How To Use A Waveform Monitor

A waveform monitor is a special type of oscilloscope used to measure and display the level, or voltage, of the lines of a video signal over time. The light in a scene is translated to voltage with brighter light showing as higher voltage.

Many videographers shoot beautiful video without ever learning how to use a waveform monitor or vectorscope. Since many professional cameras now have these instruments built into the camera, it’s worth understanding how to use them. They can only improve your shooting. Think of your waveform monitor as a light meter whose job is to help you get the right exposure. It’s a step up from zebra bars.

Features of Waveform Monitors

Larger productions will often have a waveform monitor and vectorscope. Originally, these were separate devices. Today many waveform monitors include the function of a vectorscope. With the transition to digital video, waveform monitors offer additional features. Some waveform monitors include a picture mode. This places the video picture on the screen like a video monitor or television. Other waveform monitors support the audio portion of video. The audio is either embedded in the video or obtained from separate audio inputs. Video metadata such as timecode, closed captions and more can be displayed on some modern waveform monitors.

Editing software such as Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro offer their own built in scopes. There are also software-only waveform monitors which use a laptop or desktop computer such as:

Scopebox for Mac
4K Scope from Drastic TV
Multiscope Lite for PC from Rumble House.

Aside from managing video exposure, a waveform monitor is also very useful for matching multiple cameras at the same location.

The following 3 minute video shows you how to use a waveform monitor.

This is what Color Bars look like on a waveform monitor.
How To Use A Waveform Monitor

Now that you know the basics, practice using a waveform to make better video. For HD video, good exposure is very important.

Keep Reading...


Canon EF to Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera Active Metabones Speed Booster

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera now has an Active Speed Booster for Canon EF lenses. This opens up a vast array of great lenses.

Read More
Turn down that loud TV commercial.

Turn Down Those Loud TV Commercials

The FCC rule against loud commercials has been circumvented due to a loophole. As of June 2015, that loophole has been closed.

Read More
2015 Oscar Nominations

2015 Academy Award Nominations

2015 Academy Award Nominations, Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Cinematography, Short Film, Editing, Screenplay, et al.

Read More
Google and GoPro Make 16 Cam VR Rig

Wanted: Filmmakers To Test Google’s GoPro VR Camera Rig

GoPro and Google have joined forces to create a Virtual Reality camera rig with 16 GoPro HERO4 cameras. It’s called Jump. It can transform 16 pieces of video into one stereoscopic 360 degree VR video. The 360 degree camera array allows all 16 cameras to act as one. This makes camera syncing easy, and includes […]

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Forbes Magazine calls VideoUniversity one of the best business-to-business sites for digital video production.
    Videography Magazine's
    "Website of the Month" Award
    PC Magazine Online "Best Desktop Video Site" Award
    CyberFilm School's "FOUR STAR" Award