Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Color Charts

Just went to my first "real" telecine/CC session for a project shot on 16mm.

I was told by the colorist that it helps them alot to shoot a color chart before each lighting setup, so Im looking for a nice, neat, functional chart that is suited for film applications as well as any future digital projects.
Any recommendations?


Terence Chu

I like the Gamma and Density chart a lot and highly recommend it.

Jessica Gallant
Los Angeles based Director of Photography
West Coast Systems Administrator, Cinematography Mailing List

I'll second Jessica's endorsement of the Gamma and Density chart - and
at the risk of sounding like a total twit, if you bring the chart into the telecine session, you can show the colorist EXACTLY what you shot.

It has a one stop gray scale as well as a half stop grayscale which I find useful to see where I am losing detail when over or underexposing during film stock tests.

I used it in a rather interesting job where I had to match HD colorspace and scanned motion picture neg colorspace as well as possible in a compositing program

Frankly, I find it more useful than shooting a MacBeth, though I try to do that also

Mark Weingartner
LA based VFX

Mark Weingartner writes :

>Frankly, I find it more useful than shooting a MacBeth

So do I but my G&D chart is dying of old age and overuse.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based


I always like to give options, and as a fellow student I know price is a factor.

1/. (cheapest option, FREE) You are in LA. Go to Fuji (they are on N. Highland). Talk with the rep about different film stocks, ask for a sample DVD. As an afterthought ask if he has a colorchart. If they are in stock you will get a basic chart (CYM, RGB, and full stop greyscale) for FREE. (this was my first, and I still have it for a backup).

2/. (About $70-$80) GretagMacbeth ColorChecker. Available at Filmtools, StudioDepot, Samy's, etc... This is the Army Jeep of colorcharts. It has been everywhere, done everything, and keeps on working. A friend of mine has had his since the MR T. show.

3/. (Most Expensive $100-$1000) DSC Labs ColorCharts. These are a combination registration card and colorchart. Their color fades with time so they have a listed epiration date. The cheapest version is the pocket camalign (about the size of a 4x6 photo).

Personally I use my Macbeth now. It's a frellin' tank.

Hope that helps

Matt Efsic

"Will work for T-shirts (money works too)"
Grip/Gaffer/AC/Camera/DP - Student Brook's Institute of Photography
Ventura, CA

In addition to the many fine suggestions here I would like to add my $.0298 (that's $.02 adjusted for inflation).

The MacBeth is ok, but is primarily designed for reproduction and still photography, and is most helpful when the colorist has the chart in the room. Many of the colors are very subjective. FotoKem used to have a good RGB CYM as well as a grey scale you could get for free from the will call counter. Kodak used to have one that was specifically for print reproduction that many folks used for film, not a good choice at all. It was calibrated for process ink colors,and had a glossy finish that flared all over the place.

Many colorists prefer a gray scale with no color at all. There is a great video chart that works wonders for film too. It is a log grey scale. It has an 18% grey background and two grey scales on the top and bottom. One goes from black to white and the other from white to black. There is also a black velvet patch for black black. When you set up the scope there are two sets of steps that intersect in an X shaped pattern. By adjusting for neutral grey with no color bias and setting up the luminance, gamma and black to peg the steps in the proper positions, you get a very accurate place to start. Available at Birns and Sawyer in LA.

You can also use just a plain 18% grey card with white and black patches. Again, by eliminating all color bias, you should get fairly true color rendition. Just make sure the chart, which ever one you use is photographed under the same lighting conditions as you shoot, is properly exposed and fills as much of the frame as possible.


Ed Colman, President ­ SuperDailies, Inc.
Cinematographer Supervised Video Dailies

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