The human eye sends visual information to the brain for processing. Even though light and other stimuli comes through the eye, the brain is what makes sense of it all. How does this impact color correction? In this video, author Robbie Carman discusses how the psychology of seeing influences the color correction process.
- It's really to assume that when somebody says, "Seeing something", that your eyes are responsible for that seeing. That's only partially true. Light comes into the front of your eyes and hits the rods and cones in the back of your eyes, but that information is eventually passed off to your brain. And your brain interprets and processes all the visual stimuli that you see every single day, whether you are aware of that stimuli or not. And the cool thing about seeing is that your brain is doing all the work.
In other words, your brain is actually processing information and forming learned experiences. What do I mean by learned experiences? Well your brain can't see something, and you can't see something new for the first time, every single day. Could you imagine walking outside and going, "Wow the sky, it's blue! "Wow, the grass is green!" You would waste a lot of time during your day. But if somebody were to ask you, "What color is the sky?" You would say, "Blue." If somebody said, "What color is grass?" You'd probably say, "Green." Brick, you'd say, "Orangy red." Why do you say those things? Well you say those things because your brain over your entire life, has learned from what you've seen and has stored them up here.
There's actually a color-science term for it and that's called a memory color. But the concept is that we remember what things should look like, not so much see them brand new every single day. And there's a good sort of evolutionary reason for this. Over the millennia, we've learned to kind of figure out different situations, and what they mean from a contrast and color point of view. For example, we can easily kind of figure out what time of day it is from the visual cues that we have in a scene. Whether a scene is supposed to be friendly or frightening.
We can also use cues like this to figure out if something is safe or unsafe. Think about a horror movie, what color is it usually? It's usually pretty dark, kind of blue. Those visual cues kinds of give the average viewer a sense of fright and of terror of what's about to happen. Think about a romantic comedy, what colors are used in there? Generally pretty bright, saturated colors that give us the feeling of being safe, friendly, and inviting. So the thing about it is our brains tend to remember colors in situations like this at a heightened sense of reality.
I'll give ya a little story. Years ago I went to Waikiki Beach in Hawaii with my parents and I remember the beach being so kind of golden yellow sand and the water being so blue. Years later I went to that same beach with my own kids and I got there, I was pretty disappointed about what I saw. Sure, it could be just the passage of time, but what was really at play? The way my mind was remembering that scene. I had remembered that beach at a heightened state of reality. Now there's another concept that I want to talk about in this movie, and that's the idea of visual adaptation.
Adaptation is sort of adjusting to what could be true. And our brains do this very quickly. For the average person it's usually about 30 to 45 seconds. And a good way of thinking about adaptation is with something that's white or something that's saturated. If you look at your phone for example in its night shift mode, when you first turn it on, it seems very, very yellow right? Well if you look at that screen for a little bit of time, just about 30 to 45 seconds, maybe a minute, soon that yellow screen that seemed really yellow when you first turned on night shift mode, now seems to be pretty white.
That is your brain adapting to what could be true. It's not white, but your brain has thought that it is because you've been looking at it. Same thing is true with saturation. If you look at something that's very saturated for a little while, sooner or later your brain will go, "Ah, that's not that saturated." And if you put this in the context of color correction, both with white and saturation, you could be making a lot of mistakes that are not really true qualities of what the footage you're working with is. And adaptation effects everything that we do in color correction, brightness, colors, saturation, texture, movement, all of that kind of stuff.
One of the ways that you can get better at color correction is by avoiding visual adaptation. If you walk into a professional color suite and look at a professional colorist, their head is always on a swivel. They're looking at their computer monitors. They're looking at their reference monitor. They're looking back at the client. They're never staring at something for very long. I know this sounds kind of counter-intuitive but the longer you look at something the worse you will make it. Color correction is a really hard task as it is. Don't make it any harder.
We need to understand that if the longer we look at something, our eyes will adapt to it. And when our eyes adapt to it, we're no longer making good choices about what we need to do with that shot. So hopefully now you better understand how our brain kind of remembers things, and also this concept of visual adaptation. And I'll talk more about adaptation a little bit later in this title, and give you some practical ways to avoid it.
- How people see
- Creatively and technically evaluating a project
- Interpreting your client's direction for a project
- Estimating how long a project will take
- Six stages that happen in a color correction workflow
- Timeline level grading
- Building a correction and look toolkit