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color grading - how to fix for more legible dark skin types

grand marshal polycounter
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Alex_J grand marshal polycounter
this is question thread but will update with my findings as I go

problem is that i try to make sure that dark skin type faces remain legible. with unreals default tone mapping if you are any darker than light-skinned it becomes difficult to read faces. the low values just seem too dark.

In Maya if i set tone mapper to Log type, dark skin is legible. What I mean by legible is that even from a distance, a person with very dark skin's face is readable

but with ACEs it is too dark

Unreals tonemapper is set to ACEs by default and I dont think we can change that. We can adjust the curves in color grading or disable the tonemapper and then use a LUT or something. 

I can adjust the curves to get a similar result - just clipping the low range of dark values, but I don't know a lot about these things on technical level. Is that a stupid workaround for any reason? Like for certain types of displays it will look awful? 

example of face legibility: 
difference shades of skin but the darkest peoples faces are seen as clearly as the others

another thought is that with darker skin, you seem to see more specular highlight, though i assume its same amount of specular on any skin, just that you notice it more on dark skin because of the constrast. But maybe just increasing spec for skin tone is a simple answer that fixes problem at source, rather than post process which will then effect everything else.


  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J grand marshal polycounter
    Okay so the stated intention from this video (~44:00) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-wectYNfRQ&t=2570s 
    is that:
    • Post process / Film parameters are intended for per project tone mapping
    • Post process / Color grading params can be used for per level, per scene, etc adjustments
    So just tweaking Slope, Toe, etc seems to be enough to solve my problem and guys in this video confirming this is intended use. 
  • iam717
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    iam717 greentooth
    1st, i'd like to say i admire all peoples of all walks of life, however this img looks like a moment when someone discovered "technicolor".  Black & white to Technicolor, but yes i too when experimenting found that darker tones are difficult, which is strange cause then that would fall under lighting issues in shader code and such, doesn't it, which would probably then fall under technical.  (if any of this is out of wack, ignore me its 4am)

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