Sam Cooke: Crossing Over

This week the PBS series American Masters premiered my client John Antonelli’s 12-year labor of love about the great singer Sam Cooke. My work with the director of photography Jim Iacona illustrates a concept in color finishing: color compositing. The idea is a cross of the color correction and effects compositing disciplines. Working in a Final Cut Pro timeline affords new opportunities for the color finisher to work with a DP to further the look of the show. Jim asked for re-lighting of interviews and targeted diffusion of the highlights. We were able to achieve Jim’s aims using multiple layer compositing, mixing diffused highlights, secondary color correction keys, and darkening and brightening isolated zones. These tasks can be accomplished in telecine style color grading but the process is constrained by hardware limits with a fixed number of windows, keys, and buses.
Additionally, the Sam Cooke project required noise reduction in places. A useful plugin for the reduction of temporal, chromatic, and spatial video noise is the Nattress Big Box of Tricks, well worth the purchase to augment the capability of Final Cut Pro.

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