The Perfect Pin Tool - Part 1

Curvemeister pins are like a memory bank for colors. Discuss techniques and applications for pins. Find out about new pin files here!
mikemeister_admin
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Postby mikemeister_admin » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:26 pm

I just spent some spare time and money over several weeks making my own tool to quickly and easily get good color pins in my photos and videos. My NLE video editing software (Sony Vegas Pro 8) uses color correction for the highs, mids, and lows. This is pretty normal for NLEs. It's not as easy as CM in Photoshop and I miss it.

I got some Golden paint in neutral gray N5: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/color/heavybody/colors/1445infopg.php

I also got some of the matt heavy body acrylics in Carbon Black and Titanium White: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/color/heavybody/mattehb.php

They turned out to be just a bit heavy for painting things. The thick paint leaves brush strokes in it that make for uneven pinning. I had to mix it with the medium and some water to get it thin enough to paint smooth. In hindsight I would get the black and white in this in the future: http://www.goldenpaints.com/products/color/fluid/matfld1.php

As a test, I painted the inside of some oatmeal lids. I glued strips of thin leather between them so they fold up and transport easily. It works pretty well, but I've only done a little testing. It makes it easy to pin the highlights, shadows, and neutral in any kind of lighting. So far I'm very happy with this and a  I was going to do a full report. Until...

mikemeister_admin
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Postby mikemeister_admin » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:36 pm

Today I got a news item on the perfect pinning tool: http://spyder.datacolor.com/product-cb-SpyderCube.php#

This has everything I'm looking for and more. It has the neutral middle gray, the white, the shadow black, and deep black. It even has specular highlight in the chrome ball. It can hang or stand up on just about anything. Something flat would fit in my camera bags a bit easier, but this is small enough that it shouldn't be a problem in just about any bag.

I guess the only thing I don't like is the $59 price. Oh, I know I'm going to buy it anyway; I've been looking for this for awhile now. With CM or even in my NLE, this will make color and exposure correction a snap for any lighting. Before I test it, it sure looks like the perfect compliment to CM.

Thanks,
Clyde

mikemeister_admin
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Postby mikemeister_admin » Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:17 pm

I should have told you that you can get free shipping. Just put "CUBENEWS" into the coupon code when you are ordering and you will get that $15 discounted. Sorry about that - if you've already ordered. Oh, that's only good until April 30th.

I've ordered mine. It's due to ship 03/30/09. The order form says "Country of Origin: China". I don't know if that is just where it was made or if it's being shipped from there. We'll see.

Clyde

ggroess
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Postby ggroess » Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:23 pm

yikes..!

Don't go licking the paint Clyde...

mikemeister_admin
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Postby mikemeister_admin » Fri Apr 03, 2009 4:06 pm

I got my SpyderCube yesterday and ran a quick test today.

A couple of notes:

* It is pretty small. The cube sides only measure 1.5". It shouldn't be any trouble carrying. It also comes with a nice soft carrying bag. However the specular highlight is pretty small.

* The stand has a female tripod mount in it.

* The absolute black spot is really a hole to the hollow inside. The whole inside appears to be in some flat black paint. It really does stay black at any angle.

Here is my test file:

http://lugh-clyde.home.comcast.net/pictures/Clyde's_Color_Test.psd

I left the layers in a Photoshop file so you can play with it too. If you want the pins for the Golden paints, they are here:

http://lugh-clyde.home.comcast.net/pictures/Other.txt

OK, there is also a pin to a Pantone thumbdrive that I have.

Keep in mind that I shot these all in JPEG; that is all the Canon HV-20 will do in still photo mode. My experience with JPEG capture is that you can't quite get all your colors as accurate. If you pin all those B-M paint chips, it just doesn't look right. For JPEG capture, you need as few pins as possible. Otherwise, the curve gets too crazy and the colors go off. That's one reason why I'm trying to work with just a black, white, and neutral gray. That's also why the pinning in the lower right has off colors in the paint chips.

I really like it so far. I think this will be the perfect pinning tool. Well, for me anyway. I'll edit my video test tomorrow.

Clyde

mikemeister_admin
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Postby mikemeister_admin » Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:24 pm

Since I did say I would be doing the video testing and some of you might actually care, I thought I had better report on the video test of SpyderCube.

I shot the same thing as I did in the still test. I didn't even move the camera. So, it's the same stuff and the same lighting. It's the same camera too, just in video mode rather than still mode. Keep in mind that this is a video camera that shoots still. Video is what it's good at. I shot in 1080/24p, but rendered it in 720/24p to keep the size down. OK, 50 MB doesn't seem small by still photography standards, but it is very small by video standards. Here's the video - in WMV format:

http://lugh-clyde.home.comcast.net/pictures/Color.wmv

Color correction, like everything else, in video editing is very different than in Photoshop. For one, there is no Curvemeister to make it quick and easy. I'm spoiled by CM. That has led me to do all this to see how quick and easy I can get color correction done in Vegas Pro 8. Like most full featured non-linear editing (NLE) tools, Vegas has a video FX "filter" called "Color Corrector". Opening it up shows 3 color wheels and a few sliders. There is a color wheel for the lows, mids, and the highs. The hue is controlled by the angle on the 360 degree wheel. The saturation is controlled by the magnitude - or distance out from the center. This allows you to adjust the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights separately. Well, there is overlap, but it is pretty flexible. Vegas has 2 dropper buttons for each wheel. One allows you to select the adjustment color you want to work with and the other lets you select it's complimentary color that is 180 degrees off from the color you select.

I applied the Color Corrector to each event. [Vegas' term for a clip or any chunk of stuff in your project.] Then I clicked on the complimentary eyedropper button for the lows and clicked on the black part of the SpyderCube. I used the gray that was aimed at the primary light for the mids. I used the white aimed at that light for the highs. This is shown in the middle section of the video. The last third of the video shows how I did the same for the 3 Golden paints.

For purposes of testing only one thing at a time, I did not apply any levels or curves to this. Brightness is not handled by the Color Corrector tool in NLEs. That's a different process not covered in this test.

Both the SpyderCube and Golden paints work very well. They gave me excellent colors across the whole color range in both still photography in Photoshop/CM and my video with Vegas Pro. I used Golden paints because they give the Lab numbers for all their paints on their Web site. They are very good paints, but aren't the cheapest artist paints you can buy. After buying them, you have to come up with something to paint that is easy and practical to carry wherever you photograph. You also have to get them as smooth and flat as you possibly can. I was never able to get them as smooth and flat as SpyderCube. I probably spent as much on the paints as I did on the SpyderCube too. (No art supply store in the Western suburbs of Chicago had the matt versions of these, so I had to order online from Dick Bickle with the shipping cost incurred.)

The SpyderCube gives me the small, smooth, durable, versatile, and practical tool that I've been looking for. The format is as perfect as I can imagine; more so than I could dream up to slap Golden paint on. The colors are embedded in the plastic and seem spot-on for neutrality. It even has things I never dreamed of, like the chrome ball and the absolute black hole that really works.

My only very slight grumble would be in it's size. Yes, that is one of it's major pros too. However, if the item being shot is large, far away, AND in a different light than the camera, getting the SpyderCube way out there in that light will be a bit of a problem. Getting it way out there makes it too small to pin properly. Well, I still do have those painted oatmeal lids that I can dig out for that. However, 99% of my shooting the SpyderCube will do just fine.

I'm happy as a clam about this and highly recommend the SpyderCube for anyone using Curvemeister (or anything) for fast, easy, accurate color correction.

Thanks,
Clyde

-default
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Postby -default » Wed May 06, 2009 11:40 am

Thanks, Clyde.  I'd like to see some of your images, and perhaps suggestions for ways that Curvemeister could work better with the SpyderCube.

-default
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Postby -default » Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:25 am

Clyde has provided us with a video that shows how the spyder cube can be used in a variety of situations.  This was featured in the June 2009 newsletter.  Here are links to higher quality versions of the videos, again kindly provided by Clyde. 

I found that on my system, the second link, to the mov file, opened directly in FireFox as a streaming video, and did not require a second download.

http://lugh-clyde.home.comcast.net/pictures/SpyderCube_CM_Test.wmv

http://lugh-clyde.home.comcast.net/pictures/SpyderCube_CM_Test.mov

Many thanks.


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