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How can I make the color grader happy?

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Lee McEachern
How can I make the color grader happy?
on Apr 19, 2020 at 9:27:16 pm
Last Edited By Lee McEachern on Apr 20, 2020 at 12:23:46 am

I have a final shoot on a self-funded documentary coming up and I’m wondering whether I should change horses in the middle of the stream: I’ve been shooting straight natural color with my Panasonic GH4 on this project in the bush/savanna in East Africa and have a heck of a lot of material. (This did not start as a “serious” documentary shoot and I just used the best camera that I owned. Probably would have started with another camera if I had more foresight but I’m quite happy with what I have, anyway.)

In the past few months my story, structure, etc. has evolved/changed considerably. That means the final shoot will be very important and will probably deliver a large percentage of the material that makes it into the final film. I’m now shooting with a GH5 and wondering whether I should shoot a flatter image — either Cinelike D or V-Log L — on this last shoot. Would the color-grader (whomever that might be) hate me if I were to make that change mid-stream or will he/she be relieved to have a lot of the important material shot that way, even though he/she will also be working with a lot of the earlier material? Thanks for any guidance.


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Chris Wright
Re: How can I make the color grader happy?
on Apr 20, 2020 at 11:06:58 pm

if you shoot flatter later on, you'll probably get more dynamic range available for grading. this will also mean that either you'll have to decide to have mis-matched dynamic range or grade to the lowest common denominator(older footage). if your newer stuff is in a completely different location, you might be able to ignore the mis-match as a creative difference, but you're intersplicing, it may be jarring. As to a grader disliking extra dynamic range, I don't think it's necessarily extra work and may even be less work because they may not have to fix as many blown out skies.


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Lee McEachern
Re: How can I make the color grader happy?
on Apr 21, 2020 at 12:29:49 am

Hi Chris.
Thanks for taking the time. I do understand that shooting flatter gives more dynamic range which, in most cases, is a good thing. But, as we both understand, in this case it would complicate things because of differences between the footage in two different shoots. My understanding of that fact is what leads to my underlying question:
Is the benefit of having greater dynamic range in the new footage outweighed by the challenge of having to match the earlier footage with the new?

I'm not sure which option a professional color grader would choose: Make no change and keep things simple or take the advantage of more dynamic range for a significant percentage of the material by shooting it flatter. I think your preference of not switching horses mid-stream sounds very reasonable. But I'd be interested to know from other experts here if there's another side to this before I finalize my decision.


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