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Old November 2nd, 2009, 08:36 AM   #1
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Grading in post - why use PP recipes?

Hey Folks, I realise there is a whole thread dedicated to spelling out the best PP recipes, when to use them etc.

My question is more fundamental however...If you plan to grade in post using FCP & MB etc do PPs serve a useful purpose or would you be better off shooting it flat, at the cameras default settings?

My assumption is that the goal in shooting is to capture as much data in camera as possible and then make decisions about trade offs later in post - just not sure how to best do that.

as always
thanks in advance
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 08:55 AM   #2
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The camera's default settings are ANYTHING but flat. I have 2 profiles that are very flat that I use if I am going to grade footage later.

Some people prefer not to grade in post and go for the look in camera. Sometimes I understand that, like if you need to turn footage around quickly (press stuff, wedding SDE, etc.), but I prefer to leave my footage somewhat flat so I can move it around later. I does add some noise though but it's worth it to me.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 10:13 AM   #3
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If the EX1 recorded RAW I would completely agree with you. It does not. Changes done properly as the image is recorded will lead to a much higher quality final product. Here are somethings to keep it mind.
1. How skilled are you at manipulating the image on the set and how are you judging your work. Are you using a Vector Scope/Wave form monitor and a HD Monitor or are you looking at the camera's on-board? You can create unfixable problems if you fail here,
2. How aggressive are you manipulating the image? If you are going for a very stylized look you may want to leave most of that manipulation in post where you can change it if it doesn't work. However, there are times when I have been very aggressive on the set and it has worked. My clients wanted a very edgy look So I tweaked the camera and they loved it. Because we saw it on the set everyone got very excited. The look was cut into the piece with no post adjustment. If I hadn't done that the show would have been mundane.
3. How skilled are you post color correction people. Is it someone with a home system cranking dials and hoping for the best or is it a professional on-line color correction system?
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 12:14 PM   #4
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My situation is simple and probably similar for many shooters here. I rarely post my own stuff. I hand it off to someone else and in my general experience they are not very good at color correction. They hire me for my eye and my lighting, so I give them the best picture I can on the set.

9 times out of 10 when I tell someone, - "this shot is little flat" , "the blacks are too high, don't forget to bring them down" " the last sequence should be warmed up a bit", etc the person doing color correction doesn't see it.

Only if you know exactly how they are doing post and/or they ask for a flat picture will I do it.

In film it was expected that I would supervise the the color timing. In video despite the fact that I have many times volunteered to sit in on the color correction, I've never been asked to it. They just think you'll slow it down and cost them more money. If you're not there to supervise the post then realize that most directors overseeing it will generally only have a vague idea of what you were going for - if that.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 02:50 PM   #5
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Overwhelming reason to use PPs in camera is to extend dynamic range. THIS is the thing you can't do in post - once you've lost information at the highlights (burnt out) or shadows (crushed) there's no getting them back. Using settings different to factory defaults can, depending on the camera, extend the dynamic range able to be captured by the camera by around 2-3 stops - this is HUGE.
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 05:21 PM   #6
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Great info so far - appreciated !!!

Steve Phillips nailed my probably poorly worded goal... Aquiring the largest dynamic range in camera on set to give myself and my in house FCP MB guy the most options in post. Granted, we do not typically do aggressive highly stylised looks (yet) but the basic "best practices" goal remains.

I have read the entire sticky post on PP recipes and have used them to good effect. Sounds like I should continue down that road, learning more about which ones are best to use when etc.

As always, any additional comments are much appreciated - thanks again :)
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 05:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
The camera's default settings are ANYTHING but flat. I have 2 profiles that are very flat that I use if I am going to grade footage later.
would you care to share your profiles?
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Old November 2nd, 2009, 06:08 PM   #8
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I use the Vortex Media PP mentioned in their DVD for pretty much everything. It gives me a pretty good all-around image. I also color correct everything pretty much using the 3-Way Color Corrector in FCP. Not a whole lot, but just slightly to bend the image to my taste, or pull the highs down a little. Maybe saturate the color a little.

I'm looking for a good PP for use in a dark bar in a situation where you may be recording a band that doesn't have the benefit of stage lights, or filming in low light in general around the house. I find turning off the shutter is pretty good for that too, but I'd like a dedicated Night PP that extends the range of my darks.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 08:01 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Kiger View Post
If you plan to grade in post using FCP & MB etc do PPs serve a useful purpose or would you be better off shooting it flat, at the cameras default settings?
I just came to the same conclusion after color-correcting some footage that I thought looked pretty good. What you can do with even the simplest color correction changes the look so much--and not for any "stylised" look, just simple grading--that except for what Steve said about extending dynamic range, the obsession with PP's seems way out of proportion to final results.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 08:43 AM   #10
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The cameras cinegammas are designed for grading while the standard gammas are not suited to grading. The standard color matrix gives an overly red hue that is difficult to correct in post while the cinema matrix gives a much more natural tonal range, if a little subdued.

The standard gammas tend to give pictures that look good straight out of the box. Std 1 is very noisy however. They do this by having deep almost crushed blacks and this makes them difficult to grade as stretching the blacks will also raise the noise levels. The EX default setting uses standard gamma 3 with an auto knee and this is far from ideal if you are going to grade. The auto knee will lead to inconsistencies from shot to shot or even within a shot if the lighting changes.

The cinegammas give maximum lattitude, but really do need to be graded. They give slightly elevated blacks which makes grading easier. At the same time the highlights are compressed in a gradual manner. Again this is easier to grade than the abrupt and variable auto knee used by default by the standard gammas. In addition some of the additional extra latitude is gained by allowing cinegammas 1,3 and 4 to record at up to 109%, so for broadcast, DVD or BluRay these must be graded to avoid clipping. The cinegammas, straight out of the camera look a bit flat.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 12:46 PM   #11
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As I mentioned above I don't use cinegammas because I don't usually do my own grading, but I do agree with Allister that the auto knee is too aggressive and can create inconsistencies. I simply us a knee set to 93 with most other settings out of the box except that I lower the black to -6 to hit "0".
Even when I do my own grading though I don't find those settings too red or the blacks too crushed to pretty simple grading. Rarely do I need to raise blacks anyway. On the other hand I haven't experimented much with cinegammas so maybe I don't know what I'm missing.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 01:08 PM   #12
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Also, (Final Cut Studio users) use Apple Color. I was a bit scared of it when I first saw the interface. BUT.. my god, what a piece of software.

I'd not deliver anything to a client without running it through Color. Amazing, anyone who hasn't used it yet then have a go!
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 03:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
The camera's default settings are ANYTHING but flat. I have 2 profiles that are very flat that I use if I am going to grade footage later.
Perrone, it would be interesting to see your "flat" profiles.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 04:06 PM   #14
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I don't claim my profile to be "flat", I claim it to do what I need it to do. Other people's needs may be different.

PP: Film

Matrix

Select: Cinema
Level: 0
Phase: 0
(All shifting is set to 0)

Color Correction: Off

White

Offset White: Off
Preset White: 5500


Detail: On

All settings at zero

Skin Tone Detail: Off


Gamma

Level: +4
Select: Cine2


Black: -12
Black Gamma: 0




PP: Flat

Matrix

Select: Cinema
Level: -15
Phase: -5
R-G: +75
G-R: -18
G-B: -32
B-R: -27
B-G: +13



Color Correction: Off

White

Offset White: Off
Preset White: 5600


Detail: Off

All settings at zero

Skin Tone Detail: Off


Gamma

Level: 0
Select: Cine4


Black: -2
Black Gamma: 0
Low Key Sat: 0
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