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Neon Genesis Evangelion – Color Correcting the Director’s Cut Episodes

Posted by sephirotic em abril 26, 2016

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Neon Genesis Evangelion: An article about color correcting the hideous Renewal’s Episode 19 BD.

Posted by sephirotic em outubro 11, 2015

Here is a little case study for my color correction of Evangelion Episode’s 19:

I took the idea about actually talking about the process of editing this episode from RX782’s blog. thanks a lot to him.

The  biggest issue regarding episode 19 that made me want to color correct individual scenes is that the color cast and contrast issues are not consistent. A single half second shot may look good  but the following frames become completely dark and underexposed. This can be seen, for example, on these individual frames from follow up shots:

02

Similar color discrepancies can be seen on follow up scenes too, take a look on Shinji’s face and his shirt’s shades on these screenshots from the BD:

03

BD

Difficult to believe these shots were colored by the same team and for the same episode as they are shown 3 seconds apart, the original broadcast also has this issue but the color balance at least remained the same for the two shots:

04

Broadcast

But even so, the original broadcast version also has some minor exposition issues, notably Eva Unit 01 regenerating her arm like the first picture above, the shot looks considerable darker than the previous one, I suspect mainly due to the “blur” effect that was added for the scene

Compared to other episodes that reuses these same cells or have similar shots the issues become very clear as being cronical to episode 19. As a matter of fact, episode 19 looks the worse from all the episodes on the BD (with the exception of 16, of course).

It’s also important to note that all color and exposition issues from the BD appear identical on the original DVD remaster from 2003.

I believe this has something to do with several animation issues that have been fixed from the original broadcast version, as can be seen here:

Animation Fixes

I wonder how these corrections were originally made, but I suspect a new master film was created after such corrections and this new master wasn’t properly exposed like other episodes that look miles better. Then the episode 19 BD was made from this same new film master from the 2003 renewal.

Speaking of which, the more cell layers are used for composing a scene, the darker it’ll look by the way, this can be seen on two follow up scenes of Asuka shooting zeruel further bellow.

The first scene has at least two extra cell layers for the explosion and the bullet tracers from Unit 02, but the next scene omits these two extra layers, thus it becomes clearly slightly lighter. This is also present on the original broadcast.

Such overlay issues are inherently to full analogical animation with no digital balance, as it’s difficult to compensate the exposition by just increasing the amount of light of the capture machine, sometimes even if correcting the exposure is indeed possible by controlling the light source, the colors may be off since the cells not only aren’t perfectly transparent, but they may filter some color wavelength to pass slighter easier than others. There is a notable example of that on episode 01, the moment the extra layer for the exhaust fumes of the missile are added on the composition, the Airplane becomes slightly lighter and more yellowish.

Those two scenes can be better noticed with diff.pics:

http://diff.pics/FgpLJcFoL86W/2

(Also is fun to note the cell shadow casting as the whole composition becomes thicker)

Talking about episode 01, lets take a look at two extra shots from episode 01 that also appears on episode 19

05

As we can see, both look darker, on the second one there is an excessive contrast and the trucks don’t look as green as they are supposed to.

Still on the subject of lightning issue of composition cell animation, there is one thing that I suspect is partially the cause of some over dark scenes. I noted that on the original broadcast which had a much better exposition, the light flashes from explosions tended to clip from overexposure more often than on the Renewal’s version.  So, they probably choose to reduce the clipping on the flashes from explosion blast in the expense of making everything else looks darker, which kinda of seen foolish, after all, explosion flashes are fast single frame shots supposed to look “blinding” anyway.

The original broadcast pre-renewal version has a very uniform color and almost none of the mentioned exposure or tints whatsoever, well of course, if you exclude the homogeneous yellow color tint that plagues ALL SCENES and ALL episodes from the original masters. I’ve been told by RX782 that In the original RENEWAL information booklet that came with the BD’s, that Anno has specifically stated that he wanted a color identical to the Renewal’s remaster and that this may be the  main issue for episode 1 and 2 looking yellow-greenish. But I suspect that episode 19, as was remastered for the renewal, had some several quality check issues too.

In anyway, I decided to color adjust exposition and color correction for these scenes and managed to do so without increasing the clipping on (most scenes) by creating some non linear curve profiles or to pull up just unbalanced color channels such as this:

bandicam 2015-10-10 21-08-50-063

For one particular scene, of Eva Unit 02 firing the rocket launchers, having a single curve would not work to avoid clipping, so I actually did a frame-by-frame correction with a reduced boost of luminance on the flashing scenes. This was the only extreme situation were I actually level-corrected individual frames to avoid clipping.

bandicam 2015-10-10 21-11-42-965 bandicam 2015-10-10 21-11-35-084

Talking about color now, lets take a look at some examples of incosistent color casts throughout the episode:

Some examples of different color casts can be seen here:

Very strong blue cast,

Trailer V2 splited.mkv_snapshot_00.28_[2015.10.10_21.14.02]

Yellow cast

Trailer V2 splited.mkv_snapshot_00.21_[2015.10.10_21.16.02]

Greenish  cast

Trailer V2 splited.mkv_snapshot_00.17_[2015.10.10_21.13.27]

Reddish Cast

Trailer V2 splited.mkv_snapshot_00.30_[2015.10.10_21.14.16]

Usually the most common color cast in Eva is the yellowish, but episode 19 has some pretty weird strong blue cast on some scenes as well as some greenish and reddish too, pretty much a full rainbow of colors.

I’m usually against messing with color grading of original movies and animation, usually an uniform color cast is the (photography) director’s choice. Notably the green cast on Th Matrix to represent the scenes were they are plugged in. Some people don’t like that extreme color cast, but that is a creative choice of the director and we shouldn’t be entitled to change it.

However, I don’t believe this rainbow clusterfuck of colors are a director’s choice, mainly because color grading in animation usually only affect midtones, not highlights or are done in the coloring process, and thus shouldn’t affect the WHOLE balance of the picture. And how can you know that highlights are affected? Simple, by looking at white balance on the eyes.
Take a look of some examples on the color-wheel bellow.

Now, color correcting anime is much easier than live-action video, because as a start point, you can pick up the white point of the eye as they are 99% of the time colored with “pure” white paint and this would usually adjust the colors in the whole scene.

Initially I mostly did that,  but on second passes I noticed that there are some common darker blue and green cast independent of the highlight colors, which led me to more subjectively needing to adjust the darker tones too.

analysing color wheel and rgb parade

(I used the RGB curves and RGB parade monitor for all the color correction, always pulling the highlights up and aligning the parts that represents the eyes, pic related)

Notably two scenes I’d like to mention, first is that very strong blue cast scene of Shinji about to enter Nerv’s car to go away. By just adjusting the white point, the dark black paint of the car becomes greenish, which is obviously not correct, specially when you compare it to the original broadcast. So I had to reduce the dark-green tones to compensate. By doing so this also messed up with the mid-green tones of the background forest, so I had to boost the mid-tones of the greens to make the mountains look more natural while taking care not to mess the skin-tone of Shinji. A very difficult scene to work with.

(pic related)

grab13243

BD Renewal

With color correction:

Color Corrected Curves

Color Corrected Curves

Then I thought that a following scene, which also had a very strong blue cast, would work with the same curves from that previous scene, but it didn’t. Instead of a dark green cast, this scene had a dark blue cast making the trees look alien. I had to actually INCREASE the dark green tones and decrease the dark blue tones opposed to previous scene to make the trees look natural.  Again, looking at the original broadcast version helped to determine a more ideal color for the scene.

Trailer V2 splited.mkv_snapshot_00.30_[2015.10.10_21.51.39]

Some scenes, however, were impossible to determine what an “ideal” color correction should have been, specially the final Eva Unit 01 berserk scene. Just like Episode 16, as the Eva enters berserk, suddenly, a “red” tint takes place on the whole scene. This is clearly a director’s choice. This is very noticeable on the transtion of two shots on the original non-renewal Episode broadcast like we can see here:

http://diff.pics/ZBWR1lTNwH2m/1

I don’t know why, but for the Renewal, both the episode 16 and 19 this red color cast was removed. However, strangely, on the same scene on the BD Remastered Death Movie, you can see how the purple tone of Unit 01 is slightly more reddish than the remastered version of Episode 19. I wonder what the correct tone of Eva Unit 01’s purple was supposed to look. Unfortunately we don’t have a reference color pallet to look up.

I ended up using EoE as reference as it has a more uniform and professional color balance and the whites are almost all the time correct. Even so, as I was correcting the final scenes of Episode 19, I allowed myself some freedom to pull the red a little bit more on the scenes the core of Unit 01 is seen because it was too dark while on the original broadcast it had a much more vivid red color.

BD original ep 19

BD original ep 19

Broadcast ep 19

Broadcast ep 19

Broadcast ep 19

Broadcast ep 19

BD ep 19

BD ep 19

Death Episode 19

Death Episode 19

Death Episode 19

Death Episode 19

Only one extra type of scene I allowed myself such freedoms, was explosion shots. They were ridiculous dark and there were no good way that I could get a reference to make then “corrected” properly. So I just made then brighter and  reddish to my personal taste:

Trailer V2 splited.mkv_snapshot_00.36_[2015.10.10_21.14.42]

Trailer V2 splited.mkv_snapshot_00.39_[2015.10.10_21.14.56]

Before finishing, it’s also interesting to show up the scenes that I left untouched. Most of these scenes had a particular color cast which were already proper exposed and which I couldn’t evaluate how to change. Such as the hospital scene, which was well exposed so not even a level correction was necessary.

[Sephirotic]Evangelion - 19 [1080p 8bit AAC] [ENG CH PT FR ITA SPA GER JP RUS] [77A0F0A0].mkv_snapshot_03.07_[2015.10.10_19.39.24][Sephirotic]Evangelion - 19 [1080p 8bit AAC] [ENG CH PT FR ITA SPA GER JP RUS] [77A0F0A0].mkv_snapshot_05.57_[2015.10.10_19.39.11]

The mindfuck-train was also notably too sensitive to change, while I could have pulled the exposition a little bit up, that would mess up with the gamma and made everything more reddish, so I decided not to mess up with it.

BD Original

BD Original

Broadcast

Broadcast

One particular shot that was, opposed to most of the episode, very bright, was this quick shot of Shinji imprisoned. Strangely it looks quite noisier than the rest of the episode (which had a very ugly smudged DNR, by the way) which may make us suspect it was “pulled” or overexposed from the original film exposition. I wonder why they didn’t bother doing it with other scenes.

BD original

BD original

And finally, here is an example of a director’s particular choice of color grading post-renewal:

BD Original

BD Original

Originally on the broadcast, this scene wasn’t that much red. The director probably choose to alter it for renewal to make it more “Impactant”. Interesting enough, the BD Death version of this scene doesn’t have that color cast either:

Broadcast

Broadcast

Death (BD)

Death (BD)

That was pretty much the most important and relevant parts of the process of color correcting Episode 19.

Hope you guys enjoyed it and please excuse English mistakes, this isn’t my first language.

You can find me on “Nyaa”.

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