Last year I graded my first feature, a Lord of Rings fan film called Born of Hope by Actors at Work Productions in London. It was an epic project (excuse the pun), that had me deal with every problem I'm likely to face as Online Editor or Colourist.
The biggest challenge was evening out all different formats that had been used on the project. Because it was shot on an incredibly low budget it had varied throughout its year in production between DVCPROHD and HDV, sometimes with a 35mm lens adapter, sometimes not. The first thing to learn was that HDV can't be pushed anyway near as far as DVCPROHD, there just isn't the information. I had worked with both formats before but having them side by side in the same colour project really hammered the point home. The other thing I learnt was that 35mm lens adapter's do more for you're "film look" than just give a shallower depth of field. I noticed early on when trying to balance a scene that had shots both with an adapter an without that the range of colours in the shot was dramatically less in the adapter shots. Essentially the adapter was doing my job for me, reducing the colour palette to just leave complementary colours, throwing away green and magenta so that the images were more pleasing. Obviously I had to a little more work to enhance this and correct for any contrast adjustments I had made but generally, lens adapter shots needed very little colour work. I presume this is because of the sheer amount of glass that the light is travelling through before it hits the sensor and the way the stills camera lenses interact with the adapter glass and the stock lens. Unfortunately this meant that I had to do heavy correction on the shots without adapters to get them looking as good. I used the technique of lowering overall saturation and pushing and pulling with the shadow and highlight wheels to add saturation in the way I wanted, but I also used the saturation curve quite a bit because I found it very effective at removing unwanted colours, especially the oversaturated greens in the forest scenes (of which there were many).
Check out the film here;