# Saturation in color correcting - how much is too much? [Lengthy question]

1. First off, this is a long post filled with many examples, you can see how much I care in getting this right. If you know what you're doing regarding this and feel like you know what's what in this field, I appreciate you taking the time to go through all of this.

I know the general idea is that personal preference is the answer, but as a novice I still don't really know how much is too much, even by looking at the graphs (vectorscope, histogram, etc) as I don't know everything about them. These videos were recorded with a camcorder 6 years ago, I'm combining and color correcting them in Vegas before frameserving out to avisynth for QTGMC and ccd.vdf.

Before I show you some examples for guidance, note that I have already set a white balance on the project.

Regular:

White Balance:

Now here it is with color corrector and a saturation of 1.306:

And my preference for the sake of this thread, 1.612:

So in these next set of examples you will see the comparison between the regular footage (with white balance obviously), midway through my preferred saturation level, and then my preferred one.

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306

1.612

Now let's get to the action shots, people, etc. Why I think my "more" makes the most sense and looks the most real in regards to how the world looks, to an extent, if that makes any sense.

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306

1.612

Now here's where things get tricky, if you've been looking at the vectorscope, it's been A-OK up until this point from what I know about it. The majority of the dots are supposed to stay inside the circle, right? Well, now when I get to 2 certain points in the video, a blue shirt and a red shirt/cake, the dots fly off the vectorscope. Now the problem here is that I don't know if I should worry about this because I'm pretty sure it's only happening because those 2 things are shining bright because of the sun...because at no other points in the project do the dots go past the circle other than these moments when the sun shines upon these two things. So, should I compensate and lower the saturation of the whole project because of these small seconds of moments, is that what you're supposed to do? Can you target one color like so and lower only it's saturation (if that's a normal practice)? Has it overall been too saturated up to this point and these 2 moments are simply highlighting the truth? These are the things that I don't know as a novice.

Note the vectorscopes:

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306

1.612 (yes, in this instance I do notice how much detail left the red shirt, but other than that I still feel that this is the best option overall...)

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306 (once again, I believe this is better than the next one since the next one absolutely crushes the cake details, but even with THIS one the dots fly off the vectorscope, if I can't even choose this setting according to the vectorscope...then what can I do?)

1.612

Once again, once we get out of that bright sunlight, all the dots stay nice and clean inside of the scope.

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306

1.612

For the heck of it, a bit of later on of the same day in the same project video, using the same settings (which is what I will be doing rather than changing individual settings for each small clip):

Regular

1.306

1.612

Regular

1.306

1.612

So now, phew. 46 images. Hopefully that's enough visual information for you experts out there, if you need to see something else, footage, a different number setting example, let me know. But I think it should suffice.

Basically, which one would you pick? Is there a general number you never go past as a rule of thumb for videos like this (or camcorder footage), like 1.2, 1.3, 0.5, etc.?

Is my 1.612 too much in your opinion?

Is it only too much in those few instances where the sun shines brightly on those few things; could you reduce it in those few objects somehow while keeping the rest 1.612, would you even attempt that or is that too high regardless?

Would you do anything differently, another filter, another setting?

In which do the people look more naturally skin toned? In which does the world look more natural?

Is it okay to sometimes go outside the vectorscope in your clip, either a lot only for a couple seconds in the total project or a little dot here and there occasionally? Or is it ALWAYS a big no?

All of those questions and whatever else that could go into this equation, I want to hear your input, your methods, your expertise.

If you got through all of that, thank you, and I hope to get a response from you.
2. It's not ok to exceed vectorscope limits.

Waveform should almost always go from 0 to 100 (unless you know you are using 7.5 IRE, which does not appear to be the case here.) Judging by your RGB Parade, this is where your main issues are. Your contrast is too compressed in every image posted. Your colors will appear more saturated if your black levels are correct.

Once you meet the "legal" requirements, the rest is personal aesthetics.
3. Hey,

I think you would be doing yourself a huge favor by training up on basic color correction first. Something like this:

https://vimeo.com/24334195

This is Vegas specific and comes recommended.

Understanding the basics will help you so much to get the technical stuff right rather than guessing, especially when you're going to spend time and effort on this and the footage is obviously important to you. Give it the love it deserves .

t
4. Every one of your adjustments looks worse than the original. I recommend not adjusting saturation unless you are trying to achieve a special effect. One exception to this is using the Vegas "Secondary Color Corrector." It can let you adjust a specific color range, and only the part of that range which is too saturated. I've seldom seen under-saturated colors. The over-saturated problem is quite common when capturing NTSC video because of the way red is stored. It often tends to bloom, and one correction that can help is to select just that color and then slightly reduce the saturation.

Increasing saturation almost always looks fake. Also, as you have found, even a small correction can lead to out-of-gamut results.
5. Originally Posted by Topsy
Hey,

I think you would be doing yourself a huge favor by training up on basic color correction first. Something like this:

https://vimeo.com/24334195

This is Vegas specific and comes recommended.

Understanding the basics will help you so much to get the technical stuff right rather than guessing, especially when you're going to spend time and effort on this and the footage is obviously important to you. Give it the love it deserves .

t
Just watched that first video before I have to take off, that was really helpful and the guy's a great teacher. Hopefully not much has changed in Vegas 13 than the version he's displaying. I'll be watching the rest, thanks!

Waveform should almost always go from 0 to 100 (unless you know you are using 7.5 IRE, which does not appear to be the case here.) Judging by your RGB Parade, this is where your main issues are. Your contrast is too compressed in every image posted. Your colors will appear more saturated if your black levels are correct.
I take it the fix that Topsy's video is referring to is what you're talking about as well, fixing that RGB Parade range. Will do, thanks. Regarding the last sentence I quoted from you, that's the good kind of natural saturation you're referring to as a byproduct of fixing the RGB Parade, right?

Even the white balance filter added on to the original first picture..?

I recommend not adjusting saturation unless you are trying to achieve a special effect. One exception to this is using the Vegas "Secondary Color Corrector." It can let you adjust a specific color range, and only the part of that range which is too saturated. I've seldom seen under-saturated colors. The over-saturated problem is quite common when capturing NTSC video because of the way red is stored. It often tends to bloom, and one correction that can help is to select just that color and then slightly reduce the saturation.

Increasing saturation almost always looks fake. Also, as you have found, even a small correction can lead to out-of-gamut results.
Hm...is this always the case with restoring home videos and tapes or just for my camcorder footage selection? Because a lot of the tutorials and YT videos I came across a while back, teaching you how to fix stuff up in tools like avisynth, almost always had some sort of Tweak code in it as well that included saturating the video to give it "more life."

Such as:
Code:
`Tweak(hue=0.0, sat=1.4, bright=3, cont=0.9, coring=True, sse=False, startHue=0, endHue=360, maxSat=150, minSat=0, interp=16)`
So I'm assuming all these people were fundamentally wrong in their approach then...

Here are 2 clips from the beginning of that day so you can see it in motion as well; would you never add saturation to these..? Would you only edit the color range as displayed in Topsy's video?
6. Hey, man, you've got some perceptual difficulties, besides not reading so well. You're shooting through auto glass, babe. So you've killed contrast and normal daylight color balance from the time you press "record" until you turn it off. The first step in image correction is usually reconciling bad luma and chroma levels, which here are washed out by shooting thru tinted auto glass.

You won't get a full-fledged course in color correction from any video forum or any free tutorials, you'll just get general hints and piecemeal advice. There are many books on digital color correction for a/v and photo work, and most of them are very good. Or you can dredge through free videos and whatnot for the next few years, your choice.

These two scenes should be corrected first for contrast and more realistic black levels. You'll see a lot of things fall into place if you start there before you get into screwing up saturation. If you don't know what black levels are, you have some reading to do in a good book on image correction, using histograms, and etc. And if you're afraid of working in RGB with this sort of thing, you'll probably never get what you want.
7. Hey, man, you've got some perceptual difficulties, besides not reading so well. You're shooting through auto glass, babe. So you've killed contrast and normal daylight color balance from the time you press "record" until you turn it off. The first step in image correction is usually reconciling bad luma and chroma levels, which here are washed out by shooting thru tinted auto glass.
Oh, I should've stated this like I did in an earlier thread, this isn't my footage. It's my uncle's, from when he went to Europe 6 years ago. He's just a regular old dude who bought a camcorder for the trip, I'm pretty sure he was just shooting anything and everything and wasn't focused on being Scorsese. The majority of the video isn't shooting inside a car, not even 5 minutes of the 30 minute run-time is. Like I said before linking to them, it's simply a part of the beginning of the day when they're on the way to a birthday party.

You won't get a full-fledged course in color correction from any video forum or any free tutorials, you'll just get general hints and piecemeal advice. There are many books on digital color correction for a/v and photo work, and most of them are very good. Or you can dredge through free videos and whatnot for the next few years, your choice.
I'm pretty sure learning skills is not a magical thing you can only get through books, visually learning through demos and tutorials and firsthand help from people that have years of experience is more than enough in any field. The internet in general can teach you anything on the subject a book can, it's a new world.

These two scenes should be corrected first for contrast and more realistic black levels. You'll see a lot of things fall into place if you start there before you get into screwing up saturation.
Thanks, I did not know that, that's why I'm here.

And if you're afraid of working in RGB with this sort of thing, you'll probably never get what you want.
I never said I was afraid of doing so, I just learned that was the key in starting to fix this up rather than saturating thanks to Topsy.
8. Yes, that's all understood and you have an appreciable problem, but so far you've underestimated the task and haven't yet learned to "see" video problems. Learning to recognize problems is as difficult as finding solutions. You haven't mentioned (or maybe haven't noticed) what the camera's autogain and autocolor circuits are doing in these videos. The color balance changes every time a new, dominant object enters the frame or every time the angle of the sun changes. Black levels pump up and down when the camera moves into a view of people inside the car or when dark or bright objects pass by. These changes affect black and bright levels as well as perceived saturation.

This will be like driving over a bad road in bad weather with bad wheels. That's a lot of learning for one project. Your software has autogain and autocolor filters but they can't second guess the original video correctly and as far as I know they can't be adjusted like some in Avisynth -- and even the latter will give you the devil of a time. Add to this, levels during capture were poorly controlled, so periods when details in brights are blown away and clipped can't be recovered and will always look over-exposed no matter how dark you make them. I wouldn't envy anyone who has to decide how to compromise these elements. Some of it can't be fixed, so you have some decisions to make. I don't have your software so I can't get into any filters, but I'm sure you're going to have to start with Avisynth. There's no simple solution.

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