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Crushed blacks

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Ken Pugh
Crushed blacks
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:12:34 am

I've just completed my first shoot using a DSLR - the Canon 60D. When comparing scenes shot side by side with my Sony V1 HDV camera, the Canon images have a more 'brittle' quality, the colour is more deeply saturated and the blacks crushed. It gives a richer look - but I had wanted to start out with something more flat, and do the colour correction in post. I have set the Canon menu item PICTURE STYLE to NEUTRAL. Anything else I could try to record something more flat?

Lifting the blacks in post helps (using the FCP 3-way CC), but again what I want is to stretch the blacks to gain more detail, rather than just lift them....

Cheers,

Ken.


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Peter Burger
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:36:55 am

With "Neutral" try to decrease the amount of saturation and contrast (about two ticks down) and maybe reduce sharpness as well to your liking. Most people would agree to reduce sharpness completely and reintroduce it in post.
Out of curiosity: What picture profile did you use on your V1?
I use a custom one for my V1, that I modified from one, I read about in a BBC whitepaper for the V1. It's kinda flat and makes it really easy to match DSRL footage and the HDV footage.

Edit: There are a couple of picture styles for the Canons out there (like "superflat" or "Marvels Cinegamma"), that produce very flat looking pictures. But those are sometimes hard to grade. I never experienced any problems, but from what I read, it seems there have been problems with "superflat" concerning skintones.

Maybe want to take a look at this:
http://www.steveoakley.net/template_permalink.asp?id=172
60D Test with various picture profiles and settings


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Ken Pugh
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 19, 2011 at 8:43:35 am

I've not used any custom profiles on the V1 - left as standard - but made sure contrast enhance was turned off. I'll investigate the BBC whitepaper on the V1 - I'd like to get the two cameras as close as possible. Typically when recording interviews I use the Canon for the wide shot on a tripod, with a Sigma 28mm at f1.8 - to get a nice soft background, and then use the V1 zoomed in for the close up, also enabling a matching soft background where it peeps around the edge of the face. I either record sound on the H4n - or straight into the V1.

Thanks for the tip regarding entering negative numbers in the Canon profile - based on the pictures I've shot the Canon is adding too much contrast at this stage for my liking - and I'll knock back sharpness too.

As a first for me, I've put the V1 into 25p mode to match the Canon - not sure if I like the progressive flicker frame effect yet on a CRT TV screen - but I will persevere. I'm editing into an interlaced timeline in FCP - so any speed up shots are interlaced and hence have smooth motion - and playing out via AJA.

Cheers,

Ken.


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Peter Burger
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 19, 2011 at 9:20:41 am

Glad, I helped!

From what I read, the Canons "Neutral" style provides the best dynamic range, while the "Faithful" style has the most accurate colour representation.
So colour correction might get easier with "Faithful". I haven't done any explicit testing, comparing those two styles, but it seems, that with contrast -4 and saturation -2 the dynamic range is comparable.


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Ken Pugh
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 19, 2011 at 10:58:15 am

Following up your comments, I came across this rather amusing tutorial. It outlines how you can use the Canon picture style editor to create presets to upload to the camera, giving far greater control over achieving a wide flat image than is possible using the built in menu's. It relates to the Canon 5D and 7D, and has links to some ready-made presets that can be uploaded to the camera, although I'm as yet unsure whether a 5d preset would necessarily work with my 60D - or indeed whether this is possible with a 60D? Any experience with uploading presets?

Best,

Ken.



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Peter Burger
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 19, 2011 at 11:23:57 am

I uploaded a couple of Picture Styles on my 550D (or T2i, as it's called in the US) and to my experience it doesn't matter for what Camera the Picture Style was originally intended. So the 5D and 7D styles do work on my 550D as well. To my knowledge the Canon Picture Style Editor is the same for all Canon cameras, so the files (and styles) it produces are the same as well.

I have a couple of Picture Styles on my hard drive, but to be honest, I don't use them at all. I collected them from all over the web and had quite a fun time fooling around with them.

Most of the time I stick to Neutral and Faithful and in (very rare) projects, where I have extra time for grading or in extreme low light situations, I use Superflat, which I find a bit hard to grade.

O.K., and then there is the "Lomo" style - thats a cool one! :)

All the best,

Peter!


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Michael Sacci
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 20, 2011 at 9:15:04 am

There are a lot of the DSLR gurus that simply turn down the settings with out using something like superflat.

Sharpness - (0) all the way to the left
Contrast - all the way to the left
Saturation - all the way to the left or one back
Color Tone - (0) In the middle

This doesn't mess with the curves and seems to be a good compromise between shooting flat and being able to color correct it a little easier.


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Ken Pugh
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:48:10 am

Great thanks. Working on news style documentaries, there's not always a lot of time, or budget to do a comprehensive grade. But one intriguing aspect of using superflat is the claimed 2 stop increase in dynamic range - potentially very useful in low light, or when wanting to balance a bright sky with a dark landscape - anyone much experience with trying this?

Cheers,

Ken.


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Peter Burger
Re: Crushed blacks
on Jan 21, 2011 at 9:54:35 am

Just stumbled upon a new version of the "Marvels Cinegamma" preset.

http://marvelsfilm.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/finally-the-new-marvels-cine-pr...

It seems to be less flat than the previous versions and also less flat than "superflat" but is improved for skintones...

Quote:

"The new profile can made more and less flatter by adjusting the Contrast setting. Even if contrast is set in the middle position (4), it’s still flatter than the usual way of flattening the untouched Neutral profile (w. contrast on zero).
The profile is slightly more colourful than other flat profiles, because it uses the Standard profile as a basis.
The Standard profile setting is used as a basis for this new profile, because the s-curve required this in respect to the skin colours – for colorimetric and exposure reasons."


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