Recently, Digital Zoetrope Productions worked with filmmaker Daphne Stacey to produce an independent film entitled In A Moment. The film was shot exclusively with our Sony F5 Cinealta Digital Cinema camera and utilized that camera’s S-Log2 gamma curve setting. What the Sony F5’s S-Log2 gamma setting allows you to do, is to record a scene with a “flat” picture profile that keeps most of the original information from the camera’s sensor. Essentially, this profile is as close as the camera can record to a RAW setting without actually using the AXS-R5 RAW Recorder with the Sony F5.
Shooting in S-Log2’s flat profile allows us to color correct the final image immensely without sacrificing image quality. S-Log2 preserves the dynamic range of a shot, meaning that information from both the highlights and shadows are recorded for use by your editing/color correction system. In the case of In A Moment, color correction was done exclusively in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014 utilizing a combination of built-in color correction filters and Look Up Tables (LUT) from James Miller’s excellent Deluts collection.
Here is a sample of the difference in the S-Log2 footage and the color corrected footage: (Click to enlarge to their original 4K size)
Color Corrected Canon F5
The above sample was color corrected using Miller’s Liverpool LUT at 20% opacity and Adobe Premiere Pro’s RGB Curves and Fast Color Correction effects. This helped us achieve a dark, somber mood look to the footage.
This sample utilized Miller’s Lichfield LUT at 100% opacity and Adobe Premiere Pro’s RGB Curves and Fast Color Correction effects.
Lastly, this scene was color corrected using Miller’s Lichfield LUT at 100% opacity and RGB Curves and Fast Color Corrector. The saturation was also increased to about 120% since the mood of this scene is more hopeful than the previous two scenes.
Often times, when working in the realm of TV commercials, one is faced with trying to pull off the best looking spot possible with a small budget. Such was the case on a recent shoot where I was producing two spots for Tight Line Productions whose client was a medical company. We were shooting entirely on-location and much of it was outdoors. The actors/spokesperson would be delivering their lines on-location as well so audio was a concern.
Now I personally love shallow depth of field. In fact, I think it can sometimes be the number one thing that makes a tv spot look “high end”. When you’re shooting with low budget HD cameras, being able to pull off shallow depth of field immediately raises the bar of your footage. Unfortunately, most low cost HD cameras have fixed lenses and small, 1/3 inch CCD sensors and getting that shallow DOF look is almost impossible. That is where HDSLRs come in as an extremely cost effective alternative.
Disclaimer, I hate recording audio with HDSLRs. They are NOT proper video cameras and consequently they do not have, what I consider, proper features conducive to recording quality audio. No audio meters, no XLR inputs, no where to mount a lav receiver pack, etc. I just never feel comfortable recording audio to a HDSLR.
Consequently, I brought both my Panasonic HVX-200 and my Canon 60D to the shoot with the intention of shooting each take with both with the HVX handling all of the audio duties.
During the shoot, it also came up that we needed a fairly long dolly shot to open the spot with. Unfortunately, using a skateboard dolly on a golf course isn’t as easy as it sounds due to the uneven ground. (The constant planes landing at a nearby airport didn’t help to much either!) Consequently, every test pass I did with the 60D really pronounced the rolling shutter issues associated with HDSLRs and made the shot useless. The decision was made to use the HVX for the dolly shot and then use the 60D for the close ups and the final swing of the club at the end of the dolly shot.
So this led to us having to match the two shots in post. As you might expect, the Panasonic HVX200 and Canon 60D have very different “looks” to them. The HVX footage has a bit of a green tint to it and didn’t handle the highlights as well, while the 60D is a lot warmer with more dynamic range. (I used the Technicolor Cinestyle on the 60D. You can download it here.) The fact that the sky was completely overcast did not help, as our talent’s white hair tended to blend too much into the sky. Below are two non-color corrected shots to compare.
Using Final Cut Pro’s basic color correction filter along with a Magic Bullet Quicklook, I was able to better match the footage. This was really helpful because it means you can (hopefully) seamlessly use both a low cost, proper HD Camera on a shot and still use a HDSLR for those all important shallow depth of field shots. Take a look at the final product above…