Color Techniques Workflow
Now is the time to talk about how do you start a job using this, and let's talk about color correcting and when do you do your color, how do you do your color. Okay?
Excellent, good. You guys are hanging in there, I really appreciate that, so let's start a job ... From Raw ... And I'm gonna open up this image. To be or not to be, that is the question, and how do you color correct? Do you color correct now? Do you color correct later? Who color corrects? Who decides, how does the file go? These are the kind of questions that happen and every single job is gonna be different. Like, literally every single job. So, if you're have a job and you open it in Raw, most of my work, I would say almost all of my work is, I get a Raw file, okay. Now, has the photographer gone on set and figured out what the look, everybody's looking for and what they want? Just for giggles, I'm setting this up. I certainly hope so. Here's why I hope so, as a retoucher, I'm in a darkroom, in some God know...
s where city doing work, I am not on the set. I am not sitting there with the art director and the client at the same time having a conversation about what they want it to look like. So, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, what has happened is the photographer has set their file when they shot it and they've given you a DNG, an XMP file that is attached to the file. So, hopefully, it's attached already and you don't have to look for it. If you do need to look for it, you go under Load Settings and you navigate to where your XMP, this is perfect, XMP is showing. This is why this is perfect. This is a job I do for a client of mine. I have a client who likes a very illustrated look on top of his work, very illustrated, very crunchy, very saturated, almost like a painting. We do all the retouching, the entire job, and at the end, I make that merged layer on top and I apply a final file with the look applied and I get an XMP, and then, I can click on that XMP and load it, and I can apply that look to this image. It is not from this photographer. It is not for this job. It is not for this look, so it's not gonna register the same way. So, when I get a job, I like to open the XMP the way the photographer decided it should be. If the photographer has not decided and the client has not decided, then I choose and I save it. Very important, save your settings and save it however you've done it. I'm not worrying about what this looks like. I save it in the job folder. So, I will call it ... Creative Live ... JOB folder. How's that? And I will call it, This is are starting look, whatever works for your workflow, and I make sure as heck that every file I open that's from that photo shoot is opened with that same look. Okay, this is really, really, really, really important. Oh, and did we talk about, let's do this again, oh that darn color setting. What are your color settings at? Is your client, you've gotta pay attention to the same thing when you're doing that, please do not skip this. Please, I beg of you. You will have your Raw file default, whatever you had it on last, that might not be what this client wants. Please, I, the biggest achtung danger, Will Robinson, pay attention to this. This is the number one place on a Camera Raw file where people will mess up, I think, is they won't double check the color space it needs to be in. There is no right answer for any of these color spaces, it's whatever the job is asking for or your workflow is asking for, okay? So, let's put the sRGB just for giggles. Alright, and now I have my smart object. So, now let's say you have your job, you have your call out, people are making decisions, you're retouching, you're doing color, you might change the color on top of this. The crazy thing that y'all have to pay attention to is you don't wanna go back and change that DNG from the beginning. You don't wanna, if you've done your retouching after you've opened that DNG, that Raw file, you're committed, that is your color. You're not going back. You can't go back because chances are what you've done, and I'm sorry, maybe there's a few folks out there in Photoshop who get a photo and they don't have to retouch it at all. I don't know you people. I'm sure you exist out there. Most people I know, you've got to touch this file. You've got to retouch it. So, once you've committed to that first opening, that's it, that is your color setting and that's what you need to stick to. So, I just wanted to talk a little bit about being brave and conscious about when you open a Raw file, and know that you're actually setting up your, your job flow and then don't change it. Do not change it. Stick to it or you're gonna have to re retouch your jobs. Does that make sense? Yeah? I wanna, just wanna make sure. This is a very, very, very important point. So, let's talk about, perhaps, job management for a second and job flow and how you kinda can manage your color. Alright ... Here's what I would suggest and this is pretty much how I work, I'll have a job folder. Inside that job folder, I'll have assets ... From client ... And inside that assets from client, hopefully, hopefully, will be a DNG file that they've given, an XMP that they've used to open their file, hopefully. So, you've got your Raw image, you got the XMP that they've given you. Why I'm saying that and really, really, really stressing this, you will be shocked how many people don't know to ask for the XMP. When you get a job, please ask for the XMP. The XMP is basically the color code that they have decided on set how they want this to look. Please, you photographers out there, please give the XMP. Know to give that data. It's a little tiny, little 8K file and it needs to go along with the file. I am not a Lightroom user. I know you guys have extensive Lightroom classes here at Create Live and you guys can ... Talk about that when, in those courses, and I'm certain they're very diligent about delivering DNG files that have an attached XMP file to 'em, but please know that you need to ask for 'em, okay? And then, how I will work, if I don't, maybe it's pertinent to color, what the hell, it's pertinent to life, I have a wips folder, and a wips folder is a ... Work in progress. Wips folders are work in progress, and what they, that means is they are fully layered files that anybody could get on and work on. If I get hit by a bus, someone could come in and pick up the file, and not only that, my versioned folder, versions are versions that go to the client. My versions folders match my wip folder, and let me explain what I mean by that. So, I have this asset for Lisa Carney, it's number 006, opened three times. Let's say I've done some retouching, I've done some color, I've done, I'm gonna put that horrible threshold on it. I'm gonna save this as a wip. Creative Live folder, job folder, wip. I'm gonna shorten this name because it's so long, we don't need all that do we? And I hope you find this helpful. Wip1a, my first file, alright, and I'm workin', and I'm happy, and everything's cool. I'm gonna send it to the client. I, as a general rule, try to send flat files only to the client. As a general rule, I don't like 'em touching it, and as a cue to myself that it is flat, I tend to save it as a TIFF. Yes, I know, you can have a layered TIFF, but this is just a visual cue I have for saving my files. Now, let's take a look at what we have. First of all, we have the shot number. It's the same shot number in the wip, keep those numbers consistent. So, I have a layered wip file, I have a flat version that goes to the client, if I go to Tai Pei, and the client has a change, and I'm on vacation, anybody at my office can say, "Oh, which version did they sign off on, "Version One, Version Two, Version Three?" They look at the v, v1a, v2a, v3a, which version did they like? 'Cause you know clients do that right? You do five versions, and then they go back to the first one, and they say they want the first one instead. I have a fully layered wip file, which name corresponds to the flat file only it's a w, not a v, and that way, anybody can pick up my jobs anytime and they know they have a fully layered file. Cool? Now, did you hear me say fully layered file? So, what I mean by a fully layered file, let's say I'm working on a job and I realize that I've got way too much bleed on this file, and with all the corrections, it's become 12 gigs and it's just unmanageable, and I don't want that Raw still available, so I'm gonna merge something, and then, I'm gonna make this a base. Let's just say this is how this work file needs to go. I have now altered that first file, haven't I? In my world, in your world, chances are, you have got to be able to get all the way back to ground zero, just in case. So, I will now save this as a wip1b. Why is that a wip1b? It is a wip1b because it has not gone to the client yet, it's still version one, but I've permanently altered something, and if you come by and pick up that job later, and "Ah, we needed that bleed, you idiot. "Why did you crop it out?" Ain't no thing, open 1a, and you can get the bleed back, okay? This is especially important with color 'cause sometimes you guys are gonna do some color stuff and you're gonna apply it, and you're not gonna be able to undo it easily. Any time you've made a color move that you attach, that's merged with the layer, that is not reversible, please save it out as a wip, and move on to the next letter, cool? Awesome. Smart objects, so, let's just review for one second, 'cause this is smart object conversation. What we've covered in this section is we have made layers into smart objects either an individual layer, either an individual layer or some kinda composite. It doesn't matter, you can do this on a individual layer or merge a bunch of layers together and make it a smart object, and what you are able to do, then, is you're then able to access, for example, the Shadow/Highlights as a, a way of toning. It's great, I love it. The knee-jerk will be to go too fast. Pardon me, too heavy-handed on this. Okay, so your knee-jerk is gonna be to do too heavy. So, make sure you pull back, okay. Then, the second way we talked about smart filters, I'm gonna throw that one away. The second one, which I do like, be careful, Camera Raw. Doing color in Camera Raw, and why do I like it? I like it for that darn Orange slider right there. I just love that slider, there's a lot you can do with it. There's also a ton of other groovy things to do in Camera Raw. The only thing I would suggest is stay away from the retouching tools, stay away from the retouching tools in Camera Raw. I think they're a little too consumer for me, and know that you just definitely need to save that. You need to save that little, that little filter bug there. You can disable it here and do I wanna talk about anything else? You double-click, you can go back on it and you can change the opacity. Okay, so Camera Raw with smart objects, smart objects just for smart objects' sake, right, and workflow. We talked a little bit about workflow. We talked about the color for when you open up a Camera Raw file, and you've, you're in Camera Raw and you're selecting your color, you're gonna decide what you decide. Either grab it from the photographer giving it to you or you make a choice and then make sure you save out that XMP. Now in this one, this folder you see here, there's an XMP that came from the client, but if I save out in XMP, you wanna make sure you drop it in there and you can save out XMPs with special color corrections if you wanted. What does that mean? Let me show you. So, let's say we change the temperature of this piece. They want it to be kinda warm. Once again, Save Settings. Yes, everything checked. Thank you very much, we're happy about that. Go to your job folder and then call it, and then, this is where you have to be a little careful about where you stick it. Do you stick it in the assets from the client or do you put it in the wips or would you make another folder called special color correction? You gotta be a little careful about, about this and I would call it xmp to warm up ... After retouching. Call it whatever you need to to make it clear for yourself. Hit Okay ... And there it is. Do you see that? So I, depending on your job flow, I'd keep it in the wips because that's where the layered file would be, but that's me. You might want a separate folder special for that. I think it's important with color and adjustment layers, and all this, is to communicate, have your files talk to whoever's opening them. Okay, so by naming them whatever works for you guys.
I guess just to, since you're talking about some of the workflow, maybe just a couple questions. One was from Phil Johanis, who had said, "In general, are your, the colleagues, "the people who you are working with, "using Capture One as a Raw processor? "Is Lightroom used very much "versus Capture One in your business?"
Okay, excellent. Okay, boy, this is really a interesting question. My business ranges, I have a pretty big scope of what I do. So, what I mean by that is that I work direct with photographers and they use whatever system they use and I'll talk about that in a second, then I work for advertising agencies that hire photographers, and depending on the photographer, they have whatever system, and then, I work in entertainment, and in entertainment, the files come from everywhere under the sun. Okay, so, with photographers, I generally get a DNG file and it's generally Lightroom. There are photographers, because what they'll do is, I hope this makes sense, let's say you have a catalog job, and you shoot it and you deliver it to the client, chances are the client's not gonna pay for a full round of retouching on everything. So, the client, the photographer's already delivered a bunch of files, they're already processed, they already have a look, and then, there are a few images that need to be retouched, and then, I'll get those files. So, those are generally done in Lightroom, and they're generally done, exported with whatever XMP they're using. Client direct, so how would that happen? How would I get that from those clients? Oof, those are a little pickley. What I tend to find from advertising clients who shoot with photographers, is I get a RAW file and there's no XMP because the advertising client doesn't know to ask for it or doesn't know what it is, and so when the photos come, it's just literally a RAW with no, nothing. Nothing to go with it. So, I will ask if I could possibly get one 'cause clearly, there was some communication on color at some point, with someone. Entertainment is a nightmare. So, what will happen is, ugh, let me share my pain with you. Photographer A will shoot all these superheros and stars, I'm sorry, I'm just gonna have a sip of this while I'm talking to you, so Photographer A will shoot the Marvel people, for example, or the DC comic people, and they will deliver a huge batch of JPEGs already processed. The designers will then go and work with those and design six months, seven months, eight months design process, and finally someone, somewhere will sign off on comp number 1,759. Then, the photo editors have to gather those files. They have a JPEG, and they ask the photographers for the Raws, or the studios have the Raws. I assure you those Raw files have different numbers and names, then the JPEGs because when they out, when the photographer outputs 'em, they put different numbers on 'em, like job numbers and things like that, that the camera has not put on 'em. That's very joyful. Second of all, there is not an XMP to be found and however the photographer processed that original photo set, it's not included with the job that went to the studio, or if it was, whoever it went to the studio with doesn't know to keep it together. So, it's all together and that guy's in Tai Pei now, and you can't get a hold of him, so you're not gonna get that, and we have one night to do a movie poster and the colors exactly, exactly, exactly have to match whatever that comp was. How does that sound like for fun, right? So, as budding photographers out there, or folks working, please drive responsibly, put your XMP with your photos, with your Raws. Please, I beg of you. Cool?
Great, thank you.
Okay, good. The other option, work-around around that is to supply TIFFs that are, already processed TIFFs, high-res TIFFs.
What about the DNG? I mean, is that acceptable also?
Absolutely, because you can--
Equivalent to a TIFF?
Yes, because and I'm sorry, I don't have a acceptable file I could show that I could open, but if I've got a DNG from Lightroom, I can open that Camera Raw and all the codes are there, and I can save that XMP out. So, if you processed an image in Lightroom and you give me a DNG file, I can open that up, save out that setting, and then, you can give me a bunch of files that you haven't processed at all, but I've already got the code, and I can then apply the code. Excellent question. So, yes, Lightroom files, the DNGs are fantastic because all the code's in there. In fact, how I work with a photographer, one of my favorite photographers I work with, Dana Hursey, he will process his look. He'll get his, his creative look down that he wants. He will give me a Raw file with just the generic Raw capture that they did on set. I retouch on that, and then, he supplies me with a DNG of the look, the final look he wants, and I apply that on top on a smart object. So, that way, all the retouching's there, we can move the cups, the cows, the donkeys, the grass, the house, whatever's in there is all malleable, and then we can apply his final illustrated look on top, and he does it all in Lightroom, but because Lightroom and Photoshop can talk to each other that way, I can apply that look. Why that's important is some of those looks that you do in Lightroom might change how you retouch. So, rather than me just give him a retouch file and he applies his look, I want that look on it while I'm working on it, so I can see, for example, if the skin's getting a little too pickley and crunchy with the illustrated look, I need to over-retouch it for that particular look.