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skiphunt

Grading and LUTs, etc.

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Personally moving on from camera discussions and now focussing on how to get the best grade from what I have. 

 

I know that it's preferable to start with a raw source, or at least flatly shot source if you don't have raw capability... but what I don't get completely, has to do with film emulating LUTs vs just doing all the adjustment/grading yourself from scratch.

 

Have done several tutorials and can get a pretty decent final image with just using the color tools in FCPX. But, then I drop various LUTs on top of that and it often looks even better! 

 

Logically, it seems it'd be best to just get good at dialing in your look from scratch and not fooling with LUTs at all, but there are looks I've seen after applying various LUTs that I can't even fathom getting on my own. 

 

A lot of Brandon Li's footage lists the Osiris LUT for his MK3 raw footage, and some of his RX10 footage as well. 

 

Is it a waste of money buying  something like the Osiris LUT package for use with a Nikon D5300 that isn't raw source? Or, am I better off just spending the time to get the color grade/style looking the way I want without using LUTs at all? Or, is it best to get the basic levels adjusted in FCPX for a generally good look, then stylizing with LUTs like Osiris after the fact? Or, applying the LUT style you want to start off with, and fine tuning the look via the color tools?

 

Sorry for all the questions, but it feels redundant using both the builtin FCPX color tools AND the various LUTs.

 

(PS. I know about Davinci Resolve, etc. but want to stick with getting it with just FCPX for now)

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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

I'm going to answer my own question. I have no idea if this is the "right" way to do this or not, but so far I'm really liking what I'm getting. My D5300 footage is looking awesome! Don't have anything I'm proud enough of to post yet, but this is what I've been doing so far:

 

Adjust the source clip's highs, mids, shadows. Balance color. Add a wee bit of saturation and tiny bit of film grain, along with about a +2 of sharpness. When I have it looking as generally accurate and pleasant as I can using the builtin coloring tools in FCPX, I then add a LUT for style and dial it down to taste. So far that seems to consistently be around 50%. 

 

If anyone sees anything wrong with this approach, please feel free to let me know. 

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I was really surprised that I didn't get any replies to this... until I looked at the subject lines of ALL the threads. This really is a gear-porn-only site and not so much with indie-filmaking as it's ultimate theme. That's in no way a criticism, but I think I've finally got the picture and it's all making sense now. 

 

So, with that in mind... since there are several here who are making short films, travel pieces, art films, music videos, etc. is there another site that's got a good community like this one, but is focussed more on the creative, production, editing, grading, audio design, etc. that goes into it after you've bought your gear? You know, the creation part after you've left the gear store. ;) If so, any recommendations? 

 

Thanks in advance :)

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I was really surprised that I didn't get any replies to this... until I looked at the subject lines of ALL the threads. This really is a gear-porn-only site and not so much with indie-filmaking as it's ultimate theme. That's in no way a criticism, but I think I've finally got the picture and it's all making sense now. 

 

So, with that in mind... since there are several here who are making short films, travel pieces, art films, music videos, etc. is there another site that's got a good community like this one, but is focussed more on the creative, production, editing, grading, audio design, etc. that goes into it after you've bought your gear? You know, the creation part after you've left the gear store. ;) If so, any recommendations? 

 

Thanks in advance :)

 

Found these free tutorials helpful, they really gave me a good idea/starting point for how i should be going about things in FCPX:

 

http://www.colorgradingcentral.com/final-cut-pro-x-color-grading-table-of-contents

 

And yes, this forum is all about the tech.

If CC does come up (see the BM4K thread attacking James Miller's footage), it normally descends into juvenile muscle flexing rubbish.

Its a shame that people don't share more tips for this sort of thing.

 

If you really want to learn more about grading, CC etc...the 2nd edition of this book is excellent & a must buy for anyone wanting to learn or improve - its worth every penny:

 

http://vanhurkman.com/wordpress/?attachment_id=2855#main

 

or this one by the same author:

 

http://vanhurkman.com/wordpress/?attachment_id=2856#main

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Found these free tutorials helpful, they really gave me a good idea/starting point for how i should be going about things in FCPX:

 

http://www.colorgradingcentral.com/final-cut-pro-x-color-grading-table-of-contents

 

And yes, this forum is all about the tech.

If CC does come up (see the BM4K thread attacking James Miller's footage), it normally descends into juvenile muscle flexing rubbish.

Its a shame that people don't share more tips for this sort of thing.

 

If you really want to learn more about grading, CC etc...the 2nd edition of this book is excellent & a must buy for anyone wanting to learn or improve - its worth every penny:

 

http://vanhurkman.com/wordpress/?attachment_id=2855#main

 

or this one by the same author:

 

http://vanhurkman.com/wordpress/?attachment_id=2856#main

 

Awesome. Thanks! I've actually already watched all the Color Central tutorials. Watched them back in December but likely need a reminder. I bought his LUT utility as well. 

 

I dove in yesterday and much of it came back quickly, but will need a refresher. What I wasn't clear on if if mixing LUTs and color correcting is redundant? Destructive? etc. But, I think for me getting good looking general footage first, then tweaking the "style" by mixing in LUT emulators seem to be a good combo. 

 

Gets confusing if I first start with a LUT, then start tweaking levels, etc. The other way around, ie. general adjustment for accuracy, then tweaking a style... is more intuitive.

 

Thanks for the recommendations. 

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To answer one of your questions, the point of using a film emulation lut is due to the fact that color reproduction on film is different than digital. One is a chemical process and the other is electrical after all. As a result shoot a scene with film while have different color tones than digital, While you could grade footage your self to get a more film like color response the emulation luts can do that for you. They are just a starting point however. A proper grade should always follow.

 

Color correction and luts go hand and hand as little or as much of both to get the look your after. As for when you use a lut, generally it is the last step or node since they can crush your black or clip your highlights.

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Awesome. Thanks! I've actually already watched all the Color Central tutorials. Watched them back in December but likely need a reminder. I bought his LUT utility as well. 

 

I dove in yesterday and much of it came back quickly, but will need a refresher. What I wasn't clear on if if mixing LUTs and color correcting is redundant? Destructive? etc. But, I think for me getting good looking general footage first, then tweaking the "style" by mixing in LUT emulators seem to be a good combo. 

 

Gets confusing if I first start with a LUT, then start tweaking levels, etc. The other way around, ie. general adjustment for accuracy, then tweaking a style... is more intuitive.

 

Thanks for the recommendations. 

I recently re-watched them as well & it was good to refresh my memory.

I haven't used any LUTs, but will upgrad my OS & give his plugin a go.

 

I always start by getting the Exposure levels & WB how i want them.

Then if i add a preset/plugin or LUT, in your case, you can go back a tweek stuff to your taste.

Just don't forget to use the scopes etc...

 

Also, you can make your own custom plugins for FCPX in Motion.

 

This guy has some really good free plugins:

http://www.alex4d.com/

http://blog.alex4d.com/fcpx/

 

Really like some of his colour effects plugins.

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To answer one of your questions, the point of using a film emulation lut is due to the fact that color reproduction on film is different than digital. One is a chemical process and the other is electrical after all. As a result shoot a scene with film while have different color tones than digital, While you could grade footage your self to get a more film like color response the emulation luts can do that for you. They are just a starting point however. A proper grade should always follow.

 

Color correction and luts go hand and hand as little or as much of both to get the look your after. As for when you use a lut, generally it is the last step or node since they can crush your black or clip your highlights.

 

Thanks! From playing so far, it looks like it's easier to dial back an aggressive LUT. 

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I recently re-watched them as well & it was good to refresh my memory.

I haven't used any LUTs, but will upgrad my OS & give his plugin a go.

 

I always start by getting the Exposure levels & WB how i want them.

Then if i add a preset/plugin or LUT, in your case, you can go back a tweek stuff to your taste.

Just don't forget to use the scopes etc...

 

Also, you can make your own custom plugins for FCPX in Motion.

 

This guy has some really good free plugins:

http://www.alex4d.com/

http://blog.alex4d.com/fcpx/

 

Really like some of his colour effects plugins.

 

Sweet! I wasn't aware you could create your own plugins in Motion. I've got the latest Motion but haven't played with it much. To be honest, I don't think I've used Motion since way back at version 2 I think.

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Guest 89e2bdf5797fbbdc17c2cc6da1413fa0

I'm pretty much a noob to grading as well, but this is my usual CC workflow (all just using native FCPX colour board etc., no LUT's or FCPX presets).

 

Bring up the luma waveform (I find it really important), and go to the exposure board:

  • Bring the highlights as close to 100 as possible without blowing anything. If there is just one small highlight that has a way bigger spike than all the rest, I sometimes ignore it and let that get blown (bring the others up to 100)
  • Bring the lows down to "0", then I always notch it up quite a bit (between +2 and +10 probably). I then use the midtones to darken the image in the shadows. If I can get the balance right, I find that this tends to give detail in the shadows without sacrificing contrast. It also allows a little colour into the shadows, which seems to give a greater sense (illusion?) of dynamic range.

I don't bother with scopes for saturation:

  • I drag the global slider all the way up then gradually bring it down to where the colours don't look garish. Then I finesse with the high/mid/low sliders. Very often I find desaturating the shadows, bumping the mids a little, and really pushing the highlights (creating a diagonal pattern) results in a natural but punchy look that I like. Less regularly I will push the shadows and highs, and drop the mids (creating a "V" pattern). 

I only use the scopes for the colour board if I'm trying to get an accurate skin tone:

  • I almost always leave the global slider where it is and play around with opposing the highs and lows (complimentary colours). This is the part I find least formulaic - what works is completely dependent on the specific shot. Its fun though. I also watch out for the image breaking up if I'm being very enthusiastic with the sliders.

I'll then usually go back to the exposure board and push it around until I like what I see, without worrying too much about the waveform. 

 

The above was my workflow for my D5300 slow-motion test (which I know you've already seen Skip). It's very heavily graded, and I'm actually really pleased with how it came out. Shot with the in-camera 'Neutral' profile with contrast right down:

 

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I'm pretty much a noob to grading as well, but this is my usual CC workflow (all just using native FCPX colour board etc., no LUT's or FCPX presets).

 

Bring up the luma waveform (I find it really important), and go to the exposure board:

  • Bring the highlights as close to 100 as possible without blowing anything. If there is just one small highlight that has a way bigger spike than all the rest, I sometimes ignore it and let that get blown (bring the others up to 100)
  • Bring the lows down to "0", then I always notch it up quite a bit (between +2 and +10 probably). I then use the midtones to darken the image in the shadows. If I can get the balance right, I find that this tends to give detail in the shadows without sacrificing contrast. It also allows a little colour into the shadows, which seems to give a greater sense (illusion?) of dynamic range.

 

I found out for myself: Grading luma (my first primary CC step as well) is easier for me when I have a grayscale image. Where should the midtones be?

 

Since I know the old Color well and played around with Resolve (guided by vanHurkman's Lynda tut), I know that it's best to follow the processing logic of primarily optimizing all values. In the first step ("Color 1") I want to see every detail. In a later step ("Color x") I decide whether I go for a pseudo HDR look or i.e. crush the blacks for effect.

 

Therefore I first go to the saturation tab and pull all color from the image before switching to the exposure tab. 

 

I also tried LUT utility and Osiris. Like skiphunt, I found a mix of some LUTs with my pre-"graded" images pleasing. Not sure what to think about that. Whatever helps? My goal is to be able to find the right look all by myself. I think color is the most demanding craft, and I'd like to know what it's all about (see controversial discussion >here).

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Guest 89e2bdf5797fbbdc17c2cc6da1413fa0

Therefore I first go to the saturation tab and pull all color from the image before switching to the exposure tab. 

 

...

 

My goal is to be able to find the right look all by myself.

Interesting. I really need to learn more about grading.

 

...

 

Ditto - that is my goal too.

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This is a very interesting topic and I agree that it would be nice to see more discussions about this kind of stuff rather than (or in addition to!) the tech side of things on here. 

 

I recently made the switch from a Canon 600D to a Panasonic GH3. I really like the results so far but I haven't had any chance to play around with different camera settings, grading etc. 

 

I often shoot out in the nature as I'm focussing on Mountainbiking right now. So I often shoot in dark forests yet the sky is very bright, so dynamic range is a big issue and the sky is almost always blown out if I want to keep details on the ground/trail. 

 

So here's my workflow (FCPX) so far... any tips to improve the workflow would be greatly appreciated!

 

- I try to avoid blown out skies and too contrasty scenes altogether and I tend to expose to the right

- I also use a very flat picture style, although I don't dial sharpness down quite as much as I used to

- after importing the files, I make minor exposure adjustments to sort of balance the footage

- then I add the Teal and Orange-filter that is integrated in FCPX 

- the filter is usually too strong for my taste, so I dial down the intensity a bit

- then I take another look at exposure, saturation and colour and make some more minor adjustments until I get a pleasing result

- I usually tend to bring up the exposure in the highlights a bit (this boosts the brightness of the entire image) and also boost the saturation in the midtones a bit (so that the rider pops out a bit more)

- last step is to add a little bit of sharpness (usually around +3 in FCPX)

 

Recently I also tried to emulate the Teal and Orange-filter by pushing the shadows into cyan and highlights into yellow/orange. This resulted in a slightly nicer image because this doesn't crush the midtones as much as the built-in filter. 

 

Now my problem is that when adding the filter, the blacks and dark colours get crushed so there's not a lot of detail left in these areas (which in my case tend to be the trail and the trees). When I bring up the dark areas by adjusting the exposure, there's a ton of noise in these areas. 

 

Also, I'm not too happy with the sharpening tool of FCPX. Would it be better to dial up the sharpness in camera a tiny bit (from -5 to -2 for example) as long as the footage isn't moiré-plagued? 

 

I don't have experience with LUTs at all, never used them before. How does the workflow change when using LUTs? As far as I understand, the camera needs to have a specific profile to properly work with LUTs (cinegamma for example, which is only found in more expensive cameras) but having a flat picture profile in a cheaper camera (GH3, T3i etc) will work the same? Do I apply the LUT after doing the colour adjustments INSTEAD of using a colour correction filter such as Teal and Orange? Or do I apply the LUT IN ADDITION to the colour correction filter? 

 

Looking forward to hearing your feedback... thanks a ton in advance!

-Moritz

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Also, I'm not too happy with the sharpening tool of FCPX. Would it be better to dial up the sharpness in camera a tiny bit (from -5 to -2 for example) as long as the footage isn't moiré-plagued? 

 

Depends on the camera. Make your own tests. There is a free Motion template (to be used as an effect in FCP X) that can be used subtly (not like in this demo), and it seems to sometimes do better than just "sharpen":

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The best sharpening tool is the one in Neat Video & it also de-noises the best as well.

In Motion there is an Un-Sharpen tool (& loads of other options/filters that aren't in FCPX), which you can make into a plugin or go to Alex4D's site & use his free one.

Also, remember that applying contrast to a scene will also sharpen up your footage, especially Local Contrast (but i don't think FCPX has that tool, maybe its in Motion).

 

There's lots of debate about how much sharpness to use in-camera & i found it all depended on the type of shot:

Close-ups - no sharpening

Medium Shots - +1/2 from off

Wide Shots - +2/3 from off

(This was Canon & not GH)

Testing is the sure fire way to see what you like or what works best.

 

There was a video where someone showed the different options & i think they concluded that completely off was not the way to go (holding breath & waiting for the expert detractors to jump down my throat).

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Guest 89e2bdf5797fbbdc17c2cc6da1413fa0

There's lots of debate about how much sharpness to use in-camera & i found it all depended on the type of shot:

Close-ups - no sharpening

Medium Shots - +1/2 from off

Wide Shots - +2/3 from off

(This was Canon & not GH)

Testing is the sure fire way to see what you like or what works best.

 

There was a video where someone showed the different options & i think they concluded that completely off was not the way to go (holding breath & waiting for the expert detractors to jump down my throat).

In my experience this entirely depends on what camera you're using. For my 600D it was best to set sharpening to zero and apply it in post (looked soft whatever I did!). For my G6 I turn sharpening down a bit and don't usually apply any in post. For my D5300 I leave it at default (+3) and add a little in post too.

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Guest 89e2bdf5797fbbdc17c2cc6da1413fa0

One other thing I wish was a bit different about this forum is I wish people would post examples from their own work/tests more. I think this would be particularly helpful/useful on this thread.

 

I also think it might lower the likelihood of threads descending into polarised battles over who is right and wrong about this or that so much. It takes a bit of humility to open your work up to criticism/analysis and hopefully people would be more constructive in their criticism, and acknowledge that taste comes into the equation a bit more often.

 

Just a thought.

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Oh wow! Great info, and I'm glad I persisted with this. I didn't know you could create your own plugins with Motion 5. Just watched this basic tutorial and it's super easy to do as well: http://library.creativecow.net/articles/neil_andy/Motion-Quick-Tip-5-FCPX/video-tutorial

 

Just installed the SC Sharpen, plugin and it's pretty cool too, though a bit aggressive at the default settings. 

 

From looking at how Matt's stuff seems to be evolving into a specific look/style for him, I'm guessing it's mostly just get in there and find out what works for you. Cool to see what everyone's approach is, it's given me some excellent ideas. 

 

Now, I just need a faster external drive because I'm now choking FCPX10 I think. Can't decide if I should pay the extra $ for a thunderbolt SSD drive to plugin to my thunderbolt display back, or get a fast USB3 to plug into my MBP (since the builtin thunderbolt display only supports USB2, FW800, and Thunderbolt of course). 

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Regarding looks.... Matt's signature quote from David Lynch reminds me of an interview I read of his, or maybe heard... can't remember. The quote may actually be from the interview. But, the gist of it was an answer to a question about high definition. David Lynch was saying that he didn't much care for it at the time and felt it was waaaay too much detail. So much detail that the magic and mystery of the dreamlike illusion were being destroyed. And, that he preferred the softer constrasty look of old 16mm films where the viewer had to fill in what was in the shadows with their own imagination. 

 

Or something like that. I think there's definitely something to that.

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True, be inspired by great works of art in painting. How many of them rely on high resolution? 

 

In cinema, high resolution (comparable to 4k) existed since at least six decades. The true masterpieces can be counted with the hands (you don't need fingers). 

 

BTW: I found a good use for LUT utility for FCP X with my pocket. I can apply a Rec709 LUT (it's in the standard version) with the adjustment layer. It's a Motion title, that can be connected, easily prolonged or trimmed and filled with all filters you want to apply to a whole sequence or single clips that you can toggle on or off in their entirety by choosing the layer and hitting "v". Also available from Alex4D. I recommend that you try this template when you experiment with Osiris. It's extremely useful (of course the name derives from Adobe).

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