Sunday, April 24, 2016

Matching colors across camera brands with Resolve




By Guest Blogger: PastramiSwissRye

No matter the size of your budget, there will come a time when you need to match different cameras. It could be a GoPro crash cam in a stunt scene, pickup shots on a DSLR after a rented RED has been returned, or just borrowing a B-cam from a friend to cover an interview. 
While you can always try to match your settings on location, no two camera manufacturers use the same color science.  As a result, your shots won't match exactly and the final intercut product may seem a little "off" to the viewer no matter what you do on set.


My initial reaction to mismatched shots across cameras was to carefully color-match each shot in post.  This cost me a lot of time and money - until a co-worker and I devised a quicker method.

The cameras we used were the Panasonic G7 and the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, which both record at 3840x2160p Ultra High Definition - but this technique should work for any camera brand and at any resolution.


Panasonic DMC-G7
Blackmagic Production Camera 4K
Over time, we found that under most conditions, we were making similar corrections to match the BMPC4K and Panasonic G7 on every shot.  Eventually, we asked ourselves, "What if we could quantify the differences between the cameras? What if we could create some sort of tool to apply precise, consistent corrections based on those differences?"


X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
Our first step was to order a color chart. We chose the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport for its durability, excellent reviews and competitive price. We set it up under the most color-accurate light source we could find:


Generic Main Sequence Star
Once that was done, we set the BMPC4K to its native ISO as it is more sensitive to noise than the Panasonic, and matched exposure by varying shutter speed since motion blur did not affect the test. We used the same lens at the same t-stop to take identical short clips of the color chart with each of our cameras, then we loaded the clips into the free and powerful Davinci Resolve color grading and editing suite from Blackmagic (if you want to export at 4K, you'll need the paid version - you can download it here).
Panasonic G7 test shot
Blackmagic Production Camera 4K test shot
From here, there are a couple of options. Davinci Resolve actually has a built-in correction tool that when directed toward the color chart, automatically performs a correction for you. You can find it by clicking “color match” in the bottom left panel of the Resolve “color room”.   In some cases, this may be good enough.

But we wanted a tool with more versatility and more precise control. It took us a few more days of work to create it, but it has been well worth it.
First, we chose to leave the BlackMagic footage untouched and instead matched the (objectively poorer) Panasonic footage to it.
Next, we used the curves tool and the waveform monitor to match the exposure of each of the grayscale frames on the color chart. This was made slightly easier by rotating the clip 90 degrees and masking around the grayscale frames so they showed up clearly on the scopes. The process was then as simple as creating a point on the curve for each frame and adjusting it up and down until the waveform from the G7 matched that of the BMPC4K.


 We then used the “hue vs hue” and “hue vs sat” controls and the vectorscope to match the hue and saturation of each color frame on the X-rite card. This process was made easy by using the eyedropper tool to create a point for each frame, then moving the points up and down to adjust the hue and saturation until the vectorscope from the Panasonic matched that of the Blackmagic.
Next, we used the “hue vs lum” tool to match the exposure on the color frames in much the same way as we did the color adjustments. Finally, we shot the color charts under a few other light sources and reviewed our corrections a few times to be sure they remained reasonably accurate. This final “dialing in process” can take as long as you like, depending on how precise you’d like your LUT to be and how comfortable you are with the DaVinci Resolve toolset.
When we were satisfied, we exported the corrections as a LUT via “File>Project Settings>Color Management>Generate LUT From Current Grade”.
 Original Panasonic G7 CineD shot
Original BMPC4K shot
LUT-matched shots ready to be graded
Now, assuming our cameras are reasonably well white-balanced and exposed, we can easily match a day’s worth of shots in minutes with only minor corrections needed before moving on to grading.
The time saved and the quality of the results has easily been worth the cost of the color chart and the time invested. I highly recommend that anyone who regularly needs to match cameras as part of their job - or who wants to realize a creative vision without spending hours matching cameras in post - give this workflow a try.

What do you think? Do you plan to use this technique to match colors between cameras? We would love to hear from you. Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Panasonic unveiling a new camera module for Varicam on February 10th?


Is this.....
...a new version of this?
Panasonic has announced the rollout of a new member of the Varicam family on February 10th at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles.

The tease is "Mobile cinema acquisition is about to change....forever. Join us for the unveiling of the newest addition to the Panasonic Varicam lineup of cinema cameras."

Well, from the outline of the box "concealed" by the tarp in the image, it's pretty clear this is a new camera module - but the question is - what's the sensor size and resolution? And, more importantly, what's the price point?

Hopefully, it's a lower-spec Super 35 camera module at a lower price point than the $29,000 AU-V35C1 Super 35 4K camera head.

Sadly, though, no matter how inexpensive the camera head is, with the current Varicam configuration you still need a $17,000 recording module to make it work.

What Panasonic really needs to do in order to "change mobile digital cinema acquisition...forever" is develop a Super 35 camera with a total price that is competitive with the sub $10,000 FS7/Raven/URSA Mini 4.6K class cameras that currently dominate the low end cinema camcorder market.

Even better would be a Super 35, interchangeable lens camera in the sub $6000 FS5/LS300/URSA Mini 4K class (the fixed lens, micro 4/3 DVX200 doesn't count).

That said, a less expensive front end for Varicam would be a good start - I just hope they don't try putting a micro 4/3 sensor or mount on it.

Looking forward to February 10th to see what Panasonic comes up with.

What do you think it is?  Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.

And if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.






Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12.2 Studio for Mac marked down 50% to $499.99

Blackmagic Resolve for Mac - now $499.99 - 


Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve, arguably the best combination color grading/editing software suite on the market, has been available in two versions for the past several years - Resolve Studio ($1000) and Resolve Lite (free).

For most users, the free version of DaVinci Resolve 12 does everything they need - but for pro users or serious amateurs who need support for multiple GPUs, 4K output, motion blur effects, temporal and spatial noise reduction, 3D stereoscopic tools, remote rendering, and/or collaboration tools allowing multiple users work on the same project at the same time - Resolve Studio is the way to go.

Sadly, until today, pro users either had to buy a Blackmagic Camera that retailed for over $1000 (and came bundled with a free copy of Resolve Studio) - or pay $1000 to get the full, professional version of Resolve.

Today, with a pre-Christmas press release, Blackmagic Design has changed all that - at least for Mac users.

Now, you can download DaVinci Resolve Studio Version 12.2 from the Mac App Store for $499.99!

From the press release:
"Now available on the Mac App Store for only USD$499, customers have more flexibility than ever before because the software downloaded from the App Store features built in security and does not require a hardware dongle to run. That means customers that purchase DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio from the Mac App Store can run it on multiple personal Macs, like their laptop and desktop computers, simply by using their Apple ID.

This Mac only version of DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio greatly simplifies the purchasing and installation of the software because customers only pay once and do not have to suffer from the problems and high costs of monthly licensing for other cloud based software. In addition, the DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio license will not expire so customers never have worry about unexpected software expiration in the middle of a project or when on location without a network.

Customers that need to switch between Mac and Windows, or that are using DaVinci Resolve in a facility that does not use Apple ID, can still purchase DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio with a hardware dongle from Blackmagic Design resellers."
This is clearly a shot aimed at Premiere Pro and Adobe's "Creative Cloud" subscription model, which is $49.99 per month for a bundle of Adobe products.

Now, instead of paying $600 a year for Creative Cloud, Mac users can pay for a one-time, $500 license and run a dongle-free version of Resolve Studio 12.2.

That is still $200 more than Final Cut Pro, but may be worth it for direct access to Resolve's industry leading coloring tools in an all-in-one editing suite.

Sadly, Windows users are still stuck with the dongle (and the $1000 price tag), but let's hope that changes soon.

At least Windows (and Linux) are getting a free upgrade from Resolve 12 to Resolve 12.2 with support for h.265.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.










Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, December 12, 2015

URSA Mini first aerial footage vs. Alexa Mini





So far, Alexa Mini has had the Super 35 4K/global shutter aerial market pretty much to itself. That is about to change.

Courtesy of Grit Visual in Salt Lake, here is the first aerial footage shot with the $2,995 URSA Mini 4K:


The gimbal for the ground shots was a $2,279 DJI Ronin - and the multicopter used for the aerials was an $11,995 Freefly Alta with a 4.8 kg/15 lb maximum payload.

Here's the behind-the-scenes - interestingly, they had to come up with a custom battery solution to get it airborne:



Dynamic range, highlight rolloff, color (after a light grade) and the absence of rolling shutter are all impressive here.

To my eye, this compares pretty well with a similarly-themed commercial shot with the $45,000 Alexa Mini and an $11,330 Freefly MoVI M15:


Now that we've seen actual footage from the URSA Mini, some people are comparing it to other cameras in the sub-$10,000 price range in interesting categories such as "cost of media" measured in  "dollars per gigabyte".

There are far important metrics that should take priority when comparing these cameras.

To most DPs, avoiding CMOS skew from a fast-moving drone or maximizing the palette of colors for flexibility in post matter more than how much a storage card costs - but other than URSA Mini, the old Production Camera 4K (and the hard-to-find Kinefinity Kinemini), no Super 35 camera below $10K has both a global shutter and the ability to record to RAW internally.

As a result, in my view, other sub-$10,000 Super 35 cameras are not really competitive with the gold standard of digital cinema - the camera that 80% of last year's cinematography Oscar nominees was shot on - the Arri Alexa.

Yes, RED Raven records to REDCODE RAW, but it lacks a global shutter.  While Sony cameras in this price class have neither internal RAW recording nor a global shutter.

URSA Mini, on the other hand, is competitive with Alexa in both of these key areas.

For what it does, the price point on URSA Mini is amazing and will change the economics of filmmaking when it starts to ship in large numbers.

Pretty impressive for a camera that costs less than the $4,500 deposit on the Alexa Mini.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.








Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

New URSA Mini 4.6K narrative film footage



URSA Mini 4.6K test footage seems to be coming fast and furious now. Some nice narrative rushes from Blackmagic tester and DP Kholi Hicks' short film Spooks:


Recorded to ProRes HQ, lightly graded and shot mostly in natural light, this is the best looking footage from the 4.6K sensor to date. Again, the roll-off from the highlights and the color seem very "Arri-like" - for 1/10th the price.

Really looking forward to seeing footage recorded to CinemaDNG RAW with this sensor.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.







Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

First ever URSA Mini 4.6K footage posted to Vimeo!



Finally - Blackmagic beta tester and cinematographer Tom Majerski posts two examples of footage from the URSA Mini 4.6K to Vimeo! Without further ado, here they are:




As Tom said in a tweet earlier day, "It's better than I expected...worth the wait."

I agree- the dynamic range and the richness and depth of the colors seem much more (dare I say it) "Alexa-like" than the 4K camera to my eye.

Now that we have started to see footage from both the 4K and 4.6K versions of this camera, I'm going to go out on a limb.  I think Blackmagic has a price/performance winner here - and we're about to see a wave of creative destruction in camera prices.

With a ready-to-shoot LCD-only URSA Mini 4K coming in at a little under $3500 (with media, battery plate, a battery solution and shoulder kit) the 8-bit JVC LS300 has a real problem at $3495.

In addition, I think Canon Cinema EOS and Sony FS prices are going to have to come down across their product lines.  I really cannot see buying a C300 Mark II for $15,999 rather than a $7,000 viewfinder-equipped Mini 4.6K.

As for me, my Panasonic GH cameras are for sale.

If anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please click on the links above or the display ads below or in the margins.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming.

And please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below) for the latest news on micro-budget video and cinema.






Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

Wooden Camera rolls out custom accessories for the URSA Mini

Pictured: URSA Mini with Wooden Camera NATO Handle Kit, Top Plate, Quick Base & 2x 15mm Rods

If you want to rig your new URSA Mini and you need more mounting points or flexibility than Blackmagic's URSA Mini Shoulder Kit can provide, the folks at Wooden Camera are ready with a solution for just about every need.  Wooden Camera President Ryan Schorman explains:




With the Wooden Camera NATO Handle Kit, Top Plate, Quick Base (or Fixed Base),  2x 15mm Rods and the Universal View Finder (UVF) Mount, you can use any EVF with your Mini, add a follow focus or matte box and mount the camera pretty much anywhere.

Wooden Camera products cost a little more than other brands - but I have used them personally and they are a great value for the money.

Kudos to Wooden Camera for being ready with a full set of accessories for the camera as the first units arrive in the hands of customers.

For more micro budget video and filmmaking news, please follow HCR here, on G+, on YouTube on Vimeo and on Twitter (button below).






Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. This costs you nothing extra. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”