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creating presets

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Rob Grauertcreating presets
by on Mar 17, 2008 at 3:12:29 pm

Every time I look at a camera I may be interested in purchasing, the review often includes whether or not the camera is capable of making adjustments to create a desired "look." My teachers at school however, have always told us that when we shoot, we should shoots the cleanest picture possible and make any adjustments in post. That way, if you want to make changes, you're not stuck with the "look" you initially shot. That sounds logical to me, so is whether or not a camera can create a "look" really that important?


Rob G

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Douglas Spotted EagleRe: creating presets
by on Mar 17, 2008 at 3:55:17 pm

so is whether or not a camera can create a "look" really that important?

That's subjective, but a very valid question.
It may be you want a unique look for an episodic or for a series of disconnected scenes, so you'd create those looks in-camera, because pushing the content in post might have a negative impact on your overall quality, ie; gradient banding, color bleed, etc.
However, with todays tools and conversions, it's possible to create scenarios where you *can* really push various color aspects without a lot of worry about where it takes you, *if* you're willing to invest the time.
I'm not a huge fan of in-camera looks, except in specific situations, but then again, that's what the in-camera looks are for, IMO. Specific situations. I used some cinema gammas and pushed color in-camera only this morning to capture time-lapse sunrise, so I suppose I must not dislike them too much.

Douglas Spotted Eagle

Certified Sony Vegas Trainer
Aerial Camera/Instructor

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Michael SloweRe: creating presets
by on Mar 18, 2008 at 3:53:36 pm

In the very good Vortex Media DVD instructing on the use of the new Sony EX1 camera the instuctor (Doug Jensen) goes through the settings that he prefers and they do look much better than the default ones do. He seems to be a pretty experienced cameraman and he increases the colour saturation slightly and changes gamma and black also. Of course changes can be made in post but all that takes time to apply.

Michael Slowe

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Jeff CarpenterRe: creating presets
by on Mar 19, 2008 at 9:18:23 pm

Well, for the most part, the teachers are right. But here's something I often use on my V1U.

You know how you don't want to over-expose images or peak the audio because those things aren't fixable? So you might record a tiny bit dark or the audio a little low and then raise it all in post, just to be safe. Right?

Well, I also try to be safe on the opposite end: my black level. If the "sort of dark" and the "really dark" parts of my image come out all the same black, there's nothing I can do.

So I turn on a feature that stretches the blacks out. It gives the image a slightly more washed-out look. It's not really what I want and I often lower my black levels again in post to UNDO the effect I creaetd in camera! But it gives me the option of playing with it a little more and there's less chance I'll totally lose detail in places I want to save it later.

So that's an example of me messing up my shot on purpose with a "look" just so I have even more post options later. When you get down to it, this is an example that proves your teachers MORE right (I'm putting the work onto the post-production side) but I point it out because it is an example of using some of those adjustments you're talking about. So the two concepts aren't exclusive. The features can be used to further the goal of giving yourself options later.

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Rob GrauertRe: creating presets
by on Mar 20, 2008 at 1:08:47 am

That make sense to me. But what's the point of saving a preset if I'll pretty much always be shooting at a new location. No situation is ever the same. So if I saved a preset, I'd have to adjust it from location to location anyway. So why bother saving it? Is there a lot to adjust? I have no idea because I've been shooting with a GL2 since high school and it doesn't have the option of adjusting presets. (well you can save presets, but I don't think has nearly as many options to adjust as a more advanced camera does).

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Todd TerryRe: creating presets
by on Mar 20, 2008 at 2:28:00 am

[Rob Grauert] "But what's the point of saving a preset if I'll pretty much always be shooting at a new location. No situation is ever the same."

True, every situation is different, but presets can be invaluable as a "starting point."

On the particular camera that we usually use (the Canon XLH1) there are more than 20 different adjustible parameters... and we have made different presets that emulate our favorite filmstocks. So if we have been inside and want the look of Kodak 5274, we push a button. Go outside and want Fuji 8563, push another. Sometimes there is tweaking to be done, but it's much much easier than starting from scratch... especially considering that we took quite a long time nudging and tweaking until the different looks were exactly like we wanted. It would be impractical to do that much on location.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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