In the last issue of Profiles, I promised an update on my quest for a Uniform
Standard for setting up broadcast field cameras. Well, after nearly a thousand camera setups, I
have achieved a Uniform Standard that has been field tested by hundreds of network and high-end
videographers throughout the country. My goal was to develop a setup that would eliminate the
hassles of multi-camera matching required by network news and magazine shows and provide the best
overall picture quality.
With the use of the DSC Labs "Optical Signal Generator" (OSG), it is now possible to set up
individual cameras to a single set of parameters and have them match. This chart, designed to
SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) specifications, allows for alignments
that result in near-perfect color reproduction. To complete the Standard, use of DSC's Combi2
chart allows for repeatable picture detail alignments.
With the help of these tools, and after proper setup of basic camera parameters, I documented the
factory preset colorimetry by marking vectorscope overlays for every broadcast field camera that
came through the shop. What I found was that all cameras had less than true color saturation,
especially green and cyan. To add to the difficulty, some cameras, with limited range could not
obtain full colorimetry. In spite of these constraints, I was able to achieve a vectorscope overlay
that allowed near true color reproduction with all colors except green and cyan , which I set at a
point between factory preset and SMPTE specifications.
The "Macie Uniform Standard" has been field tested on several hundred cameras for about a year.
Resultant feedback has been totally positive from crews using this operational standard. Not only
do they like the look, but show producers have begun to request crews that use this Standard.
Network management has also become interested in this new concept because of years of frustration
getting just their own cameras to match, never mind hundreds of freelance crews. Prior to this OSG
and Uniform Standard, it was virtually impossible to match cameras independently.
Videographers, networks, TV stations, rental and production facilities, can all benefit from a
proven multi-camera matching standard that not only make colors more vibrant and true, but provides
for more consistent, pleasing setting of detail level. This uniform standard is also the best
starting place for creating a special "LOOK" with lighting, lens filtration or with the newer
digital cameras that use either scene files or setup cards.
A small investment in proper camera setup pays large dividends, improving the quality of your life
and those you shoot for.