Canon and CINESTYLE and Grading, OH MY!

wwjd wrote on 7/31/2013, 3:45 PM
Anybody here working with Canon DSLR and CINESTYLE, using Vegas for Color Grading?
Curious about that experience. I felt I had to work too hard to get solid bright colors out of Cinestyle's -2 saturation setting, so I bumped it up to +4, and that WORKS, BUT.... when I push the colors more in Vegas, I get sizzling, popping, blocky active color patches.
But when I go back to -2 SAT, the colors seem to blend better - less sizzling, less BLOCKS - and am wondering what others are doing?

Example, if I went -4 Saturation, is that closer to FLAT "LOG" type video and would that be cleaner to color grade or impossible to get colors out of?

(I know I should use After Effects, or Resolve Lite to grade, but Im using Vegas)


Serena wrote on 7/31/2013, 6:49 PM
Can't advise on your specifics (Canon) but wonder whether you have the optimum workflow. Sounds as if you are starting with colour correction where your first step should be colour curves to adjust the images to REC709 profile (increase mid tones contrast). A typical order of corrections is curves, levels, colour.
wwjd wrote on 7/31/2013, 10:47 PM
I will definitely keep that flow in mind, and I think I have instictively done it like that (whitebalance via curves or Sony White, bright/contrast, coloring) but it seems no matter what I do, if I have saturation too high in camera, it sizzles and blocks up when I try much of any coloring. That's probably exactly why Technicolor recommended low sharp and low saturation because you get better coloring in post than in the crappy file.
Serena wrote on 8/1/2013, 2:49 AM
Ah, so you were talking about modifying the camera's colour matrix. Sorry about that. Unless you are wanting viewable clips straight out of the camera (REC709) your aim is to collect as much image data as possible and do all adjustments in post. Obviously you have to set the camera up first (which might well involve adjusting camera parameters) but the aim of extended profiles (e.g. S-log) is to maximise dynamic range, which results in flat looking camera images having unclipped highlights and detailed blacks. Your goal in setting up the camera is to record images that can be readily graded and should you bake extremes into the images (by seriously off-setting matrix values) it makes grading that much harder. I recommend using camera default image profiles until you can quantify the effects of whatever changes you make. Very likely other users have established optimised profiles -- see DVInfo.
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JasonATL wrote on 8/1/2013, 6:35 AM
As Serena has pointed out, the goal of Cinestyle is to get the most information in camera, not necessarily the best looking non-graded image. With the most information, the post workflow is then critical in getting a good looking image.

I think that problem that you are encountering is that we're dealing with an 8-bit codec. There isn't that much flexibility to begin with. When you increase the saturation in camera, my thinking is that it is essentially "clipping" that color, leading to the splotchy look.

My own view in how I've used Cinestyle is that I should use the recommended settings and figure out how to treat it in post. My reasoning is that Technicolor's business is color. They spent time and money in developing Cinestyle. I would trust their advice to keep saturation at -2 in camera.

Unfortunately, I can't give you more advice on how to get more out of it using Sony's color correction tools. I usually use Magic Bullet Looks. However, when I did use Sony's tools, the most effective treatment I found for adding back in contrast and saturation was using Curves. A reasonably aggressive curve to pull down the shadows and up the highlights (two handles - one at the bottom pulled to the right and one at the top pulled to the left) would yield quite good results, assuming the white balance was good. In essence, it would take Cinestyle and make it look Standard.

My on-again, off-again affair with Cinestyle is that it seemed to band more in the gradients (e.g., sky or solid colored wall). I don't know if the "more" part is right, as the banding is likely to be mostly due to the aforementioned 8-bits limitation.
dlion wrote on 8/1/2013, 7:45 AM
i shoot with the "stock" cinestyle settings on my T2i and T5i.

in the past, i've used the magic bullet looks that came with vegas or the vasst movie plugs as a starting point.

i'm just starting a new project and my plan is to explore color correction in lightroom 5. i'm far from an artist or a colorist; i find it easy to get remarkable "looks" on my still images in lr, and by capturing a still image from a video, applying color changes to that, saving as a preset and applying that preset to the video. i haven't gone through this all the way yet, not sure what options i'll have in terms of file format and options...

this might be a viable alternative/addition to doing cc in vegas. i'll report back after i've done some testing...

anyway, cinestyle straight up for me...
wwjd wrote on 8/1/2013, 9:26 AM
guess I'll go back to -2 sat. thanks for the input. I was uncomfortable pushing the Vegas CC saturation so high trying to just get to realistic color, and I like colors popping past that also, so I tried pushing in camera. Fail. :)
I do love CINESTYLE though - I fully understand it creates flat images to be graded - and it is the only one I feel safe shooting with in my DR limited DSLR. Tried Marvels and FLAAT, still have them loaded, but I always come back to Cinestyle for the lifted low end. The others don't seem to accomplish that.
Serena wrote on 8/1/2013, 9:00 PM
I do see people who like their TVs set to "vivid", but in the real world colours are more frequently pastel than saturated. Of course photography (in general) is not the real world but only a representation of it, so images are enhanced to make that representation "more attractive". However when that enhancement becomes obvious then attention is drawn to the technique and away from the impression. Of course to convey special circumstances people do use extreme gradings (solarisation is one) , but should you apply those to ordinary images then the impression becomes all about the technique.
Good grading is never obvious in context. Yes, some colours might be enhanced to "pop", but not to look unreal. A commercial will want a product to look great AND real.
wwjd wrote on 8/1/2013, 9:29 PM
Yep. It all depends on the art, the intended result, and the expected audience. My goal is to TRY look as good as seasoned professional commercial output, with huge budgets, using only my eye, skills and tools at hand. I can't do any better than that. Whether we like it or not, unreal looks are commonly excepted and expected by the audiences of today.

RARELY do I see any pro work that is dull and washed out like the majority of DSLR footage I run across - excepting, of course, those that actually DO color correct and grade.

I know Vegas is not a correction/grading power house, but I don't have time to learn RESOLVE right now.
Serena wrote on 8/1/2013, 10:27 PM
Vegas is quite capable in colour grading. Resolve makes the work easier (once you know it), but with knowledge and some effort you can do the same things with Vegas. Possibly we differ in our understandings of "unreal looks". To me any reaction such as "that doesn't LOOK real" signals failure in grading. That is different to "that looks 'UNREAL'", meaning spectacular. And context might well be the difference between those reactions. But if super saturated colours are your artistic style, well why not. There is a book "Color Correction for Video" (Hullfish & Fowler) you might find useful.
wwjd wrote on 8/2/2013, 9:46 AM
yeah, I just look at all the commercial stuff, and recognize how much they have pushed colors past reality - teal and orange for example - and some of my peers hate that as it does not look "real", and I feel WHO CARES, looks great, people like it. I feel I'm heading toward that "This is colored PAST the real world, because it should look BETTER/attractive over looking accurately REAL" type of art. Nothing wrong with REAL looking stuff but I want to go beyond that.

I'm sure I'll be getting into resolve soon... just not looking forward to it when I'd rather be WRITING! :)

and thanks for all the input, perspective, opinions and options!
Ian E Pearson wrote on 8/2/2013, 11:26 AM
Ive graded a lot of cinestyle footage from a t2i in Vegas with great results, but in some cases I was getting banding if I didn't nail the exposure just right. I don't use it so much anymore, as I have a picture style that I prefer called VisionColor which cost about 6 bucks. It's less flat and I really like the results

With cinestyle I would add a s-curve but not as extreme as the LUTs most people are saying to use. I would also use the saturation adjust in vegas to bump up the saturation in the lows and mids without making the highs radioactive. As far as how far to push the colors, some of it is preference but there's also standards, which falls into the technical realm of color correction, not grading. That's what the scopes are for.
Serena wrote on 8/3/2013, 9:46 PM
Substantial research into what has been termed “memory color” shows that people have finely tuned expectations for the hues of particular subjects, such as flesh tone, foliage greens, and sky blues. Deviation from these expectations can create a sense of something being not quite right, which can be either detrimental or beneficial, depending on your goals for a particular scene.
Small or large, unintended variations from one shot to the next can call undue attention to the editing, and jar the audience’s attention in ways that throw them out of the program. Evening out these differences and balancing the clips in each scene to match is another of the fundamental tasks of the colorist. You know you’re finished when the color in the scene flows unnoticeably from one clip to the next.
K-Decisive wrote on 8/8/2013, 12:56 PM
You might want to give Marvelcine a try. I prefer it over cinestyle, but that's just me. I've always been able to do a lot with just the sony tools and AAV color lab.
wwjd wrote on 8/8/2013, 2:45 PM
Marvelcine is interesting, especially the WARNING about CINESTYLE. The brief thing I read makes it sounds like they didn't understand the concept behind crushing the DR into a viewable/useable color space. Yes, it raises the blacks, yes it lowers the whites because it puts the image into a space the camera can capture safely without lopping off one side or the other, or SEEM to be missing shadow detail in post. By the numbers, yes reducing the cameras DR, but in the viewable segment, I feel it brings out stuff that is lost in other filming methods.

I've got FLAAT11, MARVELS (regualr), and Cinestyle loaded up in my camera and after a bunch of unscientific testing, Cinestyle was the cleanest and better detailed than the others in the low end. I'm not worried about getting the perfect image in camera, I want to get the image that is MOST gradable in post - yet still have lots of detail in the shadows if I want.
Ian E Pearson wrote on 8/10/2013, 2:00 PM
I have tried many profiles also, and as I mentioned earlier, VisionColor is my go-to picture style now. Their goal is to emulate the color of Kodak Vision film stock. Whether or not they're successful I wouldn't know, but I do like the look. They also have VisionTech and VisionLog which are flatter for more range, but I just use the original VisionColor. You may want to check it out.

P.S. I am not affiliated with them at all. I just like it.