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Ed Lachman's EL Zones


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Assuming everyone will have seen this https://www.fdtimes.com/2021/04/25/el-zone-by-ed-lachman-asc/

I'm very excited about this idea personally! Often been frustrated at relying on IRE-based interface when monitoring exposure and I can see myself enjoying a system based on stop values and something more closely resembling the zone system

If anyone is interested made a gradient map .cube LUT version in PS. It's rough around the edges but I tested it against a V-log, log-c and BMD Film using 18% Grey cards for reference and it seems to correlate in a basic way: https://we.tl/t-D5WXAfJp89

(apologies, the colours are a bit off but it's close enough to be useful)

Edited by Leon Brehony
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There are possibly problems with this.

Lachman says "“I found false color and waveform monitors much too general. They are based on IRE values, which track percentages in voltage, aren’t consistent with Stop Values on lenses or light meters, and are not the same from one manufacturer to another."

This is true.

What's also true is that noise and highlight performance, codec configuration and the behaviour of built-in LUTs and colour processing vary from one manufacturer to the next, and the interaction of real-world exposure physics with that is still going to vary on a per-production basis.

What Lachman is doing isn't invalid but I don't think it changes very much; you still have to learn each camera as you'd learn each film stock. It's another way of expressing the same info.

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14 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

What Lachman is doing isn't invalid but I don't think it changes very much; you still have to learn each camera as you'd learn each film stock. It's another way of expressing the same info.

We'll always have to learn each camera.  But Lachman is doing something different here.  He/Panasonic are calibrating the false color specifically to V-log on the varicam before any creative luts or compression is applied.  The point isn't to know much about the varicam's latitude - it's just to make the camera a really detailed spot meter.

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On 4/28/2021 at 8:30 AM, Michael Lanham said:

Awesome! Missed this! Thanks for making the .cube Leon, look forward to giving it a test!

How did you make it if I may ask? 

I created it using a gradient map in Photoshop and based it on the test images in that article. Very rough/rushed/non-scientific but seems to work well enough.

 

Also, had a friend mention that the previous LUT format wasn't working in his camera so here's an alternative download in case anyone has similar issues: https://we.tl/t-H31mmcntb9

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Sound Devices had this essentially already covered with their PIX video recorders 8-9 years ago - which had a 12-step false-colour mode, which was brilliant, and all anyone would ever need for perfect exposure every time.

Essentially, with 12-steps (the top and bottom steps being black/white clipping) what you have is a 10-step system - basically the Zone System for video. Let's you know exactly where all of your image detail is sitting - what's barely-discernable shadow detail, what's pure black, what's regular shadow detail, or mid-tones, or highlights, or specular highlights.

A VASTLY superior system to the silly little pink/green/grey false colour everyone else uses.

Convergent Design's Odyssey recorders had a system that was almost as nice, I think it was a five or six step false colour - but it was completely user-customisable. So you could set it to exactly the IRE values you needed (generally barely-there shadows, there shadows, middle-grey, normal skintone, 90% white, and just below white clipping). 

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3 hours ago, Mark Kenfield said:

Sound Devices had this essentially already covered with their PIX video recorders 8-9 years ago - which had a 12-step false-colour mode, which was brilliant, and all anyone would ever need for perfect exposure every time.

This serves a different purpose!  The Alexa is 10 years old and has had false color since the beginning.  The EL Zones are making the translation from IRE values to stops as your meter would see them.  It's a small difference but notable since no one's really taken that last step.

It is worth noting that the Alexa false color is kind of in-between.  The green and pink levels are telling you stop values while the rest are IRE information.  Which is probably why I like that implementation the best

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