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Video Tutorial: Maximizing Brightness and Contrast in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6

In this tutorial you'll learn how to maximize the brightness and contrast of your video in Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 using the Brightness, Contrast, and Gamma Correction controls for effective and balanced adjustments.

Using Gamma Correction to Adjust the Midtones

Unfortunately, the face, is still too dark, and most of the pixels are well below 60 IRE. How do we address that? We attack it with the Gamma Correction effect (Figure 11, below). What does gamma do? According to the Premiere Pro Help file, the Gamma Correction effect lightens or darkens a clip without substantially changing the shadows or the highlights. So, in theory, this should allow us to boost just the midtones in the face without pushing up the whites or pushing down the blacks. Let's see how it works.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6
Figure 11. Enabling the Gamma Correction effect

After enabling Gamma Correction as shown in Figure 11, I'll drag the slider to increase brightness in the midtones. If I drag it to 9, as shown in Figure 12 (below), we see that we're pushing some of the blacker pixels up off the 0 IRE, but we're seeing very little movement in the whites.

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6
Figure 12. Adjusting Gamma Correction to 9

If we push the Gamma Correction effect farther to the left, we crush the whites a bit, but not to the same degree as adjusting the brightness control directly. If I dial Gamma Correction back to 8, I'd also adjust the Contrast a to keep the black pixels at 0 IRE.

To test the adjusted values, I'd return to the Timeline to the location where there's movement in the face, move the CTI around and check the levels of the pixels in the face. In my video, I see a lot more pixels extending up over the 60 IRE line and even close to touching the 80 IRE, which is OK because we got a really nasty bright spot there that should be around 80 IRE.. I'll stay with a gamma correction of 8 for a nice, bright face (Figure 13, below).

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6
Figure 13. Face brightened with the Gamma Correction effect

Boosting Midtones with Compression in Mind

The reason I focusing on brightening the face is because I'm going to compress this and upload it to YouTube where it will be compressed again. I want the face as bright as possible so it's preserved through all those compression cycles.

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