Attention Filmmakers: Stop Using Your Histogram… Incorrectly

A few month’s ago we posted a couple of informative videos on understanding your histogram, what it is and why you should use it to capture better still images. Well, here are a couple more videos for you by Indie Cinema Academy urging filmmakers to stop using their histograms…. incorrectly, of course. It’s host, Ryan E. Walters, explains that when it comes to video, judging your exposure solely on the information given by your histogram chart, can pose a real problem for filmmakers. The main reason he points out is that you’re typically moving around from shot to shot and if you are depending on your histogram to tell you whether or not your image is “properly exposed”, it will create inconsistencies in your over film when you bring the footage together in post. For example, a wide shot is likely to have more highlight information than a closeup.

So how do you solve this dilemma? Ryan suggests using an 18% gray card along with your histogram to help expose your footage from shot to shot. By placing it “in your key light to where it’s as evenly lit as possible” you can use your histogram as a tool to “maintain consistent results” without damaging your artistic vision throughout your film.

What do you think of this technique? Do you have an interesting and helpful tip for our readers with regard to using the histogram during a shoot? If you do, share them with us in the comments section below.

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