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  1. Greetings,

    The past year I have been collecting tons of old amateur 8mm and 16mm films. Many of which were shot between 1920 and 1970.

    I am having all these films scanned in 4K Apple ProRes 444. But for now I use 1080p ProRes444 work files to get the hang of it. I want to get these films ready to put on YouTube for everybody to see these awesome time capsules.

    Unfortunately many old colour stock has faded over the years and such has a blue or red cast. I've corrected photos before, but never video.

    I tried my hands on this 1930 Kodachrome 16mm film. I am using the free version of Davinci Resolve 16, something I don't have much experience with at all. But I found the entire interface to be pretty quick and intuitive. I like it!

    So this is my first 'serious' attempt to make something good enough for YouTube. My aim is to have natural colours without any sort of cast. But sometimes I can't get it perfect and have to settle for a compromise. The original scans are very dull in order to preserve as much detail as possible, so in most shots I also bumped up the contrast and highlights.


    Would love to get your opinions on my first tries over +/- 3 days. I made each individual scene its own clip because almost every scene had a different cast and brightness.

    Raw scan on the left, my grading on the right.







    Regards
    Last edited by Dutchsteammachine; 26th Jul 2020 at 07:07.
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  2. I'll explain a bit more about my workflow.

    First I use offset to try and align the RGB channels in the histogram as best as possible. Then I use the other sliders such as gamma to make the final adjustments to get them alinged even more. But I have noticed this doesn't always give natural-looking results, so sometimes I deviate.

    Then I adjust contrast and brightness as I see fit.

    I don't know if this is the best way, if ts backwards or not...
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  3. Originally Posted by Dutchsteammachine View Post
    Unfortunately many old colour stock has faded over the years and such has a blue or red cast. I've corrected photos before, but never video.

    I tried my hands on this 1930 Kodachrome 16mm film.


    Would love to get your opinions on my first tries over +/- 3 days.
    I have color graded a lot of old movie film. Here is one before/after from work I did on 16mm film, quite a bit of which was Kodachrome from 1940 onward.

    Restoration Before/After

    I have a couple of thoughts on what you posted.

    1. The first step is to correct the gamma. Your shadows are still too dense. You need to use a "histogram curve" to correct film. You most definitely do not want to increase brightness, which gains all pixels by the same amount, resulting in blown out highlights and washed out shadows. Even the "gamma" function available in most NLEs isn't quite right because it tends to provide gain a little further up in the midtones, and you want to gain areas that are in the darker regions. What you want to use is a histogram curve which lets you apply different amounts of gain to each pixel brightness. I have attached a snapshot of the curve I use in Vegas Pro. As you can see, it applies no change to pure black and pure white, and applies most of the gain to pixels that are in the 10-30% brightness range. This will make the faces look natural instead of black, as many of them do in your example.

    Given that you have had these films scanned professionally on what I assume was a Spirit or Cintel scanner, you should have wonderful dynamic range to play with and should be able to coax quite a bit of detail out of the shadows.

    2. The next step is to work on the color. Ideally you want a tool which lets you apply different color correction to the shadows, the midtones, and the highlights. You will often find that the shadows have quite a different cast than the highlights. In Vegas Pro, I have three color wheels, one for each of these three brightness ranges. The usual technique, which I'm sure you are already using, is to find something in the scene which should be neutral. It doesn't have to be black or white, but instead some shade of gray. White table cloths and t-shirts are great, assuming they are exposed properly. You sample with the subtraction tool so that whatever color it samples is subtracted, thus eliminating the cast.

    A good example of why you need to apply different color correction to different brightnesses is the last scene in your example clip. Look at the dark windows on the second story and how your correction has introduced a really nasty blue hue. The color of those windows should be neutral gray/black.

    The RGB subtraction model doesn't always work as well as you might want. So, research to see if there is a specific film color correction plugin for your NLE.

    3. Leaving the color issues for a moment, whatever you did to the film seems to have resulted in a tremendous number of dropped frames. The right side of your before/after is herky-jerky. You need to study your workflow and figure out how and why that happened.

    4. You sometimes just need to apply your own colors. Vegas Pro has a Secondary Color Corrector that I use for this. It lets me define a range of colors based on hue, saturation, and brightness. Once I have defined that range, it creates what amounts to a mask and I can then modify the color within that mask using a color wheel. I can also redefine it any way I want (turning a red jacket into a green jacket, for instance). This can be used for things like the scene with the thatched roof house at about the 1:45 mark. That sky should be blue. If you can't get close to that color by either doing color subtraction, or simply playing around with a color wheel (I think the green channel needs to be modified), you can select the blue

    I've attached an image that shows what happens when I apply all of these techniques to that thatched roof house. It's still far from perfect, but you'll see that the shadows and highlights have been corrected differently; the sky has been set to what I think its color should be, separate from any hue adjustments; and the shadows have been gained without washing them out, and without blowing out the highlights.
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  4. Wow John, thanks for such an elaborate reply.

    With dense shadows, do you mean that the shadow parts of images have clipped into total black pixels? I like a bit of contrast in my images, so sometimes clip the shadows and highlights a bit by increasing contrast and highlights. Is this a totally wrong way to achieve this? I think dull images are boring... Kodachrome is known for its vivid colours!

    I did notice that shadows, midtones and highlights can have different colour casts. I'll mess around with Davinci Resolve 16 in applying corrections to each one differently. It supposedly has very powerful colour-grading tools so should be able to do this. With RGB curves on select brightness levels of the image right?

    The films were scanned with a Müller HDS+ by the company that makes those scanners. I then get unedited files of those scans. I visited them this year to pick up/drop off some films and will be doing so more often. Here is a frame from a video I made of them scanning one of my films:



    I was struggling with the sky colour, I will need to be looking into selectively changing it...

    What is the best way to find natural colours of things like skies and people?

    The dropped frame problem is something that obviously needs to be fixed... I do have an idea why it does that...

    I'll look into all your suggestions and advice, thanks again.
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    Last edited by Dutchsteammachine; 18th Jul 2020 at 16:12.
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  5. Originally Posted by Dutchsteammachine View Post
    With dense shadows, do you mean that the shadow parts of images have clipped into total black pixels? I like a bit of contrast in my images, so sometimes clip the shadows and highlights a bit by increasing contrast and highlights. Is this a totally wrong way to achieve this?
    Yes, it is. The problem with the contrast controls in most NLEs is that they achieve their effect by driving dark and bright pixels towards the extremes, usually resulting in both getting clipped. The only time I would use that control is if I had both muddy highlights and grayish shadows. The dense shadows I am talking about are the pixels that are in the 10-30% (100% = pure bright white) range. This includes faces under a hat, shadows under a building overhang, etc. The whole idea of using a histogram correction tool is that it lets you map the naturally dense Kodachrome to the normal video gamut. As I said in the last post, this is done by only brightening that limited range, while not touching the near-0% (i.e., almost black) or near-100% (almost white) pixels.

    You need to remember that Kodachrome was designed to be shown in a auditorium by projecting a white-hot 1,000+ watt light thought it. In order to maintain a good image on the screen, the dark parts of each Kodachrome frame had to be extremely dense. As a result, it will never look natural and will never look right unless you make these corrections.

    Originally Posted by Dutchsteammachine View Post
    I was struggling with the sky colour, I will need to be looking into selectively changing it...
    Tools which are specifically designed for film might be able to nail this without resorting to what I did.

    Also, I forgot to mention that color grading often must be done for each and every scene. Sometimes you will get multiple scenes of the same event, at the same time of day with the same exposure, and you can use the same presets for those.

    Another thing that is apart and separate from this is how to get rid of the flash frames. Almost all amateur cameras produced this effect which is caused by the rotating shutter taking 1-3 frames to get up to speed, resulting in several over-exposed frames at the beginning of each scene. I wrote AVISynth scripts to detect these and output the frames at which they happen. I then import those frame numbers into my NLE (Vegas Pro) which lets me go directly to each flash. I could have also had the AVISynth script automatically remove the flash frames, but I found that there are other reasons why exposure can vary suddenly, especially at the beginning and end of each 50' reel where the film is sometimes fogged.
    Originally Posted by Dutchsteammachine View Post
    What is the best way to find natural colours of things like skies and people?
    Your own memory. "Hollywood" pays big bucks to people who do "color timing," which is the phrase used to describe the art of color correcting film. Most of their work, when film was still being used, was to make sure that results from each emulstion batch matched, and that prints made for distribution were of uniform quality.
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  6. Originally Posted by Dutchsteammachine View Post
    With dense shadows, do you mean that the shadow parts of images have clipped into total black pixels? I like a bit of contrast in my images, so sometimes clip the shadows and highlights a bit by increasing contrast and highlights. Is this a totally wrong way to achieve this?
    Yes, it is. The problem with the contrast controls in most NLEs is that they achieve their effect by driving dark and bright pixels towards the extremes, usually resulting in both bright and dark areas getting clipped. The only time I would use that control is if I had both muddy highlights and grayish shadows.

    The dense shadows I am talking about are the pixels that are in the 10-30% (100% = pure bright white) range. This includes faces under a hat, shadows under a building overhang, etc. The whole idea of using a histogram correction tool is that it lets you map the naturally dense Kodachrome to the normal video gamut. As I said in the last post, this is done by only brightening that limited range, while not touching the near-0% (i.e., almost black) or near-100% (almost white) pixels.

    You need to remember that Kodachrome was designed to be shown in a auditorium by projecting a white-hot 1,000+ watt light thought it. In order to maintain a good image on the screen, the dark parts of each Kodachrome frame had to be extremely dense. As a result, it will never look natural and will never look right unless you make these corrections.

    Originally Posted by Dutchsteammachine View Post
    I was struggling with the sky colour, I will need to be looking into selectively changing it...
    Tools which are specifically designed for film might be able to nail this without resorting to what I did.

    Also, I forgot to mention that color grading often must be done for each and every scene. Sometimes you will get multiple scenes of the same event, at the same time of day with the same exposure, and you can use the same presets for those, but usually you have to grade each scene differently. Sometimes you can create a half dozen preset and re-use some of the earlier corrections in a later scene.

    Something that is apart and separate from these color and gamm issues is how to get rid of the flash frames. Almost all amateur cameras produced this noxious artifact. It is is caused by the camera's rotating shutter taking 1-3 frames to get up to speed, resulting in several over-exposed frames at the beginning of each scene. I wrote AVISynth scripts to detect these and output the frames at which they happen. I then import those frame numbers into my NLE (Vegas Pro) which lets me go directly to each flash. I could have also had the AVISynth script automatically remove the flash frames, but I found that there are other reasons why exposure can vary suddenly, especially at the beginning and end of each 50' reel where the film is sometimes fogged.

    Originally Posted by Dutchsteammachine View Post
    What is the best way to find natural colours of things like skies and people?
    Your own memory. "Hollywood" pays big bucks to people who do "color timing," which is the phrase used to describe the art of color correcting film. Most of their work, when film was still being used, was to make sure that results from each emulstion batch matched, and that prints made for distribution were of uniform quality. They do most of their work "by eye," meaning that there is an art to this that you'll have to develop, but if you are like me (absolutely no artistic sense), it will be a struggle.
    Last edited by johnmeyer; 18th Jul 2020 at 18:12.
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  7. Thanks John,

    An update.

    I figured out why it was dropping frames while exporting. The source file framerate is 16fps, but for some reason Davinci imported this as 24fps. However, the timeline and project frame rate were all set to 16fps. The export was set to 16fps too. This was causing it to drop frames, 16fps -> 24fps -> 16fps.

    Unfortunately setting it to the correct 16fps messes up all of the scenes I had cut into separated clips, so I have to start from scratch.

    I had an other go with the sliders and I was able to correct the shadows, removing their strong blue tint.
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  8. Too bad it wasn't the other way around: duplicated frames are easy to fix, but once a frame is dropped, that information is gone.

    I'm doing a big audio project with dictation belts, dictation discs, 33-1/3 vinyl, and 78 rpm. I forgot to change the needle when switching to 78 and had to re-do the transfers (the 33-1/3 needle is much smaller and "chatters" in a 78 rpm goove).

    So, I know the feeling of having to re-do a lot of work.
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  9. Watch the colour grading video on this link from beginning to end, scroll down a bit to find it, 2nd video.
    This woman is a genius. She sorted out every question I had.
    https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/uk/products/davinciresolve/training
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  10. Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Too bad it wasn't the other way around: duplicated frames are easy to fix, but once a frame is dropped, that information is gone.

    I'm doing a big audio project with dictation belts, dictation discs, 33-1/3 vinyl, and 78 rpm. I forgot to change the needle when switching to 78 and had to re-do the transfers (the 33-1/3 needle is much smaller and "chatters" in a 78 rpm goove).

    So, I know the feeling of having to re-do a lot of work.
    Ouch, I know that feeling of messing up a transfer and then having to play the entire 4 hour reel to reel tape again...

    I have to turn off my mobile phone while making transfers otherwise the DAC picks up the GSM signals...



    Audio digitization is also something I am into. Mostly amateur recordings of early spaceflight missions that I then put on archive.org. I sometimes mess around with Audacity in restoring muffled sound, especially when from reels recorded on the lowest speed.

    I actually plan to get a nice, working wire recorder from Ebay together with a bunch of wire reels just listen to what is on it. I think recordings from the 40s to early 70s would make a nice addition to these films on my YT channel.
    Last edited by Dutchsteammachine; 26th Jul 2020 at 07:25.
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  11. Originally Posted by super8rescue View Post
    Watch the colour grading video on this link from beginning to end, scroll down a bit to find it, 2nd video.
    This woman is a genius. She sorted out every question I had.
    https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/uk/products/davinciresolve/training

    Thanks for that link S8R, it really taught me all the ins and out of Davinci Resolve that I needed for this. I knew it had nodes but never dared messing with them until now. Makes things a lot easier, especially shared nodes to increase saturation for all clips at once, among other things.

    Over the past week I sat in front of my PC screen with this film some more, having a second/third-ish go.

    I feel like I have improved but scenes still need work. Cuts with overlapping scenery also often don't match when it comes to colour.

    What to look for when trying to match cuts?

    Last edited by Dutchsteammachine; 7th Aug 2020 at 18:00.
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  12. I'm glad you found it helpful. I watched it twice and learnt so much.

    Learning to set the black point and learning to read the scopes, so valuable.

    I do all of my work with the Primaries bars, I find them much easier to work with, and the parade scope.

    Now I know how to read the scopes I can almost colour correct without even looking at the picture

    When matching cuts, if I understand you correctly, I just grab a still of the frame from one shot, (right click the viewer of the clip, choose take still) it saves to the gallery on the left of the viewer, select the shot you want to match in to the viewer and then right click the thumbnail of the still grab and 'apply grade' to the next shot you want the same grade applied to.

    I also find it easier to turn the lum mix right down to zero, that way you only affect the one colour you are working on, you might notice while reading the scopes, as you make colour changes, it affects all of the colours in the spectrum, by turning lum mix down to zero, that won't happen. In some cases it can really speed up grading. Lum mix is in one of the two tool bars down with contrast and saturation, can't remember if it's on tab one or two.

    Here is one of my examples of super8 colour grading from a reel with cyan dye failure.
    I scanned the reel as tiff images

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wzDM3qQbqk

    It's also worth looking up how to do auto scene detection before you put media in to the media bin.

    The auto detection is very handy, there is a way to make it less sensitive as it can sometimes confuse one scene to be two scenes.
    There is a tutorial for that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqjhF1wfIOk and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjztG1vDuu0

    I spent two weeks cutting scene by scene until I stumbled on this, having it auto detect scenes prior to any grading work, really speeds things up.

    As soon as you begin a project, before you add any media. use the cog wheel in the bottom right corner to set the frame rate of the project to that of you film.
    Once you add media you can not change the frame rate.

    My early scans all came out at 30fps so for those early scans, I set the frame rate of timeline and project to 30fps and then right click the film on the time line and use the change speed to bring it back to 18fps. Thats the best fix I have found for sorting out frame rates.
    Now I scan in still images I choose 18fps for my time line and all looks good.
    Last edited by super8rescue; 3rd Aug 2020 at 04:54.
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  13. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    Learn to stabilizer, pan smoothly.
    See attached.

    Also, the biggest sin with color correction is not having a calibrated monitor. Don't do that.
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  14. Stabilizer is a horrible thing in most cases. It uses a software zoom which loses too much.
    I had one good result with de shaker
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9lqH9MQGQY
    It's pretty pointless to tell someone to pan smoothly 50 years after the cine film was shot under unknown conditions...
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  15. Stabilizers don't have to zoom in if they have a good border replacement algorithm. It doesn't work 100% of the time, but it works often enough to be useful.

    Also, each stabilizer is good for different things. I have used Deshaker (I wrote a long guide for it many, many years ago, and wrote a very complicated set of scripts to allow it to be used inside of Vegas Pro); Steadyhand, Depanstabilize, and Mercalli.

    Mercalli is far more advanced in almost every way than the other three, but doesn't always produce the best results. Also, it is tough to integrate into a workflow. However, if you want to get the best stabilization, with the fewest artifacts, or if you need to remove rolling shutter artifacts, then Mercalli is the way to go.

    For all my film work, I use Depanstabilize. You can check out the results in my film before/after clip:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBAHzO7rJS0
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  16. Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
    Learn to stabilizer, pan smoothly.
    See attached.

    Also, the biggest sin with color correction is not having a calibrated monitor. Don't do that.
    That is looking very good lordsmurf.

    However, I think you are using one of my earlier attempts with dropped frames? So the panning is looking a bit worse than it really was. See #11 for one without the dropped frames.

    I messed around with stabilization in Davinci and it works very good even with minimal cropping. Certainly the way to go with several clips, such as the pans.

    I have been thinking about getting a monitor calibration device for some time, as I see quite a big difference between my multiple screens. Do you recommend the Spyder Pro 5?


    Originally Posted by johnmeyer View Post
    Stabilizers don't have to zoom in if they have a good border replacement algorithm. It doesn't work 100% of the time, but it works often enough to be useful.

    Also, each stabilizer is good for different things. I have used Deshaker (I wrote a long guide for it many, many years ago, and wrote a very complicated set of scripts to allow it to be used inside of Vegas Pro); Steadyhand, Depanstabilize, and Mercalli.

    Mercalli is far more advanced in almost every way than the other three, but doesn't always produce the best results. Also, it is tough to integrate into a workflow. However, if you want to get the best stabilization, with the fewest artifacts, or if you need to remove rolling shutter artifacts, then Mercalli is the way to go.

    For all my film work, I use Depanstabilize. You can check out the results in my film before/after clip:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBAHzO7rJS0
    Stabilization really does improve the watchability.

    But I am also impressed with the amount of dirt, mold and dust you have removed. I need to include your tools in my workflow for sure, will check tutorials on doom9.

    Do you recommend cleaning of dirt, mold and dust to be done on the first step before davinci-resolve or the last after stabilization? I don't know if your tools support prores422/444, which I need for colour/contrast correction.

    I saw a comment in one of your vids said the colours were washed out. I too encountered this after colour correction and contrast adjustments. I made a second node in davinci resolve and boosted the saturation from 50 to 100. Made the colours pop a bit more, but not unnaturally so, like a cartoon.

    This also shows that the colour is a little unstable. Don't know if this is the scan or film itself.
    Last edited by Dutchsteammachine; 7th Aug 2020 at 17:56.
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  17. I made this, about the look of a finished product. Then read about stabilization... tried some clips, and want to re-do all of them now. Going on vacation this week so when I get back to my PC. Unfortunately I need to make a deadline for YT so... maybe as a remaster (;

    Unlisted video:
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  18. Some reading for your vacation:

    The power of restoring old 8mm films

    Capturing and restoring old 8mm films

    The power of Avisynth: new 8mm film restoring examples

    These were started by "Videofred" and he provides an AVISynth script which does the things you saw in my video. I then took his work and modified it considerably to suit my needs. My contributions included a completely different way to remove dirt which, as you saw, works amazingly well (if you made it to the end of the before/after, even I can't believe what the dirt removal was able to achieve). I also sped it up by a factor of at least 4x.

    In the time since I posted that before/after, VideoFred and another doom9.org member, StainlessS, produced a gamma and, to some degree, color correction module called GamMac. It can somewhat restore colors in old film, but only under some circumstances. One of the problems with non-Kodachrome movie film is that each color layer fades at a different rate, leading to a color cast, with red being the most common (i.e., the red color layer is more resistant to fading and therefore is the only color left.

    With some film there is only so much you can do, and you either have to desaturate it completely and let it be B&W, or sometimes you can coax just enough color to make the scene have some semblance of color, even if it isn't totally accurate or vibrant. This ancient clip of Lund, Utah taken by my father in 1937 is a good example:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwNXV84ztHw

    Finally, here's the order for doing the restoration:

    Stabilization
    Remove Dirt
    Reduce Grain (resist the temptation to do too much of this)
    Sharpen
    Gamma Correct
    Color Correct
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