Color Management using Spyder Checkr in DaVinci Resolve Studio

Finding a perfect white balance. Matching the colors across several cameras. Achieving correct skin tones. Anyone who works in the video or photo sector is familiar with these challenges. But now there’s a simple solution – in DaVinci Resolve, you can use Spyder Checkr to apply corrections quickly and easily, speeding up your workflow.

 

Imagine filming an interview – in order to be able to switch between several perspectives later on while cutting, you use three different cameras, each of them equipped with a different sensor. Even if you adjust the white balance and tint in the camera settings and set them exactly the same for all cameras, each sensor reproduces skin tones slightly differently. This is because each camera has a different color profile.

 

A camera’s preset color behavior depends on the manufacturer and differs among camera brands. This makes it difficult and time-consuming to adjust the colors in post-production, adding unnecessary stress, particularly with tight deadline projects. However, if you hold Spyder Checkr in front of the interviewee in the camera at the beginning of the shoot, you’ll be able to adjust the different cameras and their color profiles with just a few clicks in DaVinci Resolve afterwards.

 

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k (BMPCC4K)

Panasonic Lumix G7

 

Let’s assume you have successfully completed the shoot and are now in post-production. To adjust the images of the different cameras to match each other, you can either use the scopes or edit the colors visually. While these options work up to a point, it’s important to keep in mind that various sensors sometimes display colors differently.

 

This is exactly when to include your previous recording using Spyder Checkr. It’s also possible to manually adjust colors, but I would recommend using the Color Match Tool in DaVinci Resolve to get a more accurate and faster result. You’ll find the tool in the Color tab, within the color editing area of Resolve.

 

The Color tab offers all possibilities to optimize the color of an image, so that it comes as close to reality as possible. The Color Match Tool takes this time-consuming optimization task off your hands. Simply select the Color Match Tool in the different tabs to match the image.

 

Once you’ve selected the tool, a color chart is displayed (see below). From there, you can select the Datacolor SpyderCheckr 24 color chart. It should show the same colors as our chart in the picture.

 

Select Color Chart Tool

 

Once the correct color chart is selected, the next step is to simply adjust the grid to match the chart in the image. To do this, you can position the various corner points using the mouse so that they match the chart in the image. You should make sure that each small square of the Chart Tool encloses the complete color array from the color palette, otherwise discrepancies may occur. Once the chart is placed correctly in the image, your footage can be adjusted automatically.

 

Select correct Source Gamma, Target Gamma and Target Color Space

 

Example: In this case, the footage of two different cameras has to be adjusted. The cameras record in different gammas. The first camera records in “Blackmagic Design 4K Film”, the second camera records in “Rec. 709.” The goal is to match the color of both clips in such a way that it is possible to switch between the two cameras without any problems during editing. Source Gamma is the starting point that we defined in the camera. This can have different names depending on the camera manufacturer. With Canon it can be “Canon Log,” with Sony, “S-Log” and with Arri, “Arri Log C.” In this example, “Blackmagic Design 4K Film” is the source gamma of the BMPCC4K. The Panasonic G7 (the second camera) has no special source gamma in my case, and films in “Rec. 709.”

 

The target gamma is what we’re aiming for. Blackmagic Design 4K Film is converted from its Source Gamma (Blackmagic Design 4K Film) to the Target Gamma (Rec. 709). With the settings Target Gamma and Target Color Space, it is also possible to work in other Color Spaces like Aces.

 

In this example, however, a good result should be achieved as quickly as possible, which is why “Rec. 709” is chosen for both.

 

Adjustment of Panasonic Lumix G7

 

For the second camera, everything is a bit easier, since it was recorded in “Rec. 709” and the target is also “Rec. 709.” The Color Chart has standardized colors, which are stored in DaVinci Resolve, so if you match your footage of “Rec. 709” with “Rec. 709”, all colors from your color chart will still be adjusted. This ensures that red tones are the correct red, blue tones the correct blue, and green tones match the correct green. In addition, a white balance is also performed and the contrast is adjusted.

 

White balance is incorrectly set in camera.

White balance corrected using the Color Match Tool.

 

At this stage of color editing, you should already have a fairly well-matched image in front of you. In my case, the Panasonic’s image was slightly brighter than the Blackmagic’s, but you can easily fix this problem by using the color wheels to pull the gain down a little and adjust the brightness. In our example, the color management is now done.

 

Adjusting the brightness on a new node

Comparison of the two images without further modification.

 

Next, you can now use the adjusted footage as a good starting point to continue grading as well as adding your own creative touch.

 

Another very helpful feature of the Spyder Checkrs24 is the gray card on the left side. It allows to correctly expose the picture directly in the camera. In this example, False Colors is used. Thus, the brightness values are displayed on the camera screen in different colors. The large gray area, also called medium gray or 18% gray, is marked green in the camera as soon as it corresponds to about 40 IRE. This provides you with a reference value that you can use as a guide to correctly adjust the exposure of your image. It is important that you position the gray card in the exact place of the subject in order to expose it correctly.

 

False Color Tool in the camera (Green = Medium Gray)

Image exposed according to the color chart.

 

All in all, the Spyder Checkr, in combination with DaVinci Resolve, offers a very good way to make accurate color corrections and adjustments quickly and easily. In just a few clicks, you can adjust the different color values of your cameras in Resolve to get a perfect starting point for your grading. The gray card is also great for white balance and makes it easy to achieve beautiful skin tones. The Spyder Checkr has found its way into my backpack.

 

 
 

About the Author – Marco Schreiber

 

Marco Schreiber

 

Marco Schreiber is a freelance cameraman, media designer and YouTuber. On his channel, he deals with the topics of technology, film, video editing and processing and helps with tips and tricks from his own experience, DaVinci Resolve tutorials or Gear recommendations to all who are interested in the topic of video.