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What focus mode do you use?

When doing cinematography:

- Tape measure and distance scale for things within the near range.

- Distance scale and on-screen sharpness with manual focus for things beyond a practical limit of about 20 feet.

 

(I was at a film festival all last week and saw a lot of young filmmakers' new and often first work. At least three movies were absolutely ruined to my eyes by seeing the autofocus system hunting for the correct focus plane. AF and movie capture should never be used together, IMO.)

Edited by ramarren
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When doing cinematography:- Tape measure and distance scale for things within the near range. - Distance scale and on-screen sharpness with manual focus for things beyond a practical limit of about 20 feet.   (I was at a film festival all last week and saw a lot of young filmmakers' new and often first work. At least three movies were absolutely ruined to my eyes by seeing the autofocus system hunting for the correct focus plane. AF and movie capture should never be used together, IMO.)

https://vimeo.com/208254533   A short video clip I made on SL with Summarit 35/2.4 in L-log and graded in FCP X as Arri Log C footage. Wanted to finally see what can be done with those L-log files. Not bad results, looks really promising.   Anyone here has any experience with making films on SL? How do you capture the footage, how do you colour grade later? What LUT do you use? I've looked at buying some extra LUT loaders and use some custom LUTs but decided that it's not really need

That's what focus pullers are for. There is a real reason for such a person on a set Hello guest! Please register or sign in to view the hidden content. Hallo Gast! Du willst die Bilder sehen? Einfach registrieren oder anmelden!

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Interesting. I realized I could only manually focus with the SL because the AF doesn't seamlessly go from object to object without losing focus for a good second. And this is in auto (face) mode. In The other modes, it won't even acquire focus without a half press.

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When doing cinematography:

- Tape measure and distance scale for things within the near range.

- Distance scale and on-screen sharpness with manual focus for things beyond a practical limit of about 20 feet.

 

(I was at a film festival all last week and saw a lot of young filmmakers' new and often first work. At least three movies were absolutely ruined to my eyes by seeing the autofocus system hunting for the correct focus plane. AF and movie capture should never be used together, IMO.)

 

 

+1 ! JM, ex focus puller :-)

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To answer one part of the OP's question, I'd say a gold standard for color grading is Black Magic Davinci Resolve.  It's been around a long time, once cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is now available as a free download.

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Yeah, Resolve is pretty awesome.  I've dabbled in making videos for about 10 years.  I started on Final Cut Studio 2.  Once Apple butchered Final Cut I switched to Premiere via Creative Cloud.  But I dropped that part of my CC subscription since I wasn't using it nearly enough to justify the cost.  I recently started playing with Resolve and it's pretty awesome.  I see B&H sells Resolve Studio for $945.  I have the free version.  I'm guessing the free version is just for color grading and doesn't offer NLE?  

Edited by Joshua Lowe
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Interesting. I realized I could only manually focus with the SL because the AF doesn't seamlessly go from object to object without losing focus for a good second. And this is in auto (face) mode. In The other modes, it won't even acquire focus without a half press.

 

 

Consumer video cameras with their wee little sensors can do halfway decent AF (just like the iPhone can) because they have so much DoF that the small jumps from one thing to another in AFc mode are virtually indiscernible. But they're not really usable for making more than a rather simplistic class of movies. 

 

Big sensor cameras like the SL and up need to be focused carefully, manually, and all the tricks of zone focus and planned focus pulling brought to bear to do the job right. Really, lenses with stepless apertures and big diameter, manual focus controls are best because you can focus in a controlled, measured way. Remember that in cinematography, you're capturing motion ... and the motion of focusing manipulation is just one component of a take. You can't leave it to a machine to get it right...

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To answer one part of the OP's question, I'd say a gold standard for color grading is Black Magic Davinci Resolve.  It's been around a long time, once cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is now available as a free download.

 

 

steep learning curve, to me anyway, so I got discouraged 

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Yeah, Resolve is pretty awesome.  I've dabbled in making videos for about 10 years.  I started on Final Cut Studio 2.  Once Apple butchered Final Cut I switched to Premiere via Creative Cloud.  But I dropped that part of my CC subscription since I wasn't using it nearly enough to justify the cost.  I recently started playing with Resolve and it's pretty awesome.  I see B&H sells Resolve Studio for $945.  I have the free version.  I'm guessing the free version is just for color grading and doesn't offer NLE?  

 

 

As I said already, it's hard to use, initial learning curve is steep, not very intuitive at all.

Besides, I prefer to make all my adjustments to clip in the NLE so in my case in Final Cut.

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I've done some more work on a few clips entirely in FCP X.

The clips came as SL's L-log format, shot at 1/50sec, ISO 200, EV -2. 

Shot with the APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280.

In FCP X I applied the built-in Arri Alexa Log C LUT and did some extra colour grading in each clip.

 

https://vimeo.com/208602423

 

 

What was important, it seems, to consistently underexpose each clip by EV -2.

Sharing my experience with the forum in case you find it useful for your future endeavours.

Edited by meerec
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I brought my SL for video as much as stills.  I am still working out the best exposure method for l-log but so far agree that some underexposure seems to be best.  An external 10bit recorder is a good step up but I am enjoying the SL for run and gun using the great EVF and adding an external recorder/monitor ruins the handheld ergonomics to a degree.

 

I use AF for video but not while recording -when in MF mode using the back joystick button to get focus quickly before starting to record is great for face paced shooting, and then manual focus for any fine tuning while shooting.  

 

I mainly use Resolve 12.5 -the free version is the same as the paid version minus noise reduction and support for >UHD 4K resolutions. You can add Neat Video OFX for noise reduction and it does a great job.   I find the NLE in Resolve 12.5 to be good for simple projects and the log colour grading is much easier than FCPX, especially if you are using power windows and qualify skin tones.  It is a bit of a leaning curve but well worth it (and its free).

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I brought my SL for video as much as stills.  I am still working out the best exposure method for l-log but so far agree that some underexposure seems to be best.  An external 10bit recorder is a good step up but I am enjoying the SL for run and gun using the great EVF and adding an external recorder/monitor ruins the handheld ergonomics to a degree.

 

I use AF for video but not while recording -when in MF mode using the back joystick button to get focus quickly before starting to record is great for face paced shooting, and then manual focus for any fine tuning while shooting.  

 

I mainly use Resolve 12.5 -the free version is the same as the paid version minus noise reduction and support for >UHD 4K resolutions. You can add Neat Video OFX for noise reduction and it does a great job.   I find the NLE in Resolve 12.5 to be good for simple projects and the log colour grading is much easier than FCPX, especially if you are using power windows and qualify skin tones.  It is a bit of a leaning curve but well worth it (and its free).

 

 

Can't think of hand-held video without proper stabilisation so a tripod is a must. It doesn't work for me without a tripod. Once you put the SL on the tripod, add a remote mic or an external audio recorder, you may as well add an external video recorder to the rig. The only issue is that there are many parts to lug and assemble each time and the video recorder + extra SSD drives + batteries adds a lot of cost in addition to bulk. I did that for a while for my canon 5D3 setup, was costly and bulky. So maybe stick to SL on tripod and nothing else is the way forward, but "endure" the EVF without real time LUT.

 

I already own FCP X licence and find the app easy to use. I've owned DaVinci Resolve Light for years but always stayed away from its workflow, the grading part with those connectors was very unintuitive for me. On the other hand, FCP X as an NLE is fantastic in my opinion, colour grading is a lot less powerful than Resolve but is more straightforward. It's also easy to render and export out to all formats including 4K from FCP X. 

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Yeah, Resolve is pretty awesome.  I've dabbled in making videos for about 10 years.  I started on Final Cut Studio 2.  Once Apple butchered Final Cut I switched to Premiere via Creative Cloud.  But I dropped that part of my CC subscription since I wasn't using it nearly enough to justify the cost.  I recently started playing with Resolve and it's pretty awesome.  I see B&H sells Resolve Studio for $945.  I have the free version.  I'm guessing the free version is just for color grading and doesn't offer NLE?  

The free version offers almost everything that the paid version has.  What it lacks is noise reduction, the ability to export at a resolution greater than 4K (I think that's the max) and certain types of collaborative workflow.

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  • 1 month later...

 

https://vimeo.com/208254533

 

A short video clip I made on SL with Summarit 35/2.4 in L-log and graded in FCP X as Arri Log C footage. Wanted to finally see what can be done with those L-log files.

Not bad results, looks really promising.

 

Anyone here has any experience with making films on SL? How do you capture the footage, how do you colour grade later? What LUT do you use?

I've looked at buying some extra LUT loaders and use some custom LUTs but decided that it's not really needed. I can work with what's in the Apple Final Cut Pro X quite effectively it seems.

How about you?

 

 

 

I keep seeing the same problem with this LUT. Once you have highlights in order, shadows are pretty much crushed. Have you tried Sony S-Log3 LUT?

I do color grading in Davinci Resolve Studio, and the Sony LUT results in the most realistic rendering. The only problem, with the LUT applied, the final result looks quite a bit different than the screen preview, no matter what I try. So, I do it only for a reference and then color correct manually.

Maybe applying the LUT in FCPX is a better idea, I'll try.

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Yeah, Resolve is pretty awesome.  I've dabbled in making videos for about 10 years.  I started on Final Cut Studio 2.  Once Apple butchered Final Cut I switched to Premiere via Creative Cloud.  But I dropped that part of my CC subscription since I wasn't using it nearly enough to justify the cost.  I recently started playing with Resolve and it's pretty awesome.  I see B&H sells Resolve Studio for $945.  I have the free version.  I'm guessing the free version is just for color grading and doesn't offer NLE?  

 

Now Blackmagic dropped the price of 12.5 to $299, and 14 public beta is available. 14 Studio works with the 12.5 Studio dongle. So, no 945 no more

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"I use AF for video but not while recording -when in MF mode using the back joystick button to get focus quickly before starting to record is great for face paced shooting, and then manual focus for any fine tuning while shooting.*

@matnz: Thank you, this is a clever advice! 

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I now shoot in log only and don't apply any LUT at all in the NLE.

LUT is just a convenience, a starting point for further grading, not an end.

I use FCPX with plugins of FilmConvert and Grading Central and I have the whole colour grading in full control.

Applying a LUT is completely unnecessary. It's like applying a preset filter to RAW in LR – you can, or you can make adjustments manually.

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"I use AF for video but not while recording -when in MF mode using the back joystick button to get focus quickly before starting to record is great for face paced shooting, and then manual focus for any fine tuning while shooting.*

@matnz: Thank you, this is a clever advice! 

 

 

I use a gimbal while handholding and can't manually focus while using a gimbal. At least not without needing a 3rd hand and being really careful not to shake the camera while focussing.

 

AFC is an absolute must in those cases and the AF choices just don't work well enough without needing to do retakes.

 

Gimbal hand-held shooting is a requirement for certain types of filming of moving subjects. Sad the SL dopes't seem to address the need for a proper AF solution

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I now shoot in log only and don't apply any LUT at all in the NLE.

LUT is just a convenience, a starting point for further grading, not an end.

I use FCPX with plugins of FilmConvert and Grading Central and I have the whole colour grading in full control.

Applying a LUT is completely unnecessary. It's like applying a preset filter to RAW in LR – you can, or you can make adjustments manually.

 

 

Well, this is how I look at it. There is color correction, and there is color grading. I would not mind using a LUT for correction, just to get perfect WB and contrast, but for grading everything needs to be done manually, of course. 

The problem is, even though using this SONY S-Log3 LUT gives almost perfect results, the final output never matches the graded timeline. So, what I do is apply the LUT temporarily, just to see how the scene is supposed to look when perfectly balanced, take a reference screen shot, and then remove the lut and correct manually. 

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I use a gimbal while handholding and can't manually focus while using a gimbal. At least not without needing a 3rd hand and being really careful not to shake the camera while focussing.

 

AFC is an absolute must in those cases and the AF choices just don't work well enough without needing to do retakes.

 

Gimbal hand-held shooting is a requirement for certain types of filming of moving subjects. Sad the SL dopes't seem to address the need for a proper AF solution

 

That's what focus pullers are for. There is a real reason for such a person on a set

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