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My skin tone is reddish and pale.

It seems even moreso in front of a video camera, where I'm recording some lectures in front of two lights and a black backdrop.

Also whereas looking in a mirror it doesn't look like I have acne, in front of a camera my skin looks very blotchy, see:

enter image description here

What can I do to reduce that?

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I'm not being flip, but consider that not every problem has or needs a technical solution. Stage makeup can make you look any way you want to look on camera. No professional video host would go on air in his/her plain skin.

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Possible solutions

  1. Check your White balance settings on the camera.
  2. Change your camera settings to reduce contrast and introduce softness in the video (search for a "portrait" color profile if you have a dslr)
  3. Edit the final video and perform color correction/grading

or a combination of those.

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  • Or might be a White Balance issue, right? – p2or Jun 15 '15 at 9:10
  • Yes true! I implied this in "camera settings", but I will update my answer – kazanaki Jun 15 '15 at 9:45
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When politicians cannot control the cameras, the lighting, the post processing, then they are pancaked in makeup. You can use this but you have more control:

Lighting: A wide diffused lighting source is more flattering for imperfections but may not help you with colour blotchiness. Some LEDs may not play nicely with your camera sensor and have green spikes in some parts of the spectrum that can make you seem jaundiced. Tungsten light that throws off more infrared can be good with some cameras but worse with others.

Camera choice: some cameras are kinder in rendering skin tones thanks to their processing of reds. From the sensor's response including the reds outside of our usual visible spectrum, through to the onboard matrixing or combination of the sensor data into a usable signal. Flattering caucasian skin tones is done at the expense of being able to differentiate subtle shades of red more accurately. Canon are anecdotally liked for their skin tones, but more orange reds.

Edge enhancement: Cameras have a "detail" circuit to artificially enhance the edges of contrasting areas to make a camera sharper. Some will have the ability to selectively not apply this to areas that are of a pinkish skin tone.

In post-production various "Beauty" plugins allow for a selection of the skin tone range and then will apply diffusion or colour evenness to that area.

You can a achieve a similar result to this yourself in a free colour grading system such as DaVinci Resolve Light with this method: 1. Add a serial node and use the colour picker to "grab" your skin tones. Widen the selection in the colour, saturation or luminance sections to get as much of your face as possible while not grabbing other parts of the picture. Blur the key selection somewhat. 2. Now in the midtones colour wheel, push the whole range into a red/orange direction. This will make you look like an Oompa Loompa. 3. Reduce the saturation on this node till you look more natural but you will now have an even tone in the range you selected. You can also add a slight blur to this node to soften imperfections. If the overall effect is too false, selectively mix this processed face back in with the original to taste.

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