TRIED & TESTED DATACOLOR SPYDER CHECKR VIDEO WORDS Adam Duckworth
A ccurate colours are the bane of many filmmakers’ lives, especially in indie production companies where one person often does many jobs. Even if you have the luxury of an editor or colourist, these talented professionals still need some sort of reference to ensure all the colours match between cameras and lenses, in different lighting conditions and on different days. Consistency is key. Big-budget productions will often shoot a colour card before every take, usually held in front of the talent in the same light while ensuring there are no reflections or flares. For many owner-operators, it’s an added step of complexity when time is of the essence. Carrying a full-size colour chart and remembering to use it every time there is a scene or lighting change can be a big ask when there’s so much else to do. Even if you realise it will make post- production workflows more efficient. So Datacolor has launched its own pocket-size tool to encourage filmmakers to actually carry one at all times and make the most of it. The Spyder Checkr Video is a set of target cards held inside a light and compact plastic case which you can even wear around your neck on a lanyard. The case is designed to fit comfortably in the hand while preventing fingers from casting shadows on the cards. Our test version
was slightly difficult to open and it felt like there was a danger of breaking the hinges. Reassuringly though, it didn't fail during the test. Inside the case are five high-gloss video target cards. There’s a 22-step gradient greyscale card, 18% grey card for white-balance, focus star card and choice of two colour cards. Included is a Color Pattern Card with 12 colour patches of six specific hues in two saturation levels, one at 100% and another at 75% on a vectorscope. There are also black, grey and white patches plus six skin tone patches. The only difference between the colour targets is how they display on a vectorscope, so you can choose which works for you.
Datacolor claims these high- gloss cards provide more saturated colour, wider colour gamut and easier identification of flare. We found that, in bright light, there could be significant flare – but it’s easy to spot. Sometimes odd speckles could appear on the colour patches in direct, hard light. But it’s easy to see this on the scope so you can fast- forward to a different point in the clip. Similar products can be linked to specific software used as a plug-in on your editing program, which guide you through a specific workflow. Instead of that, the Datacolor Spyder Checkr Video is compatible with standard vectorscopes and waveform displays in pro video editing applications such as DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. We tried it in Final Cut Pro, which involves making a quick mask so that just the chart is viewable, before using vectorscope and waveforms. The pattern card creates patterns of all the colours being captured – not just primary and secondary hues. Then, if you have a basic grasp of what you are doing, it’s easy to make adjustments to deliver natural, neutral colours that always match. For £139/$130, it’s a great product that can make a big difference to your footage and speed up your workflow.
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