Softening Faces and Skin Tone.

XDCAM cameras have Sony’s Skin Tone Detail Correction system included in the picture profiles. By turning this on you can point the camera at a face (or any other coloured object) and select the hue you want to treat. By using the phase and saturation controls you can adjust the exact hue and hue range that will be treated. Then you can turn the detail level up and down for the selected range.

It works but is a little fiddly to set. I don’t normally use it, instead preferring to shoot with slightly reduce detail level settings overall and then adding a diffusion filter in post production using Magic Bullet or similar. Another option would be to use a diffusion filter or similar on the camera, I like the Tiffen Gold Diffusion/FX for faces. If your budget won’t stretch to that then don’t forget that you can always stretch a very fine mess net over the lens such as a stocking for a pleasing diffusion effect. Again tricky to get just right, if the mesh is too big you’ll see it, too small and you completely blur the image.

2 thoughts on “Softening Faces and Skin Tone.”

  1. My production facility is managed by someone who subscribes to the philosophy that less fiddling with the image “in camera” is better. Opting instead to rely more on the tweaks that can be made in post where you always have an “undo” option. So, when it comes to things like diffusion filters, matrix and detail level controls, he’d prefer that I leave that to the editor.
    It raises the interesting discussion of when in the process is the best time to fine tune the image. I have prefs and certain looks that I prefer in certain situations and I cannot guarantee the editor will have the time or inclination to make any changes at all.

    What are your thoughst?

    1. It’s a hard one.

      There are advantages to both. Doing it in camera allows you to truly work with light. Filters will bend light and introduce light that may not be visible without them, however it’s very difficult to undo. In post you can’t really add light, but you can modify the image to simulate the addition of light. Software is getting better and better and the electronic filters are very effective. These days I don’t use much on camera diffusion, I tend to do that in post. I do believe in getting the colours in my images close to whats needed in the end production as any manipulation of the image will increase noise levels and other un-desireable artefacts. I also believe that by presenting the editor with a consistent image that is close to what is desired in the final production really helps the editor (or colourist) to get an even grade.

      So at the end of the day I try to produce a consistent image that is as close as possible to what is desired at the end of the production, but without ever crushing blacks or overexposing highlights so that the final tweaks can be done in post.

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