Split-Toning

Split-toning is a characteristic of film stocks where you’ll see cool shadows and warm highlights adding color contrast to the image. This is accomplished by un-ganging the channels and adding a few pixels of blue and green to the shadows, a tiny bit of red and green to the highlights. Once you’ve made your adjustments to the curve, you can finesse them with the sliders to the right. Just remember, 50 represents zero – for example, moving the red slider to the left of 50 begins to add cyan.

It may seem trivial, but split-toning is the single most important ingredient toward creating a look; and the image will be perceived as more colorful and less video-ish than dialing in more saturation. The look can be further refined by nudging yellow a bit toward orange, green toward teal-green and red toward orange in Hue vs. Hue; adjusting the saturation of each color in the Hue vs. Sat curves; and reducing saturation in the upper midtones and highlights in the Sat vs. Sat curves.

Regarding the video, we’re not seeing the dreaded hue shifts or oversaturation Google warns about on their YouTube help page, but neither are we seeing any difference between HDR Rec.2020 and HDR P3. The biggest improvements we’re seeing in image quality are due to (1) switching to video levels from full data levels and (2) ditching the ColorChecker. And when using Final Cut Pro, selecting slower (higher quality) rather than faster encoding for HEVC 10, which we may start doing in DaVinci as well.

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