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Disadvantages of Ultra low contrast and saturation looks


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#1 Deji Joseph

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:11 AM

When i first started using DSLRs 2 years ago, everyone advised me to use the lowest contrast and saturation setting possible with the picture styles. However over the years I have discovered I get better results leaving the settings on 0 for both. This gives less color banding in my honest opinion when grading. My colleagues say experienced Maestros like shane hulbert would disagree so i came to the conclusion I am missing something. Could anyone please elaborate on the pros and cons on Ultra low contrast and saturation looks in raw footage. Note I am not saying there is anything wrong with Log like footage, but isnt there an issue with banding at low bit rates especially on DSLRs and 50mb/s codecs?

Regards

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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:23 AM

You're not missing anything. Very low-con looks work well for situations where you have a low-compression image to grade; in that case, it gives you more options. If you're using a low-bit-depth, high-compression system like a DSLR, it just gives you more banding and compression artifacts. Pull all the contrast out of it when you shoot, and you'll just have to put it back in later - unfortunately, you're required to actually try and get what you want in camera with these systems!


This is such a common piece of misinformation that I produced a piece of video about it:

http://www.video.bhp...3e6a235cd&rf=bm

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#3 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:39 AM

I'll come to this after I grade something I did with the cinestyle, but in my current opinion I'd rather have the option to add contrast, than to be stuck with an image that I can't take away anything. Depending on what you're shooting, making the contrast decisions on the fly can be quite limiting as you can't be entirely sure of what you're going to get w/ screens etc. If there is added noise by increasing contrast, then so be it, I'd say it's just one of the limitations of using a cheaper alternative.

Also I can't really comment on something like the C300 without using it yet, but I'm sure it'll grade better than the overly compressed h.264 with its log mode.
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#4 Deji Joseph

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 09:44 AM

I'll come to this after I grade something I did with the cinestyle, but in my current opinion I'd rather have the option to add contrast, than to be stuck with an image that I can't take away anything. Depending on what you're shooting, making the contrast decisions on the fly can be quite limiting as you can't be entirely sure of what you're going to get w/ screens etc. If there is added noise by increasing contrast, then so be it, I'd say it's just one of the limitations of using a cheaper alternative.

Also I can't really comment on something like the C300 without using it yet, but I'm sure it'll grade better than the overly compressed h.264 with its log mode.


Someone put some raw C300 MXF on vimeo, search "Parallel C300". I think it "C300" handles grading better but the Log footage is also more contrasty than most DSLR footage.
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#5 Ray Lavers

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 12:14 AM

thanks Phil that video confirmed my suspicions of using cinestyle with a lut. I've been using Red Giant's denoiser to compensate for the added noise. In the end there is a bit of sharpness loss.
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#6 M Joel W

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 02:00 PM

Tried ultra flat. Didn't like it. Have shot neutral since. The tonality is much better and there's less posterization after grading. Just meter and light correctly in the first place.

Edited by M Joel Wauhkonen, 25 January 2012 - 02:00 PM.

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#7 Josh Bass

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 08:48 AM

Heres what ive been using...


Neutral pp with
Contrast all the way down
Sharpness all the way down
Color sat -2
Anything else untouched

Approve?
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 09:12 AM

Yup. I sometimes don't run the sharpness absolutely all the way down as it is at least done pre-compression - although you can find yourself just sharpening moire.

Tried ultra flat. Didn't like it. Have shot neutral since. The tonality is much better and there's less posterization after grading. Just meter and light correctly in the first place.




Exactly that.
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#9 Josh Bass

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 10:33 PM

Good to know about the sharpness for the future. I've been DPing a friend's short film off and on for about year (WHAT????--yes you read correctly) and we've always had sharpness down so no changing now. Looks good to me with the 24-105 Canon L.
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#10 Mei Lewis

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 05:21 AM

This is something I've thought intuitively. If you have a flat style with pixels in the range say 10 to 200 RGB and have to pull them back out to 0 to 255 then there's going to be banding.


Phil, I've watched the video a couple of times. Are there specific settings and a style you recommend?
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#11 Paul Bartok

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:00 AM

Technicolor's Joshua Pines the person behind the creation of Cinestyle has clearly mentioned that if your going to shoot on it, you must know that it is for the intention of grading in post later. IMHP It helps compared to the over saturated standard profile but it really doesn't hold up as well as say 12bit footage once you start grading, the 5/7D were clearly not meant to be graded beyond minor details damn h.264.
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:39 AM

Are there specific settings and a style you recommend?




Whatever gets you closest to what you're eventually aiming for. I habitually shoot DSLRs with minimised contrast, although if you have time to do a proper checkout you can often experimentally define the degree of contrast reduction beyond which there is no more highlight detail to recover. This varies from camera to camera, as I get the impression you're starting to detect the normal manufacturing variances in the sensors, but really it's not the end of the world. Overdoing contrast reduction will start to grey up the blacks and mute the whites, but only to a very trivial degree as there's only five clicks of contrast adjust range anyway. Reducing sharpness is a a good idea in general.


Frankly you could just shoot in the "neutral" or "faithful" and you'd be fine most of the time.



Technicolor's Joshua Pines the person behind the creation of Cinestyle has clearly mentioned that if your going to shoot on it, you must know that it is for the intention of grading in post later.




Well, that's blazingly obvious. The thing about the Technicolor style is that it was intended, according to them at NAB last year, to allow people to shoot stuff in a way that was consistent with other, higher end cameras, to solve the problems Tech themselves were having integrating DSLR material into more conventional log video workflows. And it's important to note: that's all it was designed to do. There is nothing specifically "right" about Cinestyle. It's just a standard approach that Technicolor like to use. There is no great secret to it. They could have picked other standards. And if you're not trying to integrate DSLR material into a log workflow, well, you probably aren't in the situation where it was intended to be applied.


People feel like they have to use it because Technicolor sponsor it, not because it does anything particularly spectacular to the picture. The DSLR world is almost as riven with this sort of branded fashion consciousness as the Red world, and it's crazy. People who shoot Cinestyle then just drag all the contrast back into it in FCP or Premiere are misunderstanding the intent.


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#13 Mei Lewis

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 05:49 PM

I've been using cinestyle partly because I thought it was the only one (apart from the defaults) with official Canon input and because Technicolor are so respected I assumed they know what they're doing.

Tonight I've done a few test shots in my bedroom, head and shoulders of my brother and my cat against a black sheet, very simple stuff. Shot some cinestyle, some neutral with the setting recommended above, and some the standard profile and I'm finding it very hard to make the cinestyle look as good when graded as the default picture style does out of the camera.
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#14 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 06:07 PM

I assumed they know what they're doing.




They do, you just have to bear in mind what they were trying to do. Tech have never been bashful about what they're trying to do, and have never promoted it as a general purpose style.


In a wider sense, this is just an appeal to authority.
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#15 Mei Lewis

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:59 AM

Phil, the link to your video no longer works. Has it been taken offline?
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 12:32 PM

Clearly they have realised I am crap. I probably have a copy of it somewhere.
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#17 Mei Lewis

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 03:26 AM

That would be good...
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#18 Mei Lewis

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:26 AM

There's some analysis of Cinestyle at fxphd here
http://www.fxphd.com...r-alexa-signal/

It's an interesting read but some of it seems unjustified - do cameras actually have unused blocked off pixels specifically just for noise subtraction?
Does software make use of this, or know about subtracting off the average?

In the few test I've done make me think that the neutral picture style suggested on this thread is the way to go. I've discovered a bunch of people are referring to it as 'prolost flat'
http://prolost.com/flat
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