Color Correction/Grading

ProRes Raw

Today Apple announced a new version of their ProRes video codecs: ProRes Raw (and Raw HQ). The reason this is significant is that capturing raw footage on cinema cameras poses two main problems: 1) Massive, massive file sizes that can only be captured to the fastest cards and drives which are, of course, quite expensive and 2) Cannot generally be played back without first de-bayering or rendering in post (before you edit).

Of course there have been proxy workflows for a long time to get around this where the camera records raw plus a much lower quality proxy file at the same time. You do your edit with the proxy files and then once you've completed your edit, you swap out the proxies for the de-bayered raw files. It's a workable, but less than ideal workflow.

Since I bought my first ATOMOS recorder in about 2012, I've appreciated the benefits of working with a ProRes workflow (my Ninja II recorder took an HDMI feed from my DSLR and recorded a ProRes file to an SSD drive). This was a nice compromise solution because it captured slightly higher quality footage, but could still be edited without re-rendering the files. It wasn't raw, but it was pretty darn good in terms of quality.

Now, we can have the best of both worlds. And Apple also has a new update of Final Cut Pro X that plays back ProRes Raw footage in real time!

But then there's the problem of how to record ProRes Raw. This is where ATOMOS delivers. Their Sumo19 and Shogun Inferno can both record ProRes Raw with the new firmware update which will be released on Monday, April 9th, 2018.

Of course you'll also need a camera capable of sending a raw signal to the ATOMOS recorder. Out of the gate, the Sumo and Shogun Inferno will have support for the following cinema cameras:

  • Canon C300mkII, C500
  • Panasonic EVA1, Varicam LT
  • Sony FS5, FS7

I haven't shot a lot of raw simply because the workflow was too heavy for most of my work, with an occasion exception for "beauty shots" - e.g., an outdoor landscape with plenty of sky, deep shadows, and incredibly wide dynamic range. That may just change here really soon. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new workflow pans out.

Now what we need is an affordable playback device for HDR so we can use that Sumo as an HDR grading monitor (at least roughly decent HDR monitoring). AJA's monitoring converter box comes in at $2500 USD presently. I'm hoping for something in the sub $1000 range soon so I can put this Sumo to work in post.

See Apple's white paper on ProRes Raw here.

See see the details on ATOMOS's ProRes implementation on the Shogun Inferno and Sumo here

LUTs for LOG: Why You Should Use a LUT with LOG Footage - DaVinci Resolve 14

If you’re new to shooting a LOG profile with your camera and are finding that the color of your footage isn’t looking as natural as you’d expect, it might be that using the camera manufacturer’s LOG LUT will make a big difference.

This was my exact situation: I started shooting with the Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro using the “Film” profile (which is a LOG profile). But I found that skin tones generally looked rather too pink or magenta. I was baffled until my friend Jacob Fenn, who is a colorist, showed me this technique in DaVinci Resolve 14. Simply using the color space transform effect to apply the BMD 4.6k LUT solved the problem!

Links to gear discussed and used to record this session:

Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera

Ursa Viewfinder - Good for when shooting outdoors in the sun

Ursa Mini Pro SSD Recorder -allows you to record to standard, affordable 2.5” SSD drives

Anton Bauer 90Wh Digital Battery - about 2 hours of life with viewfinder and SSD recorder. This battery keeps track of a bunch of metadata which the Anton Bauer performance charger takes into account to optimize charging

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS ART Lens (used on the single shot of Cary on my Ursa Mini Pro)

Electrovoice RE20 Dynamic Microphone (This is what I used to record the voice over for this episode)

Antelope Audio Orion Studio Audio Interface (Thunderbolt and USB 3.0)

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Ursa Mini Pro: Impressions After 6+ Months

After 6+ months of use on various projects, here are the impressions on the Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini Pro cinema camera from two Ursa Mini Pro shooters: My brother Cary Judd and me. This is not a traditional in-depth review, but more of our overall impressions.

The wide shot of both of us was done with the Panasonic GH5 and the two single shots were shot on Ursa Mini Pro.

Find Cary Judd at The Wormhole Boise.

Links to gear discussed and used to record this session:

Ursa Mini Pro Cinema Camera (body only)

Ursa Viewfinder (we didn’t talk about this but I really like this viewfinder - clear, clean image with effective focus peaking, false color, and zoom buttons)

Ursa Mini Pro SSD Recorder (allows you to record to standard, affordable 2.5” SSD drives)

Anton Bauer 90Wh Battery (about 2 hours of life with viewfinder and SSD recorder)

95 Wh V-mount Battery (Same as above but with a different mounting mechanism for cameras)

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 OS ART Lens (used on the single shot of Cary on my Ursa Mini Pro)

Panasonic GH5 (used to shoot the wide interview shots and product shots)

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

Exposing for V-Log/HDR with Panasonic GH5 and Atomos Ninja Inferno

When I first added V-Log to my Panasonic GH4 a few years ago, I was disappointed with a lot of the V-Log footage because it was so noisy. I was hesitant to add V-Log to my GH5 but went ahead and spent a little more time experimenting with it to see how to get the best possible footage. With the help of an Atomos Ninja Inferno HDMI recorder, I’ve learned that it is really just a matter of making sure that you set your aperture and ISO a little differently to optimize the exposure for V-Log. And with the ATOM-HDR feature on the Ninja Inferno, it is even easier to quickly dial in the exposure for V-Log. So here’s how to shoot great looking V-Log video footage on your Panasonic GH4 or GH5.

Gear used to record this episode:

Panasonic GH5 Camera

Panasonic V-Log Firmware Upgrade

Atomos Ninja Inferno HDMI Recorder (simplifies exposing for HDR/LOG and records amazing 4:2:2 10-bit footage from GH4 or GH5)

Sound Devices MixPre-6 Audio Recorder & Mixer

DPA 4017b Shotgun Microphone (my pro-level outdoor mic)

Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 Lens (1st Generation)

Lifecharge USB Battery (for powering the MixPre-6)

Copyright 2017 by Curtis Judd

DaVinci Resolve Training from Alex Jordan: Special Pricing

Last year I had a talk with a colorist by the name of Alex Jordan. The way I found out about him was from a short YouTube piece he put together on color correction in Resolve. What amazed me by that video was that he was able to explain a rather complex topic in just a couple of minutes. He's a natural when it comes to teaching.

So I went to his website, FilmSimplified.com, where he has a series of color grading and editing courses as well as several LUT packs. I took one of the free courses on getting started with DaVinci Resolve and was pleased to find that the entire course was very useful and very concise, just like the episode on YouTube.

So we had this discussion and I've looked to him as a friend and mentor in the world of color since then. His approach is very practical and the things he discusses always useful.

So if you'd like to learn more about color grading, I'd encourage you to have a look at FilmSimplified.com. Try one of his free courses and see if you learn something useful. He won't waste your time.

Also, if you're interested in buying any of his courses, he's having a black Friday special pricing event where he's offering his full DaVinci Resolve color grading course as well as courses on editing in Resolve, a "practice" course where he actually shows you how to correct and grade several clips, and a lighting course all for $99 USD. That's a good investment.

He also kindly offered to provide LearnLightAndSound a portion of the proceeds of that special pricing so that we can continue to post useful tutorials (full disclosure). You won't spend any more using these links than if you just went to his site on your own.

Even if you don't have the budget for the black Friday bundle, definitely check out his free introductory course on DaVinci Resolve 12.5.

Quickly Correct White Balance in DaVinci Resolve 12 5

Have you ever forgotten to set the white balance on your camera during a shoot only to get back home and find that the color in your video is way off? Here’s a way you can quickly correct the white balance of your video clips using the free version of DaVinci Resolve 12.5. You can download the free version of DaVinci Resolve.

Check out Alex Jordan's free and premium color correction and color grading courses.

Special Pricing on Colorimeter for Monitor Calibration

Editing video or photos on your computer screen? Is that screen calibrated? You can save yourself a lot of grief with unexpected, baffling results by calibrating your screen. I use the X-Rite i1Display Pro which I believe cost somewhere around $250 or $300 USD when I bought it about 3 years ago. Today, you can pick it up for about $150 USD. Definitely a good investment.

Before/After Wipe or Animated Crop Effect in Premiere Pro

You’ve probably seen those color grading tutorials or demo reels where you first see the video clip before it was color graded and then a wipe across the screen reveals how the clip looks after it was color graded. It’s a fun and effective effect for showing how you colored your piece.

But how do you do that? Here are two quick ways to do this in Premiere Pro CC 2015.

White Balancing Your Camera (or Gray Balancing?)

A few years ago I did a piece on custom white balancing your camera. It is important to learn this skill to get the best looking footage, especially if shooting with an 8-bit 4:2:0 camera (like many of us use).

Interestingly, as I was doing a little research to put this piece together, I noticed that using a gray card generally produced better results than using a white card. I've had a lot of questions on why and up to now, I just assumed that it had something to do with the fact that 18% gray is closer to the luminance level that we generally shoot for skin tones. Turns out that was a decent guess, but not the whole story.

Art Adams posted an interesting piece titled, "The Secret Art of White Balancing" that goes into way more detail, particularly in light of the fact that many cameras can now capture 12-14 stops of dynamic range. To do that, cameras have a tendency to compress the highlights and shadows (even aside from log profiles, it seems) so using a target closer to the less compressed mid-tones often results in better white balance.

Definitely worth the read, if you're nerdy like that (I am).

Why Use a Color Chart?

Why would you use a color chart in video and film production or post production? With a color chart like the X-Rite Color Checker Passport Video, you can set your exposure and white balance quickly during your shoot, and in post you can quickly and easily color correct your footage. But perhaps more importantly, a color chart can help you learn how to produce better video and how to color correct and grade your footage more effectively. Using a chart can teach you how your camera reacts to and interprets color and light and that will help you make better decisions when shooting and editing. In this demo, we look quickly at some ways you can use a color chart in editing/post production to fix exposure and especially color balance issues. We also quickly look at using a color chart to understand how your camera interprets different colors and reacts to different light sources. The demo includes manual color and exposure correction using the X-Rite Color Checker Passport Video and automatic color and exposure correction using Color Finale, a third-party color grading plugin for Final Cut Pro X

This one is a pretty nerdy episode, so if you don’t really have the interest or 12 minutes to invest, you are now dismissed from class. ;-)