The artificial intelligence based colour grading system Colorlab Ai certainly looks like it could transform the grading process. Colorlab AI advisor and investor Steve Bayes explains why he became involved and how this technology should eventually become available to Final Cut Pro X users.
Australian feature film cinematographer/director Paul Leeming has released the first camera profile correction look-up table in his Leeming LUT Pro set for Fujifilm X-Trans sensor-equipped cameras, for Fujifilm’s F-Log logarithmic shooting profile, with Eterna Cinema, Pro Neg Std and HLG for Rec709 LUTs to come.
This is a significant and long-awaited event given that Fujifilm has finally delivered on its longtime promise to radically improve its cameras’ video capabilities with the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-H1, with the coming X-H2 hopefully improving on the X-T3 as a moviemaking hybrid mirrorless camera in Super 35 format.
Super 35 has long been the feature film format of choice for narrative and documentary production, and the arrival of improved video capabilities on Fujifilm’s X-T2 cameras was a relief after the disappointment of the X-Pro2’s video support.
Leeming LUT Pro for F-Log on Fujifilm cameras with X-Trans sensors
Even the recently announced X-Pro3 appears to have 4K Super 35 video features that may prove good enough in a pinch when more video-oriented cameras are unavailable.
The Leeming LUT Pro expose and correction methodology is based on exposing to the right aka ETTR followed by correction via camera-specific look-up-table files in one’s nonlinear editing suite or colour grading software of choice.
The ETTR method’s most vocal proponent was the late Michael Reichmann who was in favour for its use in photography and videography, and although he and many other photographers constantly lobbied camera makers for auto-ETTR in their Live View-capable cameras, to no effect so far.
Why camera makers continue to ignore the necessity of optimal exposure is anyone’s guess.
For that reason I am grateful that Paul Leeming has applied himself to solving the problem of correct exposure followed by correcting colour via Leeming LUT Pro, with the added benefit of making footage shot on a variety of affordable cameras usable in the same timeline without excessive shot matching work.
The ideal, maximum possible dynamic range and realistic colours, using Leeming LUT Pro and Expose-To-The-Right (ETTR)
Uncorrected camera maker luma and colorimetry
Luma curve and colorimetry levels corrected with Leeming LUT Pro
In the light of camera makers’ tendency to fudge their camera’s video output as illustrated above, exposing to the right appears to make footage appear darker than one may be accustomed to, but Mr Leeming has made available other, secondary, LUTs to quickly and easily raise footage low values, as explained below.
As usual, the LUT will “darken” the footage, which really just means it will make the curve perfectly LINEAR. Examine the attached image using your waveform scope in your favourite editing software, and you’ll see what that means, with the exposure steps forming a perfect “X” shape in linear fashion. This is of course ETTR, so if you under-expose your image, it will look darker.
The LUT(s) don’t make the image darker. The LUT(s) correct the manufacturer luma curves to be linear. In most (but not all) cases, this results in the image “appearing” to be darker, but it’s not affecting anything, nor clipping anything, nor adding additional noise that wasn’t in the shot to begin with.
Don’t forget, you also have the Apollo Pro Quickies to use after the corrective LUT in case you want to brighten the image without clipping the highlights or adding any more shot noise. But when you can, please ETTR and save yourself the problems (and give yourself the cleanest possible log image to begin with).
If your shot after LUT application has its highlights not reaching 100% IRE, then you underexposed it. Use the zebras as per the guide to see where the clipping point is. Expose just shy of that and you’ll maximise sensor dynamic range and minimise shot noise.
If you HAVE underexposed or simply want a brighter image post-corrective LUT, try following it with one or more of my Apollo Pro Quickies, which are expressly designed to lift the shadows in a natural way without clipping the highlights.
Stills frames from feature film shot by Paul Leeming, ungraded then graded with Leeming LUT Pro
Ungraded, straight out of camera footage. The sort of non grading currently popular in Australian TV commercials.
Graded with Leeming LUT Pro. Cinematic and filmic, and far more emotive.
Settings for shooting video Fujifilm cameras for processing with Leeming LUT Pro
Pro Neg Std, Eterna Cinema, F-log or HLG
H265 recording format
DR100 for all profiles
Highlight tone 0
Shadow tone 0
Noise Reduction -4
Zebra level 100%
Quick and dirty Leeming LUT Pro for Fujifilm F-Log tryout with Fujifilm X-H1 F-Log footage
Ungraded, out of camera footage from Fujifilm X-H1 with F-Log.
Graded footage from Fujifilm X-H1 with Leeming LUT Pro for Fujifilm F-Log, plus a LUT from Leeming LUT Pro Quickies and colour correction.
I shoot documentary stills and video rather than make narrative feature movies, so often work alone under challenging conditions as in this example.
The Fujifilm X-H1 had a vintage Zeiss Jena Pentacon 50mm f/1.8 MC Auto prime lens attached to it via a Gobe M42-to-X-mount adapter with no neutral density filter, and I fudged on setting a custom white balance as I was more concerned with understanding the creative possibilities of this lens for video than in getting technicalities perfect.
An adapted 50mm lens on an APS-C/Super 35 camera equates to 75mm in the 35mm sensor format, which is one of my favourite focal lengths for documentary photography and video.
I have been throughly enjoying trying out this lens and its companion, a Panagor PMC 28mm f/2.8 wide-angle prime lens that Paul Leeming kindly gave us.
These sorts of vintage prime lenses are rare and overpriced here in Sydney, at least ever since camera stores like Foto Reisel with their secondhand gear cabinets closed down.
Fujifilm Super 35/APS-C hybrid cameras capable of shooting 4K and Cinema 4K F-Log video as well as in other picture profiles: X-T3, X-H1 and X-Pro3
Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 battery grip and Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR professional zoom lens. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.
Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with MHG-XPRO3 grip and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens.
The Luminous Landscape – Expose Right – This once-essential website is now paywalled, though a limited number of free page views is permitted before paying for access.
The Luminous Landscape – Optimizing Exposure – “In 2003 I wrote a tutorial titled Expose Right. To my knowledge this was the first generally available essay that discussed the realities of digital exposure, as opposed to that required for film. Since then the technique described has become known as ETTR (Expose To The Right)…. A live-view histogram-based auto-exposure system is all that needed to generate the best possible exposure from a technical perspective.”
Wayback Machine – Optimizing Exposure: Why Do Camera Makers Give Us 19th Century Exposures With Our 21st Century Cameras? – “In digital photography, exposing to the right (ETTR) is the technique of adjusting the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO (without causing unwanted saturation) to collect the maximum amount. So – here we are, more than a decade into the DSLR revolution (and the new century) and camera makers are still using 25, 50, even 100+ year old exposure technology in our latest cameras. Why? I really can’t say, but they should be taken to task for not delivering the best image quality that their cameras are capable of and thus get the optimum performance out of the digital image sensor.”
“In this article, Sam Mestman looks at each Apple product that can shoot or edit, indicates its place for filmmaking and also tells us which models he recommends. If you’re thinking of buying a new Mac, iPad or iPhone, this is for you!”
Expatriate ex-Wollongong moviemaker Sam Mestman and longtime contributor to Final Cut Pro website fcp.co recently assumed an editorial role there with the aim of stepping up his articles for the site after giving up his coalface role at post-production workflow company LumaForge.
Mr Mestman has been instrumental as an ambassador, educator and advocate for moviemaking for the people throughout the United States and shares invaluable insights in his articles.
I highly recommend regular visits to fcp.co to all moviemakers whether you use Apple hardware and software or not.
“I spent a quarter of a century editing on Avid and several years on Premiere Pro, so why did I decide to ditch them both and go with Final Cut Pro X? I’ll tell ya….
There’s a small but growing number of editors who have made the jump. The process is fairly predictable. Surprise when we first hear a fellow editor rave about FCPX. Followed by a willingness to give it a shot. And then two weeks of massive discouragement and frustration, because it’s unlike any other edit system we’ve used before. And finally, the lightbulb moment, the “NOW I get it” realization that comes with understanding the radically different workflow….”
LumaForge – “Jellyfish shared storage is designed for one thing and one thing only: collaborative editing. This requires a respect for the programs that make video creation intuitive to you. We’re platform agnostic because we believe the problem isn’t with the NLE you’ve chosen, but rather with the lack of ingenuity in the shared storage experience. It’s hard enough to find software you love. We’re making it possible for you to work seamlessly with the programs you’re comfortable with, while no longer needing to continuously pass drives back and forth.”
Leeming LUT Pro has been released for a range of popular mirrorless, drone and action cameras, so Paul Leeming is working on his Leeming LUT Pro Fujifilm combo pack.
Mr Leeming has just purchased a Fujifilm X-T3 Super 35/APS-C hybrid camera in order to dig deep into Fujifilm cameras’ video settings and capabilities.
Cameras currently supported by Leeming LUT Pro include those made by Blackmagic Design, DJI, GoPro, Panasonic and Sony, with a list of which camera models are included now available at the Leeming LUT Pro web page.
The use of LUTs aka look-up tables for camera-matching profiles, dynamic range curve correction and creative looks is supported by a number modern nonlinear editing and colour grading applications including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, Cyberlink PowerDirector, DaVince Resolve and Resolve Studio, Grass Valley Edius, HitFilm, Magix Vegas and a number of third-party colour grading plug-ins.
Several external recorders and monitor/recorders connected via SDI or HDMI are also supported by Leeming LUT Pro including those made by Atomos, BlackMagic Design, Convergent Design and Video Devices.
The news that Leeming LUT Pro will soon be supporting Fujifilm cameras is particularly welcome given that the Fujifilm X-T3 and X-T30 are proving to be excellent and affordable Super 35 video production cameras whether used standalone or connected via HDMI to external monitor/recorders.
Fujifilm X-T3 with VG-XT3 Vertical Battery Grip and Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom lens.
Fujifilm X-T30 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS zoom lens.
Using Leeming LUT Pro
There appears to be persistent and widespread confusion about how best to expose video with no end of theories flying about and pundits purporting to know which theory is currently the best or the trendiest.
Mr Leeming has throughly researched the technical aspects and limitations of a range of current and recent hybrid camera sensors and has delved deep into each manufacturer’s colour science in this longtime RED camera owner’s quest to derive the best and most photorealistic colour from every camera.
I have watched him test cameras at the Unititled studio and have noted the thoroughness with which he does it, well-qualifying him to issue PDF manuals on how to best set-up each camera, how to best expose and how best to use LUTs in NLEs and colour grading software.
Correct exposure is achieved via exposing-to-the-right aka ETTR, a principle originally promoted by the late Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape aka LuLa for digital stills photography but equally applicable to digital video.
The aim of ETTR is to adjust “the exposure of an image as high as possible at base ISO (without causing unwanted saturation) to collect the maximum amount of light and thus get the optimum performance out of the digital image sensor” according to Wikipedia’s entry on the technique.
I am currently awaiting before and after samples and other supporting images for current Leeming LUT Pro combo packs and when received will be publishing articles on each and how they work, so please come back to Unititled soon!
“… For a lot of us, we download the images to a computer and edit a handful that catch our eye, and then… well, there are more photo shoots to pursue. Maybe we’ll apply some keywords, perhaps mark a few favorites, but too often the photos we worked so hard to create are just dumped onto a hard disk and forgotten. We know we should do better, but who has the time?
Professional photographers, that’s who….”
Getty Images and Associated Press contributing photographer Brian Ach shoots a range of subjects and genres, often under the stress of tight deadlines, poor artificial lighting and the need to get every shot right or if not then the ability to rapidly reduce his selects to a manageable collection for submission, distribution and publication.
That is a far cry from the more leisurely paces and demands of shooting documentary or photojournalism projects over longer time periods, or portraits and photoessays for weekly or monthly magazine feature articles.
I took on a mix of projects during my magazine and newspaper colour supplement days, and came to prefer weekly or monthly magazine projects over daily newspaper assignments for the chance to really get one’s teeth into the subject.
Daily newspaper work had its satisfactions, though, especially in the challenge of producing engaging, informative and sometimes emotive environmental and close-up portraits in no more than fifteen minutes per subject, three to five such assignments per day, in locations throughout the city and suburbs, while carting lights, cameras, stands and tripods about.
That was during the analog era when the time and the stress of processing, proofing and printing after each assignment had to be factored into the equation and before the joys of tethered shooting, editing, processing, tagging, uploading and traveling on to the next job existed as we know them now.
If I were to go back to that world as a freelancer I would have to come up with a whole new workflow all by myself, or learn successful workflows from others, so articles like this come in handy.
So much so that I went straight to the Camera Bits website to download Photo Mechanic to try out, and from a so-far fairly cursory try-out under anything but professional conditions am seriously considering adding it to my software collection.
And I am now crossing my fingers for a similar feature set to appear in the library functionality that is appearing in raw processing and image editing applications that once used to be editing-only.
There is another advantage to having an application dedicated only to selecting, trashing, tagging and organizing – none of the distractions of doing it within a product that also offers deep image-editing features where one can easily be tempted into diving down the rabbit hole of a thousand and one different possible interpretations.
Sometimes, oftentimes, simpler and sharply focused is better.
“Moving to the smaller, lighter, less expensive Panasonic Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras has made my photography travel life much more enjoyable. Gone are the days of carrying around 12 pound lenses. Getting the most from the smaller systems I’ve started following what I call the Micro Four Thirds Triad. This first video, of my two-part series, explains the cameras and lenses needed to follow the Micro Four Thirds Triad. Watch this video to find out how you can downsize and still get the most possible out of these smaller cameras that save you cash and physical pain. Part two will be released shortly that explains the last part of the triad which is software. Software that solves most problems we have with the smaller cameras so you can produce images that compete beautifully with the larger full frame systems….”
It is timely that wildlife photographer and Panasonic Lumix Ambassador Daniel J. Cox has released his two video about the Micro Four Thirds triad – cameras, lenses and raw image processing – when Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series 35mm sensor format cameras have been announced and are now showing up in touch-and-try events at camera stores around the world.
There is plenty of life left still in the M43 sensor format for photography and video, and many M43 users will doubtless be resisting the temptation to swap over to the larger 35mm sensor format, also misleadingly known as “full frame” and “full format”, and its consequently larger, heavier and costlier cameras and lenses.
I have yet to experience the pleasure of touching and trying Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and S1R cameras and lenses, and am looking forward to several touch-and-try events in Sydney CBD camera stores next week.
Right now I do have some years of experience using Panasonic’s excellent little M43 camera and lenses, as well as Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro professional-quality lenses, for photography and video, and can attest to the high image quality that can obtained from the M43 sensor format.
When I first tried out M43 cameras and lenses, I was struck at how well-suited they are to documentary photography and photojournalism due to their small size and oftentimes innocuous appearance quite unlike that of the big and heavy DSLR cameras and three-zoom-lens kits of which my former magazine and newspaper colleagues still seem to be fond.
There is nothing wrong with larger cameras, as I amply proved every day during my editorial photography career when I would rely on 4″x5″ sheet film, 120 roll film and 35mm rangefinder cameras far more than I did on the regulation 35mm analog film SLRs of the day.
The Panasonic Lumix S1R with its almost-50 megapixels of resolution, for example, is an intriguing proposition for shooting portraits to be printed extra large for exhibiting in gallery shows.
But meanwhile Daniel J. Cox is sharing some good advice in these videos on how to produce image files large and detailed enough to print up to 24″ x 36″ for exhibition and sale to collectors.
I can attest to the quality and speed of using Mr Cox’s number one raw processing software choice, DxO PhotoLab, as well as the utility value of ON1, Inc.’s ON1 Resize 2018 software which is also available as a component of ON1 Photo Raw.
I note that he lists Phase One’s Capture One Pro as his second choice for raw image processing and image editing, and can attest that it makes a great choice when processing Fujifilm X-Trans image files which are, sadly, not supported by DxO PhotoLab.
I often carry a Panasonic M43 camera alongside a Fujifilm APS-C camera, most often my X-Pro2 along with my Lumix GX8, for their distinctly different ways of seeing and recording the world, and it can be difficult to tell which picture was shot with what camera when processing both in Capture One Pro, especially when applying film simulation styles from any of 1stylespro’s three collections – Portrait Styles, Film Styles or Film Styles Extended.
“This video demystifies use of Rec.2020 HDR footage on a Rec.709 timeline in Final Cut Pro X 10.4.x, especially for Panasonic GH5 & GH5S users who shoot in HLG. I don’t own a SONY camera, but the same workflow shown in my video would apply to Sony Rec.2020 HLG as well. Leeming LUT offers a Sony HLG to Rec.709 LUT….”
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 with Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.
Panasonic DC-GH5S with DMW-BGGH5 battery grip and Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.