendition of saturated colours. Both the grey scale and a colour chart references are needed. Otherwise? IBM Blue may turn out green, and Revlon Red may turn out orange, even though the grey scale is perfectly neutral.

>Lew Comenetz
Video Engineer/Controller, USA


>Adding on to Lew's comments, as someone who has also had to shade plenty of cameras that matched for black white and grey, but not colours, this is absolutely true.

>The advantage of the MacBeth chart is that anyone anywhere should be able to know what the colours are, even if that means they have to have a chart right there with them. It's a commonly available standard. It's not that it's so wonderful or perfect, it is that it's ubiquitous and consistent.

>This is not true for something you make yourself. Such a chart is pretty much useless down the post production chain.

>Steven Bradford


> Lew Comenetz wrote :

class="style11">>You can have a perfectly rendered grey scale, but still butcher the >rendition of saturated colours. Both the grey scale and a colour chart >references are needed. Otherwise?

>True, but what is the solution then?

>Blain Brown
DP
LA


>Any decent colourist can get a grey card to be neutral and the face next to it to look right so that IBM blue isn't green. Would I suggest using a chart - DSC or something else - of course but if you can't afford a paltry $80 to get a multi-thousand dollar shoot through the post process - well then - at least shoot the producer's face next to a grey card - so the colourist will have a shot at making the scene look right because the producer will be in the room.

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


class="style11">>at least shoot the producer's face next to a grey card - so the colourist >will have a shot at making the scene look right because the producer >will be in the room.

>Unless the producer was drinking heavily on the shoot! Truly, a grey card or the old Kodak TCS (Black, Grey and White) Chart works in almost all instances.

>Does this need to be said - shoot the card under the same lighting as the scene. Had one client get the AC to go outside to shoot the chart while the interior set was being light - not real helpful.

>Clark Bierbaum
Freelance Colourist / Post Producer
Charlotte, NC.


>I would very strongly suggest spending the extra money and getting the Gamma and Density chart:

>http://www.gammaanddensity.com/products/tcontrol.html

>I have one and use it all the time for both film and video - it's expensive, but it's also one of the best investments I've made as a DP.

>I've sat in on too many TK sessions where they've tried to skip past the MacBeth chart (apparently not realizing I was the DP on the project) and instead went to the first person's face they saw, telling me that the MacBeth chart wasn't a good reference for skin tones or colours. <sigh>

>Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List
http://www.cinematography.net


class="style11">> Even if he did, he's sitting in the dark.

>God! I hope not.

>I've only once had to grade something in a blacked out TK suite and it was an awful experience, plus the pictures looked shit in the end.

>I'm assuming that this is TK for TV where you'll have a light reference matched to the tube colour.

>Cheers

>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


>I use the MacBeth for testing, it's a known standard.

>I use the G&D chart for shooting.

>The Kodak white, grey, black chart is also good for shooting.

>Cheers

>Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


>I actually use a Gamma and Density chart for everything also - while I am primarily looking at greys (or greys, depending on which country) the colour continuums (or continua)are more useful to me than the MacBeth, which, as we know , is a process control reference for printing (as in printing on paper.)

>Most of what I shoot gets scanned for VFX work, as opposed to telecined, and a lot of the VistaVision stuff gets printed because Vista telecine is not a great way to assess what you've got...and by shooting the one g&d chart I get some good colour info and lots of grey scale, so by looking at the printer lights, I know exactly where my neg is..

>I paid retail for the damned thing and it has become practically a talisman for me.

>That said, I would say a decent grey scale is way more useful than a MacBeth with regard to process control for set-up in telecine or printing...though a MacBeth can be very helpful (as in Tom Gleeson's recent Fuji tests) in helping you see what sort of response you are getting out of the neg and the print (or TK.)

>I think it is important to understand the difference between references used in order to calibrate or centre a system (essentially process control) and references that are used to help analyse the colourspace of a film stock or digital camera. These are different uses - you might be able to use the same charts, but they are different uses.

>I used a grey scale on some stills work I shot and when I got the stuff back it was all blue - apparently the guy running the printer didn't understand my instructions to "time to the grey scale". He asked me to bring the scale in, and when I did, he did another print run and matched the chart I left with him for no charge - but that brings to mind Jessica's comment about the MacBeth at a TK session - after all, if you don't have one there with you, how are you supposed to know what the colours are supposed to look like.

>Mark Weingartner
no affiliation with gamma & density but I like their chart

>LA based VFX DP/super


>Robert Goodman writes :

class="style11">>Any decent colourist can get a grey card to be neutral and the face next >to it to look right so that IBM blue isn't green.

>REPLY: A grey card may not be sufficient to get IBM Blue to be Blue, or Revlon Red to be Red. In some instances, the same can happen for facial tones.

>The colour matrix/corrector can wreak havoc on saturated colours even when a grey scale is perfectly rendered. Grey scales only measure white balance. They stay perfectly neutral grey even when the matrix/colour corrector is tipped off the scale, The grey card can be perfect, while Revlon Red is deep orange or yellow.

>Lew Comenetz
Video Engineer/Controller, USA


>Jessica Gallant writes :

class="style12">>and instead went to the first person's face they saw, telling me that the >MacBeth chart wasn't a good reference for skin tones or colours. <sigh>

>good grief. Since when is "skin tone" a standard??

>Odds are about 100:1 that the next 2 *Anglo Saxon* persons you see together have the same colour skin. Add to that variations in makeup and ... never mind.

>"Skin tone". What a great way to determine the colourist at hand is clueless to the core/sole purpose of their employment.

>I'll see your < sigh > and raise you a <double sigh>.

>Cliff "donno' HD, but do know colour" Hancuff
Washington, DC


>"Skin tone". What a great way to determine the colourist at hand is clueless to the core/sole purpose of their employment.

>Our purpose, like yours, is to make the "proper" image and make the client happy (and a million other things, that if you are working with an experienced colourist, you never know about.) I have not seen a chart setup last through the scene very often - my question is always what look are we trying to achieve and almost always we are trying to make the people in a scene look good (or we are concerned in some way with the people.) If the people are too white we add warmth if called for - if ruddy we take away warmth - if green around the gills we need to address that.

>I did series dailies and would have lost my job if I sent them out based on the charts shot by ASC, CSC and other DP's.

>Charts have value but as a colourist I need to make the important things look right - sometimes correcting the chart, making a mark and then correcting the scene. With a lot of work now based on package pricing (which really hurts the facility) the colourist often needs to get to the point quickly - which may involve bypassing a chart - no offence meant to anyone.

>Clark (Realty Bites) Bierbaum
Freelance Colourist / Post Producer
Charlotte, NC.


class="style11">> Unless the producer was drinking heavily on the shoot!

>Following the lead of Ed Coleman’s Super Dailies, I will, for a "small fee" attend your colour grading session and light the producer in situation to match your reference shots of said "all lit up" producer. Note that when matching specific alcohol consumption there will be a slight mark up on beverages needed.

>Because for some reason I may not make it to a session (I'm recovering from a previous session for instance) I suggest you shoot a bunch of crisp new US Twenties or better C Notes next to Producer's face and the grey card as "coverage"

>BTW, Clark I sympathize

>-Sam "often swims in uncharted waters" Wells
film/../nj


>Exactly, the goal is to get the "best" skin-tone, the best looking scene, regardless of what was actually captured at the time. You can shoot all the charts in the world, but ultimately the colourist is going to make creative decisions that will supersede what was achieved during shooting.

Jim Eagan
NY editor/cameraman


class="style11">>I have not seen a chart setup last through the scene very often - my >question is always what look are we trying to achieve and almost >always we are trying to make the people in a scene look good

>Forgive my overreaching criticism of the use of skin tones for establishing colour balance. When it comes to mission critical colour, charts would be better ... in most cases, much better.

>When it comes to variations in lighting and actors movement around a set, as well as light bounced off collared practical surfaces, using the "historical" skin tone of the actor from previous scenes would then take precedence. Consistency and "looking good" *should* outweigh all considerations of precision and accuracy.

>Cliff Hancuff
Washington, DC


class="style11">>Consistency and "looking good" *should* outweigh all considerations >of precision and accuracy.

>Art - not science very often rule the day. Glad we seem to agree.

>Clark Bierbaum
Freelance Communicator
Charlotte, NC.