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Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading

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Zvi Landsman
Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Jan 18, 2019 at 10:03:10 am

Hi Guys.
I'm a chief cinematographer for a TV show. I'm looking for a picture profile that can get us to deliver best looking footage without any grading. We are about to do extensive testing, but I thought you may have some leads.
We are shooting with 3 Sony FS5 setups, when we are on tripods.
Then we also integrate gimbal work with a6500, a7sii or a7iii. We currently have only one of each of these alpha cameras, but we need to use 2 of them at the same time, and they need to match with each other and with the FS5's if possible.
We shoot NTSC 4K 30p, and sometimes slow-mo HD 60p or 120p.
We have noticed that the 4K from the a6500 is the sharpest, but we would use the other cameras if we find that they match better.

An important thing is we need maximum dynamic range, we are shooting it very contrasty sun much of the year (in Israel...)
So far we have been using S-log 2, exposing 1.5-2 stops over, and putting a LUT in post that corrects for that. But we want to get it ready out of the camera, and to have matching colors from all cameras.
We have been using the "X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Video" to match colors, but it's still too different, and takes too long to match in post.

Any ideas?
- PS we were thinking of using the "natural" profile for the alphas, but there is no parallel in the FS5. do you know of one, or have a profile that emulates it?
Thanks!
T.L.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Jan 18, 2019 at 7:25:09 pm

So let me first say that I'm doing the same thing with FS7 and A7III, just on a smaller scale.

My first reaction is to point out that you're asking for two completely incompatible things: maximum dynamic range, and usable straight-out-of-camera. So first, you'll need to decide which of these is most important to you, and pursue a solution to that. Frankly, I don't see why SLog2 isn't your best solution; applying a LUT in post can take less than 15 seconds for all of your clips on the timeline (at least in Premiere):
1: Add clips to timeline
2: Add Lumetri Color to first clip
3: Apply your LUT from the drop-down
4: Copy the clip, highlight the other clips in the timeline, and "Paste Attributes" to the other clips. You're done!

Beyond that, what you need to do is hook up your cameras to a monitor with a waveform and scope, and start fiddling with custom color profiles until you can match the waveforms and vectors. Frankly, even shooting straight to a Rec709 STD gamma profile which is supposed to be identical on the FS7 and A7III (with identical white balance settings), I still have to do some corrections in post. Every individual camera will have slight variations in Hue shift, and 10-bit color vs 8-bit color is non-trivial, too; my FS7 picks up a number of orange shades in skin tones that the A7III just can't seem to see, so I have to compensate for that.

Ultimately, I've found that it's a lot easier to match SLog2 material than it is Rec709, simply because you have more information available to you.


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Tsvi Landsman
Re: Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Jan 19, 2019 at 4:19:38 pm

Thanks for your help.
I've been doing what you suggest in this show for a few years, S-log 2 and a LUT, but the S-log isn't identical, and we want a profile that does the color matching in advance, if we can (this may fail and we will return to S-log).
Plus - if we leave S-log we'll get a cleaner image.
Currently we over expose to compensate for it, but the different camera operators don't nail the over exposure the same. that also causes issues.
As for dynamic range - of course I won't get MAXIMUM dynamic range if I abandon S-log, what I mean is the maximum possible AS LONG AS the image still looks good out of the camera. There are multiple options to do that, some with more and some with less dynamic range. I need the ones with more.
I tried working with the "Still" color profile once, with a few tweets. It did look great, but it is an especially low dynamic range profile, and we couldn't get images of both sun and shade in the same frame at all. That's too much.

As we test, I'll try your idea with the vectroscopes - that's a good one. Thanks!


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Blaise Douros
Re: Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Jan 22, 2019 at 9:48:52 pm

Yeah, I definitely understand where you're coming from. It's a tough problem, and one that really can only be solved by a completely manual camera setup on scopes. Good luck!


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Tsvi Landsman
Re: Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Jan 28, 2019 at 6:47:51 pm

OK - after testing, grading in the computer, and emulating the results in the Picture Profile menu - HERE IS MY NEW PP:
Gamma: Cine4
Color mode/matrix: Pro
Saturation: +5
Black level: -5 on the mirrorless, -10 on the FS5
All the rest is as default.
It looks the exact same on all cameras, carries enormous dynamic range, while being ready to use and good looking without grading.
Hope this helps you! If I change it after use in the field I'll let you guys know.



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Blaise Douros
Re: Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Jan 30, 2019 at 7:54:41 pm

I will have to give this a try--matching those two cameras drives me nuts. Thanks for sharing!


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Chad Mitchell
Re: Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Sep 24, 2019 at 2:07:28 pm

This was exactly what I needed - thank you!! Am going to give this a try next week.
Any updates at all?

Cheers!


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Tsvi Landsman
Re: Best FS5+Alpha Picture Profile, no grading
on Sep 26, 2019 at 8:36:21 am

Just FYI:
The editor had some trouble matching these profiles in the end.
The thing is that when filming with different cameras you should nail your exposure exactly the same, otherwise the colors drift. I found in Sony the highs are yellow and the lows are blue.
Anyway, the editor preferred we go back to S-log 2, and that he will color grade it anyway. So that is where we are now.
If you are using this profile, please let me know how it works for you!
All the best!


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