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Old September 20th, 2010, 12:30 PM   #1
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shooting in grayscale vs converting in post

I've had very good results shooting video in grayscale mode, and not so great results shooting in color and then converting. I like the idea of shooting in color for more options down the road, but not if the grayscale conversion will be sub-par. Anyone have thoughts on this?

I shoot stills for a living, always in raw mode, and am able to get very nice grayscale conversions with Lightroom. But video on the 5D isn't RAW, so I'm wondering if that's why I'm not getting ideal conversions to b&w, or if it's just that I haven't learned properly how to do it. I'm very experienced with RAW files in Photoshop and Lightroom; less skilled with FCP and Color (and other video post software).
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Old September 20th, 2010, 07:16 PM   #2
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I like the idea of shooting in color for more options down the road, but not if the grayscale conversion will be sub-par. Anyone have thoughts on this?
All my black & white video I shoot first in color and then make it b/w in post (FCP). More options that way.

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Old September 21st, 2010, 04:37 PM   #3
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All my black & white video I shoot first in color and then make it b/w in post (FCP). More options that way.

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I prefer options as well, as I said in the OP, but if shooting in grayscale looks better, that would be my first priority. I wonder if anyone has any opinions on whether or not there is any advantage to shooting in grayscale.
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Old September 21st, 2010, 04:43 PM   #4
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Files might be smaller, but I'd stick with color personally. Despite it being much lower resolution than RAW stills and despite it not being RAW data, there are still video fx plugins out there that can use the color info to fine-tune a B&W conversion -- just like you do with the B&W color sliders in Lightroom. Also, you never know, you might want the color version sometime in the future, and I seriously doubt you'll save much hard disk space (although I bet some).
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 11:49 AM   #5
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If you are shooting in grayscale, you can try some different filters like green or red, for pretty cool effects.

I used to do this back in the days of B&W film.

That is in essence what you can play with in PSD or lightroom/aperture when you convert. You may get a cleaner result just shooting in Gray.

Experiment a little.

Let us know how it turns out.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 02:20 PM   #6
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I use a Yellow filter a lot on my rangefinder when shooting B&W film...
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 05:03 AM   #7
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I use a Yellow filter a lot on my rangefinder when shooting B&W film...
I use 4x4 dark red for my B&W. (got that from a seminar with A. Tarkovsky).

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Old September 23rd, 2010, 01:57 PM   #8
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When I shoot digital stills I shoot RAW and then use Lightroom to do the equivalent of shooting black and white film with a color filter on the camera--that is, convert to grayscale but adjust color sliders to change the tonality. Now I'm experimenting with that in FCP, using the channel mixer and RGB filters.
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Old October 4th, 2010, 11:54 AM   #9
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When I shoot for B&W I shoot in color with more contrast and slightly under exposed.

I do not worry if the colors look off, when you convert, it works out. Then apply your B&W filter go back to the clip adjust your brightness and contrast and bring up the mid tones to suit your look.

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Old October 14th, 2010, 09:39 AM   #10
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I'm not versed at all in B&W shooting - what is the purpose of the color filters when going to B&W?
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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:42 PM   #11
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I'm not versed at all in B&W shooting - what is the purpose of the color filters when going to B&W?
Yes indeed. For example, I often use a red filter to (pre)suppress and bright up the greens.

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Old October 15th, 2010, 04:55 PM   #12
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I'm not versed at all in B&W shooting - what is the purpose of the color filters when going to B&W?
simplified, a filter of a particular color (red, blue, green, yellow, orange) will lighten those respected colors in the black and white conversion, and relatively, darken their complementary colors. thus a red filter will make the blue sky dark and skintones glow. A blue filter can be used to mimic antique photo processes (which were orthochromatic) --lightening the sky, darkening skin tones and most foliage. It's often said that a yellow filter gives the most "normal" black and white conversion...

It's pretty common to apply these filtrations digitally, but they can also be done with an optical filter and the camera set to black and white.

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Old October 15th, 2010, 07:19 PM   #13
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I think I now realize what Kevin asked for; "why not do everything in post?" If that's the case, the answer would be something like; if you know what you are looking for already while shooting, it's always a good idea to steer you there from the get-go -- i.e. adding optical filters and then do the rest in post. But if you wanna leave your options open, then try to shoot as natural/neutral as possible, and then do everything in post. Qualitywise though, doing everything optically would be better, but it's so much harder and isn't nearly as versatile as doing it in post.

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