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A7s Grading


Tim Naylor

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Hello all,

 

I've been a DP most of my career, a situation where I shoot footage and then the manipulation of the footage is literally out of my hands. With movies, I sit in on the grades and supervise, but I don't actually work the tools. On commercials, the footage is completely out my control after wrap. Except with cutting and grading finished  footage for my reels, my experience with hands on grading is moderate. Now, however, I'm originating many of my own personal projects: shooting, cutting and grading them.

 

Much of this burst in personal creativity has been inspired by the A7s. Its size, sensitivity, etc has truly liberated much of my shooting. However, while I've for the most part have been able to get the tones I like, the A7s has been exceedingly difficult. I find getting a rich and accurate flesh tone difficult.  I know it can be done because I've seen a few excellent examples. Most examples I've seen have been disappointing. 

 

So what I'm asking is for anyone who's unlocked the secret sauce to share their LUTs, CC settings and shooting protocol. 

 

Here's some footage I recently shot for B roll for project I'm shooting. S log 2. Exposures have plenty to play with. I boosted the saturation in camera by 10-13. I did a pass in FCPX CC. I can't get the grade right.

 

 

And this is footage from a screen test for one of our talent. I was able to get considerably better colors on my 5d3 in the flesh tones. Also originated on Slog2, A7s, Sat +13.

 

 

 

I'm considering purchasing Osiris. Any thoughts or alternatives I should consider.

 

Please lets keep this on topic and constructive.

 

Thanks,

 

Tim

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Hey guys, I threw a sample video together for you...   pass: jockjams   It's a compilation of some paid work I've done with the A7s.     I'm really against shooting s-log2 with this camera.

Hello all,   I've been a DP most of my career, a situation where I shoot footage and then the manipulation of the footage is literally out of my hands. With movies, I sit in on the grades and superv

"Get ready for this" - I remember liking that song as a little boy... Didn't expect to hear that song today :)     I like a lot of what I've seen from the A7S. My main nitpick with that camera is t

 

I'm considering purchasing Osiris. Any thoughts or alternatives I should consider.

 

 

Oziris LUTs from Visioncolor are very stylized(for example "teal and orange" look) so I wouldn't recommend them for natural looking skintones and to me personally most of them look like a SF horror or Mad Max apocalyptic kind of grades. They can look interesting sometimes when you want a very stylized look.

 

Visioncolor also has Impulz LUTs that represent older film stocks similar to FilmConvert but tend to introduce some weird digital banding in highlights rolloff areas even if original footage doesn't have any, so I think FilmConvert is a better option and they just recently included profiles for A7s.

 

I'm no expert so just a personal opinion.

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I know I will be lambasted here, but I will never understand the hype with this camera. I also will look like a fan boy but what is the fuss about a camera when it cannot to the basic right. If just shooting a human being you need to be some guru in colour correction, whoa. I have been a graphic designer then became a photographer for nearly a decade now. I photography mostly human for commercial, fashion and weddings and I think I am quite good at colour correcting in lightroom, photoshop and now Davinci resolve. But whoa, I am completely lost in the level of setting etc etc that people are going at colour grading the A7s. It is like rocket science with 3d colour luts etc. With my Nikon's it just add or remove some saturation, do a little Scurve and voila, beautiful skin tone. Then if you want to have all types of looks like cross procesing etc. At least the base is here and you can build from it.

 

I think that the Nikons are mature 1080p camera now. My D7100 is already quite good, but I think I will ubgrade to the D750 early next year, for its added low light and 60 fps at 1080p. Very good DR, 1080p resolution, great low light to at least 6400 iso and no one is complaining about horrible Jello (Look at the train in your video, realy distracting). Another mention would be the Black magic 2.5k cinema camera. Great resolution, DR and Codec. I had one concern it was the moire/aliasing, but they just launched a filter that removes it and with a speed booster you are getting Cinema 35mm and another stop for high ISO.

 

Just as an extreme example, the other day I fell on this guy video filming with............. a D600. Must be on one of the worst (because of aliasing and moire) older Nikon model. Look at the skin tone etc. I react much more emotionally to that, than any of those super spec A7s geeky video footage.

 

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I know I will be lambasted here, but I will never understand the hype with this camera. I also will look like a fan boy but what is the fuss about a camera when it cannot to the basic right. If just shooting a human being you need to be some guru in colour correction, whoa. I have been a graphic designer then became a photographer for nearly a decade now. I photography mostly human for commercial, fashion and weddings and I think I am quite good at colour correcting in lightroom, photoshop and now Davinci resolve. But whoa, I am completely lost in the level of setting etc etc that people are going at colour grading the A7s. It is like rocket science with 3d colour luts etc. With my Nikon's it just add or remove some saturation, do a little Scurve and voila, beautiful skin tone. Then if you want to have all types of looks like cross procesing etc. At least the base is here and you can build from it.

 

You can do that with the A7s too - it's just that most people are shooting in Slog2 to get the highest dynamic range out of the camera. If you shoot Slog2, then you will need to be able to colour grade it. You can spend your entire time owning an A7s and never shoot Slog2 and not have to colour grade to that extent if you don't want to.

 

It's the same as Sony's pro line of cameras that have Slog, as well as just about every other cinema Camera (Canon has Clog, Alexa Log-C; all slightly different log curves to preserve dynamic range).

 

Shooting in Slog means you're suddenly in the big boys arena - the washed out, grey, Slog footage that you shoot and then grade yourself is in the same log colour space that professional Colourists for commercials and movies around the world are working with.

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I have downloaded Canon slog and Arri Log and could get very good image just by applying an S -curve. I am used to high dynamic range with my D800, just apply the curve you want to get the contrast level you want, but the colour response more or less the same depending on the colour preset of the camera. I would say the closest two I have seen is Nikon and Alexa.

 

But if we get back to your point the Slog is more or less unusable to 9 out of 10 people, or even more seeing the number of thread popping out on all forums. So what the fuss being made, as one of the supposivelly image quality of the camera cannot be used by the vast majority.

 

This reminds me the story of Arri and Red. While the geeks shooters where talking up Red cameras because of 4k, high speed etc etc, compared to the 2k supposedly lower quality and overprice Alexa.  In the end Alexa ruled the Cinema and commercial market and you them talking about the advance in the last Dragon colour science because it comes closer to the Alexa. While they where dismissing the Alexa colour science before as nothing that superior.

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Tim, the only person I've seen get half-decent colours from the A7S is Brandon Li. He recommends not using S-Log unless you really need the dynamic range. 

 

This is his most recent video, but if you check his recent Vimeo uploads he has a few more decent A7S shoots: 

 

 

Although this video is a lot better than most stuff I've seen, personally it still doesn't do a lot for me. I'm from a painting background so I think my taste may be more colour-orientated than the average filmmaker, but personally I won't ever be going anywhere near the A7S because of this colour issue. Such a shame.

 

I've seen Brandon get really beautiful colours with other cameras (I bought the Nikon D5300 largely because of the colours I'd seen him get out of it) so if he can't do it I'm not very hopeful others will. Sorry but I believe it's a lost cause. I'm saving for a C100 instead. If you need a discreet camera for street stuff like your video above, personally I'd prefer a GH4 + speed booster. If it had to be full frame or low-noise, perhaps a Nikon 810 or 750. Sorry, not very constructive really!

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My suggestions is to throw it into Resolve Lite. I, personally, hate the FCPX Colour Correction tools and have found I struggle to get even similar grades in any decent amount of time, compared to when I do it in Resolve (which is part of the reason I barely use FCPX).

 

I'm waiting on delivery of an A7s, so will give it a go and post some tests/results when I get it, but I've shot extensively on the F5 in Slog3, as well as the F3 in Slog2, and I've never had any major trouble getting the colours I want out of it. The images have a particular Sony look to them, which I imagine the A7s will have as well, but I don't find it inherently bad, just a bit different to when I shoot Alexa or RED.

 

I'm sure a professional colourist could grade up the F5 footage (and probably A7s) to match an Alexa pretty closely - say if you were intercutting.

 

As a DP, I assume you would have at least a rudimentary understanding of colour, so Resolve will probably be a bit more intuitive for you.

 

I have downloaded Canon slog and Arri Log and could get very good image just by applying an S -curve. I am used to high dynamic range with my D800, just apply the curve you want to get the contrast level you want, but the colour response more or less the same depending on the colour preset of the camera. I would say the closest two I have seen is Nikon and Alexa.

 

But if we get back to your point the Slog is more or less unusable to 9 out of 10 people, or even more seeing the number of thread popping out on all forums. So what the fuss being made, as one of the supposivelly image quality of the camera cannot be used by the vast majority.

You're right - Slog is pointless for a large number of people, as is 4k! That doesn't mean you can't still get nice images out of a particular camera.

 

I guess it's all relative. I personally don't like the colour in the video you posted (and certainly wouldn't say it's the closest, colour-wise, to an Alexa), not to mention compression artifacts and intense lack of dynamic range.

 

I think the fuss seems to be more about the low-light performance and the 4k ability - the low light certainly deserves fuss, and I think it's great that they've also included S-log. If you don't understand S-log, then don't use it, but you can hardly discount 'fuss' about a camera based on a feature you don't really understand.

 

Especially if you haven't tried it yourself.

 

I'm sure if Arri brought out a $2500 SLR with Log-C, there would be a plethora of posts on forums like this from people wondering how the hell to get decent looking images from it. And there would be a hell of a lot of fuss about it too.

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I didn't post this thread to get into a pissing match about this camera or that or what I should buy or not. I've been in this business for a long time. I'm a big boy and have owned a myriad of cameras from HVX's to Epics. I carefully weigh the pros/cons of a purchase. I have the A7s now. It does things that no other camera can do (which is why I own it) but has some shortcomings (which is why I'm posting).

 

It's like when Kodak came out with first 500T stocks (yeah, that's how old I am). We were all ecstatic about it, used it but knew from the get go it would never match the 100 EXR stocks in terms of color and grain. But it could still allow us to do things we wouldn't dream compared to the 100EXR. We found a myriad of ingenious ways to get more out of it. As DP's we shared that info openly. I was hoping for the same here.

 

So please, if you want to start a thread on why it's inane to own an A7s, please do. I was just hoping on this particular thread we could keep it to specific ideas, settings, protocols to get the most from a great but flawed camera.

 

 

Thanks.

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Tim, the only person I've seen get half-decent colours from the A7S is Brandon Li. He recommends not using S-Log unless you really need the dynamic range. 

 

I've seen Brandon get really beautiful colours with other cameras (I bought the Nikon D5300 largely because of the colours I'd seen him get out of it) so if he can't do it I'm not very hopeful others will. Sorry but I believe it's a lost cause. I'm saving for a C100 instead. If you need a discreet camera for street stuff like your video above, personally I'd prefer a GH4 + speed booster. If it had to be full frame or low-noise, perhaps a Nikon 810 or 750. Sorry, not very constructive really!

Thanks for the post. I actually quite like the Brandon Li footage. This is definitely acceptable for what I expect from the camera. I bought this primarily for its low light abilities. On this front it has saved my butt a few times. Last job I did we did an interview in a heavily tinted Camaro, lit by just the dashboard, with virtually no noise.I know there are cameras with a better color profile, but for now, I'm trying to squeeze what I can from the A7s.

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Looking at the Brandon Li footage, it actually looks super close to what you get out of an F3 shooting Slog2 to an external recorder in 4:2:2.

 

Tim, those clips you posted look like they've had some sort of grade applied to them. Is that correct? What are you looking to get out of the grade?

 

I should be getting my A7s in the next few days so can advise further, but I've never turned up saturation on the log recording in-camera. Might be worth shooting a couple tests without the saturation turned up and see if it's easier for you to get closer to what you want.

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Looking at the Brandon Li footage, it actually looks super close to what you get out of an F3 shooting Slog2 to an external recorder in 4:2:2.

 

Tim, have those clips you posted look like they've had some sort of grade applied to them. Is that correct? What are you looking to get out of the grade?

 

I should be getting my A7s in the next few days so can advise further, but I've never turned up saturation on the log recording in-camera. Might be worth shooting a couple tests without the saturation turned up and see if it's easier for you to get closer to what you want.

There is a grade on it. The problem I'm having is getting what I'd call an "honest" flesh tone from black skin. It's close to as I see it but still has a whiff of green hue. Having difficulties riding btw green and magenta. I'll definitely play with resolve lite in the coming days. Overall, I'm trying to get richer, deeper colors. 

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I think you'll be a lot happier in Resolve. It's really powerful - you'll be able to isolate the skin tones and take that green out.

 

I've been able to get some really nice colours out of Slog2 and Slog3 in the past, though I haven't tried on the A7s yet so there's probably no point posting any examples up of footage from F3s and F5s.

 

I'll post some stuff up when my A7s arrives.

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My suggestions is to throw it into Resolve Lite. I, personally, hate the FCPX Colour Correction tools and have found I struggle to get even similar grades in any decent amount of time, compared to when I do it in Resolve (which is part of the reason I barely use FCPX).

 

I'm waiting on delivery of an A7s, so will give it a go and post some tests/results when I get it, but I've shot extensively on the F5 in Slog3, as well as the F3 in Slog2, and I've never had any major trouble getting the colours I want out of it. The images have a particular Sony look to them, which I imagine the A7s will have as well, but I don't find it inherently bad, just a bit different to when I shoot Alexa or RED.

 

I'm sure a professional colourist could grade up the F5 footage (and probably A7s) to match an Alexa pretty closely - say if you were intercutting.

 

As a DP, I assume you would have at least a rudimentary understanding of colour, so Resolve will probably be a bit more intuitive for you.

 

You're right - Slog is pointless for a large number of people, as is 4k! That doesn't mean you can't still get nice images out of a particular camera.

 

I guess it's all relative. I personally don't like the colour in the video you posted (and certainly wouldn't say it's the closest, colour-wise, to an Alexa), not to mention compression artifacts and intense lack of dynamic range.

 

I think the fuss seems to be more about the low-light performance and the 4k ability - the low light certainly deserves fuss, and I think it's great that they've also included S-log. If you don't understand S-log, then don't use it, but you can hardly discount 'fuss' about a camera based on a feature you don't really understand.

 

Especially if you haven't tried it yourself.

 

I'm sure if Arri brought out a $2500 SLR with Log-C, there would be a plethora of posts on forums like this from people wondering how the hell to get decent looking images from it. And there would be a hell of a lot of fuss about it too.

 

 

He has graded the video to the Orange and teal look, It is a question of tast if people like it or not. But even with the grade it looks a lot better than most Sony A7s video that I have seen (he has his website here http://gbvideo.com/wedding-videos where you can see a lot more example) and it is a wedding so guerrilla shooting in sometime harsh lighting. In that video looking at the vegetation I would say south of the USA and not shooting at ideal hours (golden hour) when the contrast is low, I am sure that any camera would blow, If applying a normal S-curve and to expose nicely for the face of the couple.  If not you would have to use power windows in davinci reslove to isolate the blown area and us tracking to lower the highlight so that you don't affect the skin of the principal subject, which mean the couple. I don't know many production who would go that far for some blown highlight behind them.

 

To continue on dynamic range, I leave and dye by it because I don't live in a Tropical island with mostly dark skin tone people. If you have someday the opportunity to go shoot in the Caribbean etc you will know what contrasty light mean. I also always joke anout the golden hour because it is more like the golden 20 minutes in my country because you come from full day to knight in the space of 20 minutes as the closest you come to the equator higher is the sun and the curve of entry and exit is much more vertical toward the horizon. When you shoot in those condition dynamic range is more important than resolution and ISO.

 

Part of my job is to do weddings of couple mainly from Europe on the beach and I have to shoot human beings in very harsh light. This is a website a travel agency  who sell my services packaged with their flight and hotel accommodation. This is just a very very small sample of my work and some errors in there (One photo with couple with sunset and a big fck ugly boat behind and they are just shinning and ugly red skin........ some over smoothing of the skin done buy the agency  ) http://www.danielvilliers.com . But if you take the first one with the bright turquoise sea, you can just barely open your eyes in these condition and I have 3 Flash firing at them as fill light. During those time you can barely shoot continuously more than 1) minute or risk the bride or more rarely the groom to fell unconscious.  Most of the time I have to correct the skin for shininess and redness and to people disbelief, most of the time it is the groom because... they don't wear makeup.

 

So next time you lecture someone about dynamic range or any other subject, perhaps it would be good to know his background a bit. If you want I can send you links to load of my complete wedding gallery because I pride myself to a certain level of consistency in my work and in those harsh condition like the first photo. Just as a note most of those photos are done on jpeg because I have very little time of 3 to 5 days before departure of the client. My D800 RAW (best camera in DR) are only used when I have to rescue a shot.

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Now before I let you guys discuss about the A7s color, I will give you my assessment that some of you might find useful. Because I did asses the camera as a contender as everyone was talking about that. This was before I find the colour skin tone issues, rolling shutter issues and blue clipping. My assesment is that the the colour are bias toward green and pink which make it look a lot as when you are shooting low cri fluorescent or led light. It is as if there are some colour spectrum lacking. The best resource I saw about analyzing the different colour profile and S-log is this, I think it is a good starting point

 

 

The second thing I guess is that a 8 bit file is not sufficient to store enough step for that ultra low contrast 13 or more DR. So some of the rounding off is causing part of colour to merge. As a better explanation, I mean the contrary of colour separation that you normally want, so that if you want to do colour correction etc choosing a colour for qualifiers in Davinci it wont merge with nearby colours.

 

The last thing as this example

is that shooting at 3200 you will need very very good ND. Most of the time ND will bring a colour cast. In fact in general ND tend to bring some additional green hue and IR polluting a pinkish hue. So they will tend to reinforce the green and pink tint and that is a big task to get it out of a super flat 8 bit codec.
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I don't know about Resolve, but in SpeedGrade I put a Secondary layer on and colourpick skin in the image and shift it to whichever direction of colour you want. Another way is to shoot the same scene with a Canon and the Sony A7s and then use the colour match tool. You will then be able to create a LUT from the changes which will be usable for all sorts of other shots.

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hey tim, i work on the other side, i'm a flame / nuke person, but i downloaded some of the A7s footage just to check out: here's an example of the tests i've done. you're not going to find one LUT that works for every EV and WB obviously, but here are 3 gamma curves i did (just illustrated) using three of the more popular S-Log2 footage samples (this brings into linear, you would need to then apply a .45 gamma curve to make it sRGB, which was done after the curves shown below). i'm using 3 different color space transforms (3x3 matrices) in these examples, also posted below. (top gamma curve was a trace of the 3D LUT posted to the Sony forums which is too light for > 0 EV). 

 

+2 to +3 EV seems to help reduce the visibility of the chroma subsampling.

 

a7s_scenarios.jpg

 

the top examples, left to right, use the SGamut to sRGB color matrix transform (designed for the F55?) which are part of OpenColorIO (I found the blues can be too saturated):

 

  1.87785      -0.79412       -0.08373

 -0.17681       1.35098       -0.17417

 -0.02621      -0.14844        1.17465

 

middle examples, a custom 3x3 to deal with the over-saturated blues of the previous transform, it sums to 1 across each row and works better with > +1 EV:

 

 1.5778    -0.3941    -0.1837

-0.1768     1.2809    -0.1041

 0.0294     0.2484     0.7222

 

bottom examples (from a Sony pdf to convert from F35 SGamut to HDW-F900-like conventional colors):

 

 1.30624    -0.233075    -0.073165

-0.126851   1.17838      -0.051526

 0.00012    -0.085649     1.08553

 

and here's a link to the CineAlta forum SGamut to XYZ 3x3 color matrix

 

good luck!

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