Cinematography Case Study

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James McDonagh

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Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 6:30 pm

Hello everyone,

I know a lot of this can be explained by learning the principles of cinematography, coloring etc., but I would be interested in a trained eye's examination of the footage I captured recently with my URSA Mini Pro which is linked below.

Mainly, I'm just wondering regarding exposure levels: as you can tell by observing the footage quite a few of my shots are blown out and clipped. However, when I was looking at the monitor I really enjoyed what I was seeing and when I stepped down 2 stops on the ND filters I felt that the image lacked the same punch that the overblown images had. And having reviewed, edited and processed my footage I am actually very happy with the images that I captured which have portions of them blown out.

I understand that imperfect images can be a part of the creative process, but just to localize it to a particular shot(s), would I be correct in saying that the dynamic image that was achieved at 0:22 and 1:03 would not have been possible if I shot at a "correct" exposure i.e. where there was no blow out? or would it have been possible to pull up the highlights in post etc to get the same affect?

I feel like there are two ways you can shoot a film, especially in dynamic "doc" style environments as opposed to pre-planned fiction, 1. you can make sure everything is technically correct on the camera's display or 2. you can go by your eye and what feels right. Which way do you guys go? Assuming that you're not shooting RAW of course :P

Last edited by James McDonagh on Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 7:14 pm

Did you shoot RAW ? Or ProRes ?
How did you "process" these shots ? Did you apply a LUT or grade them ?
Was the viewfinder the BMD made one ?
Which camera are you using ?

JB
John Brawley
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 7:27 pm

John Brawley wrote:Did you shoot RAW ? Or ProRes ?
How did you "process" these shots ? Did you apply a LUT or grade them ?
Was the viewfinder the BMD made one ?
Which camera are you using ?

JB


ProRes
Basic color grading. No LUTs.
Excuse me, I should have said *monitor. I don't own a viewfinder.
URSA Mini Pro.
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Robert Niessner

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 8:28 pm

James, for your ProRes footage: What had you set your dynamic range setting in the RECORD menu?
"Film" or "Video"?

To me it looks like the latter. Don't use that one, you will throw away a lot of the dynamic range of your sensor.
Robert Niessner
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 9:12 pm

James McDonagh wrote:ProRes
Basic color grading. No LUTs.
Excuse me, I should have said *monitor. I don't own a viewfinder.
URSA Mini Pro.


Hi James.

Did you shoot FILM or VIDEO ?

Basic colour grading in what application ? Resolve ? FCP ? Premiere ?

JB
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 9:14 pm

John Brawley wrote:
James McDonagh wrote:ProRes
Basic color grading. No LUTs.
Excuse me, I should have said *monitor. I don't own a viewfinder.
URSA Mini Pro.


Hi James.

Did you shoot FILM or VIDEO ?

Basic colour grading in what application ? Resolve ? FCP ? Premiere ?

JB


I shoot on FILM.

Basic color grading with Premier Pro.
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 9:14 pm

Robert Niessner wrote:James, for your ProRes footage: What had you set your dynamic range setting in the RECORD menu?
"Film" or "Video"?

To me it looks like the latter. Don't use that one, you will throw away a lot of the dynamic range of your sensor.


Hi Robert,

I shot this on film. In my opinion the giveaway that this was shot on film mode rather than video is the shots that were captured at 0:43 and 1:12.
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 9:24 pm

James McDonagh wrote:
I shoot on FILM.

Basic color grading with Premier Pro.


When you were monitoring the shots that you liked on set, did you have your monitor set to FILM or VIDEO ?

Without seeing your ungraded shots, it looks a lot like you've overexposed the shots. The camera should be able to EASILY deal with the contrast in your shots, so therefore the error comes from having the wrong monitoring setup (watching in FILM only without previous experience on set is a guaranteed way to screw your exposure) and perhaps the ambient light screwing with your perceptions of how the image is exposing on the screen.

This is why absolute indicators of exposure like Zebra and False Colour are so useful because they can't be mi-interpreted by the viewing conditions or monitoring modes.

Are you familiar with these exposure tools ?

JB
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostMon Mar 05, 2018 10:19 pm

John Brawley wrote:
James McDonagh wrote:
I shoot on FILM.

Basic color grading with Premier Pro.


When you were monitoring the shots that you liked on set, did you have your monitor set to FILM or VIDEO ?

Without seeing your ungraded shots, it looks a lot like you've overexposed the shots. The camera should be able to EASILY deal with the contrast in your shots, so therefore the error comes from having the wrong monitoring setup (watching in FILM only without previous experience on set is a guaranteed way to screw your exposure) and perhaps the ambient light screwing with your perceptions of how the image is exposing on the screen.

This is why absolute indicators of exposure like Zebra and False Colour are so useful because they can't be mi-interpreted by the viewing conditions or monitoring modes.

Are you familiar with these exposure tools ?

JB


I was shooting in film, John. I was viewing the monitor through film mode.

I was well aware on the day of filming that my shots were overexposed. When looking through the monitor I preferred what I saw when I had the shots overexposed than properly exposed. I am not upset about the footage, I am happy about it.

My initial question was: can I achieve the same look that I got with some of my overexposed shots (see the extreme close ups with the horses) by grading properly exposed footage.
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Uli Plank

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostTue Mar 06, 2018 10:32 am

I think you can get close. What film does during overexposure:

– light is scattered around in the emulsion and affects nearby areas in a very delicate way
– strong colors get 'drained' from the environment (like a red poppy in a green field getting a colored halo)

So for starters, play with a luma mask and some blur. To refine it further you may need luma masks and a few operations on single color channels.
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Ric Murray

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostTue Mar 06, 2018 10:50 pm

Sorry man, that's all operator error. The histogram is an important tool when shooting under harsh, contrasty conditions. Looking at the flip out viewfinder image under those conditions, to judge exposure is going to screw you very time. That's why they make the viewfinder.
In this situation, I would shoot RAW, even if you need to go 4:1. ProRes "bakes in" the clipping, RAW will give you a much better chance of highlight recovery.
Also...do your color work in Resolve, yeah it's a lot more complicated than moving sliders around in Premeire, but it's made to interpret BM camera footage and offer the most possible range and adjustments without "breaking" the footage.
Creativity is the ability to accept ambiguity.
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostTue Mar 06, 2018 11:37 pm

Ric Murray wrote:Sorry man, that's all operator error. The histogram is an important tool when shooting under harsh, contrasty conditions. Looking at the flip out viewfinder image under those conditions, to judge exposure is going to screw you very time. That's why they make the viewfinder.
In this situation, I would shoot RAW, even if you need to go 4:1. ProRes "bakes in" the clipping, RAW will give you a much better chance of highlight recovery.
Also...do your color work in Resolve, yeah it's a lot more complicated than moving sliders around in Premeire, but it's made to interpret BM camera footage and offer the most possible range and adjustments without "breaking" the footage.


Hi Ric,

I am happy with the overexposed footage. My question was could I had have achieved that look that I produced in the final result with a correctly exposed shot.

For me DaVinci is a complete non-starter: how exactly is a colorist meant to see how their image looks if they can't bring the footage full screen without an external monitor. The restriction of the preivew window is an absolutely shameful plug from BM
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostTue Mar 06, 2018 11:51 pm

James McDonagh wrote:
My initial question was: can I achieve the same look that I got with some of my overexposed shots (see the extreme close ups with the horses) by grading properly exposed footage.


Yes.

With more control and precision.

JB
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 12:04 am

John Brawley wrote:
James McDonagh wrote:
My initial question was: can I achieve the same look that I got with some of my overexposed shots (see the extreme close ups with the horses) by grading properly exposed footage.


Yes.

With more control and precision.

JB


Excellent news!!
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 12:07 am

James McDonagh wrote:
John Brawley wrote:
James McDonagh wrote:
My initial question was: can I achieve the same look that I got with some of my overexposed shots (see the extreme close ups with the horses) by grading properly exposed footage.


Yes.

With more control and precision.

JB


Excellent news!!



You're going to have to come to terms with Resolve if you want to get the most from this camera.

It's fairly easy to grade to have this result. It's impossible to recover footage that's been shot this way in camera where it's baked in. You of course can make that choice, but some would say it's better to have the choice about how much you push that grade later rather than living with what you see on the day as you shoot it.

JB
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 12:21 am

So in your opinion you will get better color grading results in Resolve's tiny cut out monitor which occupies less than 15% of the screen than Premier Pro's full screen coloring.
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Jack Fairley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 12:31 am

Resolve is vastly superior to Lumetri for color work. That said, you need to work the way the software was designed, which means using a Decklink/UltraStudio device for video output, along with a calibrated display of high quality.
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 12:34 am

Jack Fairley wrote:Resolve is vastly superior to Lumetri for color work. That said, you need to work the way the software was designed, which means using a Decklink/UltraStudio device for video output, along with a calibrated display of high quality.


I'm on a budget. How should I best calibrate my laptop's display?
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 12:39 am

James McDonagh wrote:So in your opinion you will get better color grading results in Resolve's tiny cut out monitor which occupies less than 15% of the screen than Premier Pro's full screen coloring.


Hi James.

I can scale the main image monitor to be 50% of my laptop screen size, or full screen.

Resolve is the most widely used colour grading platform by most of the big and medium end of town.

No one is using Premiere Pro to grade their film. And if they are it's an aberration.

JB
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 12:42 am

John Brawley wrote:
James McDonagh wrote:So in your opinion you will get better color grading results in Resolve's tiny cut out monitor which occupies less than 15% of the screen than Premier Pro's full screen coloring.


Hi James.

I can scale the main image monitor to be 50% of my laptop screen size, or full screen.

Resolve is the most widely used colour grading platform by most of the big and medium end of town.

No one is using Premiere Pro to grade their film. And if they are it's an aberration.

JB


Hi John,

How do you manage that? I remember Googling my concern that it was not possible to scale the image to 50%/full and saw that people on this very board confirmed my fears.

May I ask what controls you use to get that size on screen as I would like to spend more time with DaVinci in the future and being able to view my image properly would be very benificial.
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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 1:20 am

James McDonagh wrote:How do you manage that? I remember Googling my concern that it was not possible to scale the image to 50%/full and saw that people on this very board confirmed my fears.


I'm not sure I understand how you think you can access the colouring tools if the image is taking up the full screen? If you go to the "Workspace" menu you'll see three different views under "Viewer Mode." One is the cinema viewer (totally full screen, just for watching), one is the "enhanced viewer" where in the Colour workflow space the preview takes up close to 40% of the top part of your screen, and the third is "Full Screen Viewer" which has a few controls available but I still have to read the manual to see what this one's about. It seems quite limited.
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 2:37 am

Brad Hurley wrote:
James McDonagh wrote:How do you manage that? I remember Googling my concern that it was not possible to scale the image to 50%/full and saw that people on this very board confirmed my fears.


I'm not sure I understand how you think you can access the colouring tools if the image is taking up the full screen? If you go to the "Workspace" menu you'll see three different views under "Viewer Mode." One is the cinema viewer (totally full screen, just for watching), one is the "enhanced viewer" where in the Colour workflow space the preview takes up close to 40% of the top part of your screen, and the third is "Full Screen Viewer" which has a few controls available but I still have to read the manual to see what this one's about. It seems quite limited.


In Premier Pro you have the option to pull out the screen to about 80/90% with the adjustable panels. In Resolve you do not.
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 1:34 pm

Here you go.

I'm not even a regular Resolve user.

You have to commit a little bit more.

JB
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John Brawley
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 5:26 pm

John Brawley wrote:Here you go.

I'm not even a regular Resolve user.

You have to commit a little bit more.

JB


Hi John,

Don't worry about it, I found the shortcut of how to get Resolve on fullscreen on another thread. You don't have to bother to tell me.

EDIT: you do understand though, don't you John, that neither of those screens are what I was talking about? But look, I feel we've wasted enough time on the subject at hand. Have a good day.
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John Brawley

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 5:53 pm

James, you asked about Resolve cause you could only get a small screen and no full screen.
I offered a 50% version and then I had to go and take screen shots to show you it could be done.

I'm kind of a working DP, I'm happy to help but be cognisant you're asking for help form people eho are giving their time freely.

Resolve is designed to be used with multiple screens. You can work on a single screen with the circumstances as suggested.

If you want toget the most from the camera then Resolve is the easiest, but not only way.

You can achieve your desired look in PP if you wish to not use Resolve.

But you're throwing away the best colour correction on the planet for the sake of being able to precisely resize your windows then your priorities are what matters to you.

JB
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James McDonagh

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 6:02 pm

John Brawley wrote:James, you asked about Resolve cause you could only get a small screen and no full screen.
I offered a 50% version and then I had to go and take screen shots to show you it could be done.

I'm kind of a working DP, I'm happy to help but be cognisant you're asking for help form people eho are giving their time freely.

Resolve is designed to be used with multiple screens. You can work on a single screen with the circumstances as suggested.

If you want toget the most from the camera then Resolve is the easiest, but not only way.

You can achieve your desired look in PP if you wish to not use Resolve.

But you're throwing away the best colour correction on the planet for the sake of being able to precisely resize your windows then your priorities are what matters to you.

JB


Excellent. Thanks.
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Ric Murray

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Re: Cinematography Case Study

PostWed Mar 07, 2018 10:27 pm

I am happy with the overexposed footage. My question was could I had have achieved that look that I produced in the final result with a correctly exposed shot.


The answer to that question is yes, you can create overexposure/clipping with correctly exposed footage if that's your desire, but you can't save clipped footage with any software. But is the clipped area in the over exposed footage really what you were after or just a by product of the attempt to get the lighter mid range look? If you want that "bright" look shoot the footage with correct exposure and then lift the mid range tones with the curves in Resolve or "exposure" in the Lumetri panel and then start cranking the "Highlights" back down with that slider so that all the levels are in the "legal" range. Trust me, if you take that overexposed footage and look at it in a 42" video screen, (NOT a computer monitor) those clipped highlights are going to look nasty.
Creativity is the ability to accept ambiguity.

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