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How Important is 10-Bit Really?


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I shoot in 8 bit. The 2 extra bits I don't have are talent and skill. Those are the bits I need most to be honest.

Well I guess if you are Really good at exposure, proper lighting, not shooting into the sun, etc, 8 bit works. It has somehow worked for many years, But in a professional venue they have every ba

We just had an interview graded with the director of a big franchise release that was shot on an A7RII in SLog. Producer says he was surprised because this shooter was supposed to bring an FS7. The in

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1 hour ago, dbp said:

I don't consider myself to be a crazy pixel peeper, but the crappy gradations with 8 bit footage under certain conditions really sticks out. 

I consider it a lot more important than many of the other things complain about with image quality. 

Agreed, but those certain conditions don't happen a lot on the stuff I shoot, so 8-bit 4k for me!

2 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Can you sahre any of your secret sauce for taking care of it in post??? Thanks in advance.

After effects + masking w/blur, NR, layer blending, and adding grain.  The usual.  No secret.

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3 hours ago, Mark Romero 2 said:

Thanks for sharing your insights and for the advice.

A few follow up questions if I may;

Could you better define "thin footage" for me? I hear lots of people says this (in particular about 8-bit footage), but I never seem to get a clear idea of what specifically they mean. Does the footage lack saturation? Vibrancy? Accutance? DR? A combination of missing a little bit of a LOT of things? (meaning, a combination of lacking a bit of contrast, a bit of vibrancy, a bit of saturation, a bit of DR?)

Also, regarding ways to clean up banding in post. Besides the aforementioned noise reduction in post, what other ways are there to deal with it?

And finally, you mentioned "shoot to mitigate it." Any tips on how to shoot to mitigate it?

I believe “thin” is a term taken from film development. A thin negative is underexposed, and can’t be processed or manipulated without introducing photochemical artifacts (grain, color isses, etc.). So a thin digital file is any that's hard to work with in post without introducing artifacts (banding, grain, color problems, etc.). I believe "thin" generally refers to exposure problems and/or problems with the file itself (low bitrate, low bit depth, etc.).

The confusing thing is that some digital cameras look good overexposed (ETTR), particularly raw cameras like the Red, whereas other cameras with heavily compressed log codecs will be “thin” in the highlights. So overexposing will introduce the most banding and the worst colors there. Sony cameras also seem to need the right white balance, whereas with Red you can change it with little penalty other than noise. But then the Sonys have way better low light.

The best solution is to know your camera well and is expose properly and white balance properly. (I set my white balance to 5600K and then forget it most of the time, but it depends on the camera.) You might also consider an external recorder if you're going crazy in post. I've seen very good A7S footage from external recorders, but shot by DPs way more technical than me! Some crazy stuff with a Q7+ and a custom LUT that pulled SLOG2 two stops from 3200 ISO to 800ISO. Looked really nice.

There are good debanding tools in Resolve, I believe. I’ve never had a problem with banding in footage, so I’ve never used them. In After Effects you can use the scatter plug in on gradients (not ideal), or Sapphire deband (expensive, but should be excellent). But I think Resolve has a debanding tool that's good?

Fwiw, I disagree with an earlier post claiming that 10 bit acquisition is unheard of on big productions. I’m mostly a hobbyist but the bigger stuff I work on (not as a director or DP) is always either 10 bit ProRes or RAW acquisition, I wold say more than 99% of the time. 

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1 hour ago, fuzzynormal said:

Agreed, but those certain conditions don't happen a lot on the stuff I shoot, so 8-bit 4k for me!

After effects + masking w/blur, NR, layer blending, and adding grain.  The usual.  No secret.

Thanks for the tips on dealing with it.

17 minutes ago, HockeyFan12 said:

I believe “thin” is a term taken from film development. A thin negative is underexposed, and can’t be processed or manipulated without introducing photochemical artifacts (grain, color isses, etc.). So a thin digital file is any that's hard to work with in post without introducing artifacts (banding, grain, color problems, etc.). I believe "thin" generally refers to exposure problems and/or problems with the file itself (low bitrate, low bit depth, etc.).

The confusing thing is that some digital cameras look good overexposed (ETTR), particularly raw cameras like the Red, whereas other cameras with heavily compressed log codecs will be “thin” in the highlights. So overexposing will introduce the most banding and the worst colors there. Sony cameras also seem to need the right white balance, whereas with Red you can change it with little penalty other than noise. But then the Sonys have way better low light.

The best solution is to know your camera well and is expose properly and white balance properly. (I set my white balance to 5600K and then forget it most of the time, but it depends on the camera.) You might also consider an external recorder if you're going crazy in post. I've seen very good A7S footage from external recorders, but shot by DPs way more technical than me! Some crazy stuff with a Q7+ and a custom LUT that pulled SLOG2 two stops from 3200 ISO to 800ISO. Looked really nice.

There are good debanding tools in Resolve, I believe. I’ve never had a problem with banding in footage, so I’ve never used them. In After Effects you can use the scatter plug in on gradients (not ideal), or Sapphire deband (expensive, but should be excellent). But I think Resolve has a debanding tool that's good?

Fwiw, I disagree with an earlier post claiming that 10 bit acquisition is unheard of on big productions. I’m mostly a hobbyist but the bigger stuff I work on (not as a director or DP) is always either 10 bit ProRes or RAW acquisition, I wold say more than 99% of the time. 

Thanks for the clarification and thanks for the thoughts on how to deal with banding. Hopefully debanding is in the free version of resolve.

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I've used the same technique to remove banding as well as moire in the past. In Premiere Pro, make an adjustment layer over the affected clip, and set the colour blend mode to "color". Then drag a Gaussian Blur effect onto the adjustment layer, and use the mask tools to mask out the unaffected part of the frame. If you look closely it doesn't remove the pattern completely, but it does remove the colour banding which I find is good enough for most applications. Also, if you get a lot of banding in your footage check to see if it's the LUT that is causing it -- I've noticed in the past that some of the LUTs I was using would occasionally cause horrible banding. 

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Hmmm...

Wolfcrow seems to imply that there isn't much of a difference 150Mbs 10-bit and 150Mbs 8 bit. He said he expected a bigger difference between 8 and 10-bit footage after upgrading to the 400Mbs codec (although it doesn't look like he actually made a video comparing the differences between 8-bit and 10-bit at 400Mbs).

 

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In theory there should be difference in colors, in practice there is none at least for Sony's A7 series and Pana GH4/5.  Sareesh / Wolfcrow / says in the clip above that there is no visual difference and you are not suppose to see such difference. Since first Sony A7S and Pana GH4 watched reviews and clips comparing internal recording (8 bith 4:2:0) with external (8 or 10 bit 4:2:2) and never saw a difference. Downloaded original clips, compared them, same thing. You can check Dave Dugdale tests too. Same thing 

Is the GH5 10bit a Game Changer over the 8bit Sony a6500?

GH5 Conclusions with James Drake

8 bit vs 10 bit Cameras from Two View Points Amateur and Professional Colorist

Dave argues also that there is no banding in Sony's 4K A7R/A7S II internal recording.
Maybe it's a result of a particular implementation by the manufacturers in those class of cameras. Maybe not. 
But there is no visual difference. Higher bit rate and better codec on the other hand will help in post and color grading. But you can get them with external recorder.

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6 hours ago, stephen said:

In theory there should be difference in colors, in practice there is none at least for Sony's A7 series and Pana GH4/5.  Sareesh / Wolfcrow / says in the clip above that there is no visual difference and you are not suppose to see such difference. Since first Sony A7S and Pana GH4 watched reviews and clips comparing internal recording (8 bith 4:2:0) with external (8 or 10 bit 4:2:2) and never saw a difference. Downloaded original clips, compared them, same thing. You can check Dave Dugdale tests too. Same thing 

Is the GH5 10bit a Game Changer over the 8bit Sony a6500?

GH5 Conclusions with James Drake

8 bit vs 10 bit Cameras from Two View Points Amateur and Professional Colorist

Dave argues also that there is no banding in Sony's 4K A7R/A7S II internal recording.
Maybe it's a result of a particular implementation by the manufacturers in those class of cameras. Maybe not. 
But there is no visual difference. Higher bit rate and better codec on the other hand will help in post and color grading. But you can get them with external recorder.

Just shooting circumstances, only that ; ) even though, in theory and practice, codec and bit rate may help... :-)

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34 minutes ago, andrgl said:

lol come on, you've never shot a sky or a wall with a subtle shift in light intensity across it?

banding exists in all 8bit footage

Of course i did.

But i have never seen banding problem on my footages, and i shoot SLOG2 very often.

I'm using Davinci Resolve for colorgrading and mostly Premiere users complain about banding.

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1 hour ago, hijodeibn said:

it is not 8-bit the issue, you should not have banding in 8-bit 422, the issue depending light conditions is in 8-bit 420,  and probably 10-bit 420.....

Maybe a lot less, than not have banding at all, you can get banding on about any camera if you screw up exposure big time in bright areas, but a real improvement.

People don't pay for cameras that cost 10's of thousands to get 10 bit or higher, 4.4.4, Raw, etc. if there is no gain to be seen. Every bit, a pun, helps.

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1 minute ago, webrunner5 said:

Maybe a lot less, than not have banding at all, but a real improvement.

To be honest I did a lot of tests with a C100 using an external recorded and later compared 8-bit 420 with 8-bit 422, and yes, I did see some color differences in some areas of the sky, specially during sunset, but really nothing dramatic, and I never saw the banding which some people has showed in other topics, probably the 4K readout of the C100 is preventing this to happen....anyway I am still shooting with the external recorded....;) just to make sure!!!

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2 hours ago, andrgl said:

lol come on, you've never shot a sky or a wall with a subtle shift in light intensity across it?

banding exists in all 8bit footage

I categorically disagree. I've done extensive tests with everything from dSLRs to high end cinema cameras. With high end cameras shooting near-uncompressed codecs (raw codecs, ProRes 444, etc.) I couldn't incite any banding in 8 bit transcodes, even very flat log transcodes, without first doing noise reduction (or working with footage that had already undergone noise reduction or compression in camera).

In most cases, the difference between 8 bit and 10 bit was completely invisible until I zoomed in to 800% and there's a tiny increase in noise in the 8 bit transcodes.

I'm not saying my dSLR doesn't have banding in video, though. It has plenty. But it's from poor in-camera processing and a low bitrate, not low bit depth. In my mind, bit depth has to do with tonality and banding is more an issue of bitrate.

I challenge you to take 10 bit Alexa or F35 footage, even in log, transcode it to an uncompressed 8 bit codec, apply a LUT or a grade, and find any banding (without destroying the image completely in other ways to intentionally muck it up). The noise in the image will dither things out so as to completely obviate any banding. The only difference you'll see between the camera original and the 8 bit transcode is a hit to tonality (higher contrast noise, almost like a subtle sharpening).

Even a one bit image can avoid banding with proper dithering:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_depth

(Fwiw, the "8 bit" image there is 256 shades of color, not 256 shades of gray per color channel. When we discuss "8 bit" we mean per channel, or 24 bit total, 16.7 million colors. And the dithering in those examples isn't perfect, but you can see how it reduces banding even at extreme low bit depths. The "8 bit" image there, which has next to no banding visible, would be 2.7 bits per channel.)

Maybe my eyes are going or I need to upgrade my monitor (the reference I was using was a Flanders Scientific panel, but it was an 8 bit tv panel, not a 10 bit video panel, so perhaps I was blind to something), but what you're writing completely contradicts all my experience nonetheless. 

But I am open to the possibility of my eyes not being very good. I can't tell the difference between an 8 bit and 10 bit grading panel. But I recommend running your own tests on Alexa footage to see if you have the same experience I have.

16 minutes ago, hijodeibn said:

To be honest I did a lot of tests with a C100 using an external recorded and later compared 8-bit 420 with 8-bit 422, and yes, I did see some color differences in some areas of the sky, specially during sunset, but really nothing dramatic, and I never saw the banding which some people has showed in other topics, probably the 4K readout of the C100 is preventing this to happen....anyway I am still shooting with the external recorded....;) just to make sure!!!

I'm contradicting my above post a bit, but I have seen banding with the C100. Granted, extremely little, but it's there at times. As good as that camera is, it's too clean in the highlights, which are heavily compressed in log, and the AVCHD compression is very heavy and prone to fall apart completely in challenging circumstances, if surprisingly good in easy circumstances. It's a 100X better than an A7S, though. Well, in that regard at least. Worse in many others. Some day I'll have to get my hands on one and try shooting flat walls overexposed with an external recorder... not sure if there will be banding or not.

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