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Watched La Haine (4k version) the other day and was captivated by how the British Film Institute gave the film a much lower contrast soft look in comparison to Criterion's hard contrast look. I know lighting plays a vital role but did they add a filter or lower the whites?. It seems as if there is a glowing outline around body figures and objects, so did they use HDR? Has the clarity tool been used too? I'm not planning on using any type of mist filters because it will strengthen the highlights too much and this is something that I don't attend to aim for.

example scene 1: 4K BFI version with lower contrast

example scene 1: Criterion version with high contrast

example scene 2: 4K BFI low contrast

example scene 2: Criterion high-contrast

example scene 3: 4K BFI low contrast

example scene 3: Criterion high-contrast

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    \$\begingroup\$ Overall, the darker images are much lower quality anyway [4k vs 1080 if I were to take a guess]. It's also likely they are in rec709, which is being misinterpreted as sRGB. [This question is probably a better fit for video.stackexchange.com than here.] \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 13:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ so what would you do to slyly get that new 4k look ? because it feel like if I lower the whites it end up decreasing the highlights too in contrast to how it is in the new 4k look ( low soft whites yet strong glows highlights) \$\endgroup\$
    – T E
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let me try to show this in an answer. The same process can be approximated for both video or stills... \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 18, 2022 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is "BFI" in this context. Where I'm from BFI is a waste collection and disposal company that rents/empties trash dumpsters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Dec 21, 2022 at 11:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelC - The British Film Institute Not particularly relevant to the still image, but a major archival, funding & distribution organisation in the British movie business. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:53

1 Answer 1

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I think what is really making the difference here is a misinterpretation of a colour profile/icc. The darker version might be Rec709 being misinterpreted as sRGB - one is a video profile, the other stills. In colour these are similar, but the gamma curve is different. Misinterpreting will skew the darker end of the scale.

Dropping both of these into Photoshop, you can approximate a curve readjustment using Levels

enter image description here

Click for full size
A very hasty Levels tweak of the darker image on the right, with the untouched lighter image on the left.
Lift the blacks, expand the mids by dropping the mid-point lower down the scale.
It's not perfect, but it's close.

It's never going to match perfectly because we're not truly inverting the curve that was misapplied, but as an approximation I think it's OK. If we were to be a little more finicky, the left [4k] image is not strictly black & white/greyscale, it has a little warmth added.

You can do this for stills or movies, FCP & DaVinci have very similar controls.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you my bro for this informative answer , despite the fact that I am couple months late( I barely use this ). Did you know an alternative method for levels on DaVinci please? \$\endgroup\$
    – T E
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ DaVinci has similar controls to Photoshop for this, but really a specific video question should go on video.stackexchange.com not here. We only deal in stills photography here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 17:55

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