PHYX Color

I find the many color correction tools to be the most useful of the various plug-ins on the market. For me, they become the most often used, because they don’t lock you into a trite look, characteristic of many special effects filters. Noise Industries, whose filters are a cut above the norm, has accrued a nice collection of FxFactory filters that can be used for grading and color correction, thanks to their partnership with developers, such as DV Shade and Luca Visual FX.

A recent addition to the fold is PHYX, who has been a developer of plug-ins for Apple Shake. Their association with Noise Industries now brings two powerful tool groups (PHYX Keyer and PHYX Color) to Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, Motion and After Effects.

Click any image to see an enlarged view

PHYX Color is a deceptively simple set of five color correction/grading filters: Bleach Bypass, Glow Dark, Selective Saturation, Shift/Suppress and Techni2Strip. The names might imply a one-trick pony, but that’s hardly the case. I’ve pulled a sample frame from a recent Canon 5D project I posted for DeBortoli Wines. This frame is of their lovely Yarra Valley, Australia winery estate. The image is as it came from the camera – in other words, I haven’t done any correction to it prior to applying these filters.

Techni2Strip

The look of the Technicolor process came back into vogue with The Aviator and a few filter sets include a plug-in similar to this. Techni2Strip attempts to authentically simulate the process of photographing through green and red filters and offers two methods. Above is an example of Method A, which offers the most control and is supposed to be the most accurate simulation of the process. In general, adjustments shift the image between being more yellow or more cyan.

Here’s an example of Method B, which offers less control and according to PHYX is a less authentic simulation.

Shift/Suppress

This filter is analogous to using a colored gel in either an additive or subtractive process. Shift (seen above) moves the colors in an image towards the selected color. In this example, teal.

When set to Suppress, the selected color is removed from the image. Here, I’ve selected a blue, which is then pulled out or suppressed as a component of the foliage, hills and sky in this shot.

Selective Saturation

Selective Saturation is a similar effect to Suppress but uses a different sampling technique. More of a specific color is removed and it is a better filter if you are trying to isolate a specific color. In this example, I sampled the darker vineyard area and desaturated it. This left saturation in the main building and hills in the background.

Glow Dark

This filter diffuses the darker area of the image. It is intended to be used on very crisp, synthetic images – like computer-generated scenes – and make them look more “real”. The diffusion removes the harshness of edges. Its use shouldn’t be limited to CGI, however. In this first example, you can see that an extreme setting gives you a very diffused look for a more dream-like result.

This second example with different settings yields a different result entirely. Note how the ridge in the middle of this scene feels almost three-dimensionally offset from the distant hills in the background.

Bleach Bypass

A bleach bypass filter has been a staple of many effects packages since the look first cropped back up in Three Kings and Savings Private Ryan. This one gives you an authentic look, which characteristically is desaturated, high contrast and has blown-out highlights. Unlike many others, PHYX Bleach Bypass can also be useful as a general grading filter and doesn’t need to result in the typical “skip bleach” look. Above, I’ve set it to have a very hyper-real, colorful appearance.

This second example is more like what you expect to see when you think of the look of a “bleach bypass” or “skip-bleach” or “ENR” process.

Mix and match

Like any filter in Final Cut Studio or After Effects, you don’t need to stop at just one! Often you get the best result when you stack up a few to establish a “look”. In the following examples, I’ve applied four PHYX Color filters (Bleach Bypass, Glow Dark, Suppress and Shift) to the image, which is shown neutral above.

First, I’ve applied Bleach Bypass and cranked up the settings for a very punchy result.

Second, Glow Dark adds some diffusion.

Third, I’ve used Suppress to pull some of the lushness out of the green of the foliage.

Fourth, I’ve used Shift to add an overall peach-color tint to the image.

©2010 Oliver Peters

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