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jonpais

How Many Stops of Dynamic Range Needed for Cinematic Look?

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Supposedly, the GH5 only has around 11 or so stops of dynamic range. How many stops of dynamic range would you consider adequate for a filmic look? 

The following clips were shot with the GH5, Olympus 45mm f/1.2 PRO and the following settings: HLG, ISO 400, ALL-Intra 400 Mbps

 

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Yep the footage looks great. 

Most of the time it is the excessive contrast that is problematic. Also another aspect of the dynamic range is not so much the range itself as much as how the highlights (and color) rolloff to clipping. Hard clips with hue shifts are something that you rarely see in cinemas. Sometimes you even have hard clipping in the shadows but that is most often a fault of the processing of a camera and not the sensor. 

Once you have control of the lights dynamic range of the camera is not important. Even for outdoor scenes where there is a strong light from the sun you can use reflectors to balance the shadows. So I would say if someone wants a cinematic look the best way is to learn how to use light cause even 15 stops won't help :) 

In my experience for everyday use with no control of light, I would be happy with 12 stops and no hard clipping. 

 

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11 minutes ago, jonpais said:

Supposedly, the GH5 only has around 11 or so stops of dynamic range. How many stops of dynamic range would you consider adequate for a filmic look?

Its a bit of a how long is a piece of string question but if you based it purely on this year's Oscars you'd say 'how many does the Alexa have?' which is 14.

Purely arbitrary though as, judging from that clip, I'd say you're doing just fine without the other 3 ;)

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Film stocks in the 1970s-1980s only had about 8 stops dynamic range. @jonpais, your question is - with due respect - a bit misguided. It doesn't matter how much dynamic range the film stock or camera has, but whether the dynamic range of the scene you're shooting fits within the dynamic range of  the camera (or film stock).

With a camera that only has 8 stops dynamic range, you light your scene in such a way that its contrast ratio stays within a ratio of 1:256. If necessary, you block or filter highlights that would blow out, and brighten up shadows that would be cut off. (This is exactly what the GH2 team did during the infamous 2012 Zacuto shootout - light the studio scene in such a way that it fit the camera's limited dynamic range and thus made its footage competitive with the material shot on Alexa and RED.)

Tightly controlled light was the working formula for the Hollywood studio system from the 1930s to the 1960s, too. That only changed in the 1970s when New Hollywood directors like Scorsese adopted methods of documentary filmmaking and the French Nouvelle Vague and shot under available light in the streets.

If you can't control the light of your scene, you have to find a location whose light fits the camera's dynamic range. 

In that sense, a camera with better dynamic range will always give you more possibilities in shooting situations where you have limited or no control over the light.

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4 hours ago, mkabi said:

I feel that its gotten down to a point where now we are all nitpicking.

 

at this point its about how good we are as camera operators. You could give us 28 stops of DR tomorrow and it wouldn't be enough LOL

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41 minutes ago, kidzrevil said:

at this point its about how good we are as camera operators. 

You assume that a good camera operator has control over their environment.  Try doing any documentary work outside in direct sunlight and it won't matter how good an operator you are - if your camera doesn't have enough DR you're going to be clipping highlights or crushing blacks or both at the same time in the same shot.

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7 minutes ago, kye said:

and it won't matter how good an operator you are

As a doc director/producer/shooter I can agree with this...and also disagree with this.  A good shooter can and will find the best angle for light even in bad lighting situations.  Changing the perspective of a shot for better light is always an option.  It's not always easy, but that's part of the craft.  Making good cinematic decisions under the gun is doable.  So, you don't control the light, but you do control how the camera sees it.

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24 minutes ago, kye said:

You assume that a good camera operator has control over their environment.  Try doing any documentary work outside in direct sunlight and it won't matter how good an operator you are - if your camera doesn't have enough DR you're going to be clipping highlights or crushing blacks or both at the same time in the same shot.

When I look at what is suppose to be 13 stops on a BMPCC, seems like enough to me. But a Sony A7s is suppose to have that much, maybe more, and it doesn't look like enough. And like has been said when it is delivered in Rec. 709 at around 7 stops hmm, heck I don't really know what is good. But no doubt more IS better.

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My feeling is that there is an element to which the 'filmic look' gets confused with dynamic range. For instance, we tend to associate 'log' footage with both 'high dynamic range' and the 'filmic look'.

Log footage is 'low contrast' and 'low saturation' irrespective of how much dynamic range is actually in the scene. And we associate low contrast and low saturation with a filmic look.

If you take a look at Jon's footage, you can see it doesnt contain a lot of stops of dynamic range (see histogram) and even the orange shirt is pretty desaturated (see color wheel).

dr.thumb.jpg.cbfcc37109767979de89a943bfaa9dd5.jpg

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1 hour ago, kye said:

You assume that a good camera operator has control over their environment.  Try doing any documentary work outside in direct sunlight and it won't matter how good an operator you are - if your camera doesn't have enough DR you're going to be clipping highlights or crushing blacks or both at the same time in the same shot.

Im not assuming and I have 😌

This was shot in SLOG2 and compressed to the 6-7 stops of REC709 gamma

There’s ways around it OR you can choose what you want to keep and what you want to lose. I don’t mind choosing between crushing shadows or blowing highlights as long as my midtones are preserved and my composition is balanced.

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1 hour ago, noone said:

Wouldn't it depend on what was being shot?

15 stops in a really dark night scene might look as poor (for different reasons) as 7 stops in a really well lit colourful flower garden.

Exactly. There is little to nothing that will go beyond a 6-7 stop range at night. It all depends on whats being shot

1 hour ago, fuzzynormal said:

As a doc director/producer/shooter I can agree with this...and also disagree with this.  A good shooter can and will find the best angle for light even in bad lighting situations.  Changing the perspective of a shot for better light is always an option.  It's not always easy, but that's part of the craft.  Making good cinematic decisions under the gun is doable.  So, you don't control the light, but you do control how the camera sees it.

Pretty much. In a situation where the contrast ratio is too high I just change the composition. Composing your image to get all the detail you need in the DR you have saves you a lot of headaches. 

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2 hours ago, fuzzynormal said:

As a doc director/producer/shooter I can agree with this...and also disagree with this.  A good shooter can and will find the best angle for light even in bad lighting situations.  Changing the perspective of a shot for better light is always an option.  It's not always easy, but that's part of the craft.  Making good cinematic decisions under the gun is doable.  So, you don't control the light, but you do control how the camera sees it.

 

1 hour ago, kidzrevil said:

Im not assuming and I have 😌

This was shot in SLOG2 and compressed to the 6-7 stops of REC709 gamma

There’s ways around it OR you can choose what you want to keep and what you want to lose. I don’t mind choosing between crushing shadows or blowing highlights as long as my midtones are preserved and my composition is balanced.

It all comes down to how much control you have.  

I fully agree that the operator has way more control and options than the average amateur thinks are possible - otherwise the famous street photographers (HCB, Maier, Winogrand, etc) were just the luckiest people in the universe!  I have done enough street photography and wildlife photography to be able to feel the split in my brain where one part is thinking about the shot I'm taking and the other part is thinking about what is about to happen, what shots are likely to be available and how I would capture the best one.  Highly skilled street photographers could have one eye on the viewfinder composing a shot while the other was open and surveying the broader scene looking for what was about to enter the field of view.  I'm good enough at this to know what is possible but also how bad I am at it.

However, there are always situations where you have no control.  You have no control about where your vantage point is, if, for example, you are sitting in a packed moving vehicle shooting out the window (tour bus, helicopter, train, plane), or when you're at the zoo looking at the animals from the lookout that is only wide enough for a couple of people to stand in at the same time.  In a vehicle you get to control framing, and camera position within a space about maybe 50x50x50cm perhaps, but that's it.  
Sometimes you don't have control about where the subject is, kids running in the park in-between areas of full sun and full shade (and the full shade is relatively dark because vegetation is pretty good at absorbing light).  

My approach to these situations where you are restricted about where you can shoot from, or the lighting on the subject you're shooting is two-fold:
1) Just film a lot - "spray and pray" as it's called.  This is partly valid as the more you film the more likely you are to get a great moment, but it also means that when you're in the edit room you are able to replace great content that has unusable levels with other great content that does have useable levels.
2) Understand that you are not always going to get the shot from the best angle - either by lack of options, lack of skill, or both - and just buy a camera with more DR.  This is what I am talking about here.

If your video is about your families trip to the park, and your kid is happiest when they're running, and the bad lighting was where they were running before everyone sat down to ate and then the kids all fell asleep, good luck in the edit suite looking at one of the nicest pieces of footage you have from the outing and trying to decide between the best content and it not being noisy or clipped all to hell.

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