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Old October 11th, 2008, 06:34 PM   #1
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Grading in camera or in post

I was just curious to people's thoughts and most importantly their experiences in shooting flat (without a profile look) or with a particular setting (Bills TC2 comes to mind) when you know you will be doing a lot of colour manipulation in post for lets say a feature film. I ask because I have recently been schooled by a few 'experts' and they all say to shoot as flat as possible however they are very old school teachers and only ever shot on celluloid so I wonder if their advice is aimed more at shooting on film, and as I am used to hearing people swear by their profile looks on this boad I'm just interested to know people's methods for grading in post are.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 07:49 PM   #2
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If you want flexibility in post, shoot flat.
If you know exactly what you want, try to approximate that in the cam, to minimize compression/quantization-artifacts.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 07:52 PM   #3
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Dominik is spot on with that statement. If you go the shoot it flat route, be prepared to capture immediately to an uncompressed codec in post to allow for manipulation.

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Old October 11th, 2008, 08:12 PM   #4
 
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"shoot flat" is a relative term. The truth is that you want to shoot to capture the most data you can. This means going for the dynamic range that the scene calls for. If you walk away with as many bits as you can get, your color timing in post will be of the highest quality possible. No matter how hard you try to capture final color during the shoot, you'll never be consistent, take to take. Lighting changes with the time of day, exposure changes, ambient light changes between scenes. All of this can be fixed in post, color matched, crushed shadows or blown hi-lightes you didn't see during the shoot. But, every change you make in post affects the final image quality. ideally, every shot will match for exposure, color and luma. But, that never happens. The more complete the data is, the more flexibility you'll have to fix it in post. Sometimes that means "shoot flat", other times, underexpose. Experience is a great teacher. One rule that seems pretty consistent, don't blow the hi-lites. You can't recover what's not there. Underexpose too much, and the shadows turn to an ugly grainy sandbox. Perfect is close enough. If the scene is bright, go for the hi-lites, if the scene is shadowy, go for the shadows. With 8-10 stops of dynamic range, there's only so much you can get. Just don't put 1-1 1/2 stops over/under, then you got only 7-9 stops to work with.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 09:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Ravens View Post
Experience is a great teacher. One rule that seems pretty consistent, don't blow the hi-lites. You can't recover what's not there. Underexpose too much, and the shadows turn to an ugly grainy sandbox. Perfect is close enough. If the scene is bright, go for the hi-lites, if the scene is shadowy, go for the shadows. With 8-10 stops of dynamic range, there's only so much you can get. Just don't put 1-1 1/2 stops over/under, then you got only 7-9 stops to work with.
Bill, this really is a great summary.
Thanks for your input.
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Old October 11th, 2008, 10:34 PM   #6
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Does setting the matrix to high-sat take the specs beyond broadcast limitations?
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Old October 11th, 2008, 10:59 PM   #7
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Great feedback guys. I plan to do some experiementing but I always like to air my thoeires before i go off and do my thing. But lets expand on 'shooting flat' for a moment, are we talking about out the box camera settings or are we talking about an un-tweaked cine/std setting? To my eye it looks like setting the matrix to cinema would be a good setting for post colour manipulation as i feel the less saturated image will be more suseptable to colour timing or maybe im way off here? Also would editing in prores allow more room for grading due to its supposed bump from a 4:2:0 colour space to a 4:2:2?
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Old October 12th, 2008, 12:30 AM   #8
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As for me, I thought the default out-of-the-box setting would be the flattest with the most lattitude because it just looks flat. But I changed to a Cine4 setting (used the Vortex DVD setting) and not only did the whole image look better, and more vivid, but the contrasts held a lot better. I first noticed it on skin tones... no blown out cheeks while outside (facial cheeks, ha!), and then on white sand in bright light, etc. It made me feel much more confident in my plans to shoot wilderness stuff because now the highlites don't blow. I think it calls for a 95 zebra setting, which I use. It also has a high-sat matrix. I want to be sure I'm shooting within broadcast specs and I'm not sure about the color, although it looks fantastic and not overly saturated on my computer monitor. But when I plug the camera directly to our 55" HDTV in the family room the colors look too strong. It's got me wondering.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 01:14 AM   #9
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Buck, invest in a SDI to HDMI for the best direct view from the EX1.

I bought the Black Magic HDLINK ($400), although I heard there are better units.

I had the SDI>HDLINK hooked up to my 50" plasma via HDMI. At the same time I had the component input hooked up. The quality difference was staggering. Not only does the SDI offer far better image quality and higher detail, but the scale was 1:1 on the set.

I'm not sure how much of this was from the component inputs on my 50" set, but the component coming off the EX1 had a lot of image lost due to overscan.

Even my wife was blown away with the difference when I switched from the different inputs.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 01:38 PM   #10
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Another important consideration is whether you are doing your own grading in post or handing it off to someone else. If the latter then will you be involved in post decisions and/or or do you trust them to do a good job?

I rarely cut my own material and my experience is that in post most producers are more worried about time and money than careful grading. As a result I almost always try to give them the best look I can when shooting in the field.

lenny levy
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Old October 15th, 2008, 01:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Forester View Post
I changed to a Cine4 setting ... It made me feel much more confident in my plans to shoot wilderness stuff because now the highlites don't blow ... But when I plug the camera directly to our 55" HDTV in the family room the colors look too strong. It's got me wondering.
It's because you're indoors instead of in the great outdoors, and the photons don't have enough room to move around. They bounce unrelentingly against everything and make it all look oversaturated.

To solve the problem, use a chainsaw to cut away one of the walls of the room to allow the photons more freedom of movement.... :-)

But seriously, Cine 4 is what I use. I noticed that not only am I able to capture the bright white details in clouds, but also shadowy faces under hats. It's all I use. Maybe I'm a one-trick pony when it comes to configuring cameras, but it's worked well during the day as well as at night.

BTW, I rework all the shots in post using Apple's Color.
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Old October 15th, 2008, 03:58 AM   #12
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As has been touched on already you ought to shoot each scene to get the most out of it and if you know you'll be posting it in a certain way then make allowances for that up front.

Filters are important to ensure you capture the right light range. White balance is important so that you don't clip individual colour channels by accident. Outside, grad filters can be a life saver to manipulate the light into what you want to capture.

You have two places where you are going to loose information. The sensor can only capture a certain dynamic range (and each of the 3 sensors will capture range differently depending on the quality of light, hence white balancing and filters). Then the codec will also capture a subset of that range which is where the gamma curves come in.

Some of those curves don't use the whole 8bit range for legal colour reasons and if you're posting you probably want to avoid those (but i can't actually remember off the top of my head which those are - im sure there's a really good thread on here with some experiments in it)

hth
paul
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