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Canon's Picture Style Editor necessary for color grade?
  • I recently came upon this great short film shot with the Canon 550d, and I found the color grade just blew me away. I noticed that their was some film grain added, and some other work done, but I found something about the quality of the image to really stand out from a lot of other 550d footage. It was in fact the Picture Style Editor that Canon has which allows you to create a preset that does a color balance without affecting your skin tones. This was mentioned in the comments of the video (the 8th person down) as a main reason why the director doesn't work with a gh2, as their is no form of this for doing a proper color grade while maintaining the skin tones.

    Here is the video:

    But could you not do the same grade in after effects with something like the Color Finesse tool? Or perhaps in CS6's speedgrade program (I have not used this yet)? It would seem quite compelling to me that panasonic does not have an option like this for their camera's as it does make a pretty big difference, but perhaps it is only because their is another work around that the director of this video did not know about? I'm curious to hear if anyone knows a solution to this problem, as I'd love to keep my skin tones intact for future shoots as I really do like the color grade of this video.

    Thanks for the input!

  • 7 Replies sorted by
  • I'm not sure I understand that original comment the director made.

    Programs like DaVinci Resolve allow you to do adjustments using selective color tools (which would allow you to target or exclude skintones when making adjustments).

    But if you just want to know more about what working with the Canon Picture Style Edtior is like, here's Shane Hurlbut talking about that (and the limitations of shooting with the 5DMkII) back in 2010.

  • @thepalalias - I can use selective color tools in AE's Color Finesse as well as having a preset made just for this purpose. Perhaps there's a subtle difference, but I'm sure this video will confirm that for me. thanks for the link!

  • @RyanPW Okay, I found Kendy's comment on Vimeo and can address a bit more what he said.

    He's saying that having more control over the curves, etc. allowed him to get closer to the image he originally wanted to shoot on-set. Since both the 550D and the GH2 are limited to 8-bit 4:2:0 and the look he was going for differed significantly from the stock curves, etc. he found that he could get it closer to the grade he wanted by making changes. There was nothing unique about the skin tones - he just wanted to push the grade and the skintones where what he noticed the most.

    What he did with that approach is something that I would have done with a combination of lighting, WB, filter and lens choices on set. There's nothing magic about the Picture Style Editor - it helps you get closer but it is no substitute for shooting RAW. If you want the best grading options, BMDCC, Scarlet, Epic, Alexa and F65 are all in a different league from the 8-bit cameras.

    But if you can get the look you want on-set, that rapidly becomes less of an issue.

    If you want the look he's getting there, use a low-contrast lens in combination with an Ultra Contrast or Low Contrast filter, shoot with contrast and sharpness set to -2 and use either Standard or -2 picture profile. Use one of the more robust hacked settings to give you a little bit of extra room in post and then take advantage of the over-exposure to bring things down in post.

    As you can see he's exposing to blow out the windows (which you can do just as well on the GH2) so I don't see why couldn't get this look on the GH2 unless he favors very high contrast lenses and the absence of filters.

    I'm going to PM you some footage you can look at that uses blown out GH2 footage with available light as well.

  • Yes, you could call that a "pre-grade" in camera – very important with 8 bit and heavy compression, since it takes place before the image is squeezed down.

    I wish we had such a tool for the GH2!

  • @thepalalias - I think I see what you're getting at. To compensate for the compression of 8bit 4-2-0, a low or ultra contrast filter will give you more room in post with moving around your colors, because you won't lose as much information when you adjust the curves to compensate for the otherwise baked in contrasty look of particular lens? Still a bit confused however; Is this all for maintaining as much quality as possible in the final image, or is it like giving yourself "more" dynamic range / the appearance of dynamic range? I can definitely see the 'filmic' quality after looking at a few example videos, but I'm not sure what my eyes are actually registering as filmic hah. Thanks for the video btw, I liked that slow half-fade in the middle there.

  • Ahh, nevermind, just read up on it (don't know why I ask certain questions when I know it is already answered somewhere on the interwebs hah):

  • @RyanPW You've already found that chart, so here are a couple additional example shots, with and without (just hover over them to see which is which).

    But the short answer is that the image looks lower contrast and a little less sharp by default - though you can restore some of that in post if you want to. Those filters can flare/veil pretty easily, but as you see they can change the character of your look pretty quickly.

    So can changing lenses. :)