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Schaschwin Schoenauer

SMPTE Color Bars vs. Gray Card vs. DSC Labs vs. DSC Labs OneShot vs. X-Rite ColorChecker (BEGINNER QUESTION)

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Hey there Cinematographers,

I'm not working with films or anything like that. I'm a complete beginner, but despite that, I'm really interested in the topic and how everything works. I'm currently reading the book "cinematography: theory and practice".. I'm at the measurement part and I just have some questions regarding that.

  1. Do you use everything what I mentioned in the TITLE one after the other? Or do you just pick one?

  2. Which ones are a MUST USE when working on a set? Or it depends? If yes, then what does it depend on?

  3. Each camera has its on gamut range right? (CIE Diagram) Does this also mean that when using these charts that it will look different on each camera?

  4. When you go for a certain look (let's say you go for the classic teal-orange look like in Transformers) What are the steps going about that? First you white balance it with the charts (which charts exactly?)? Do you also have to do it when shooting RAW? Once everything is set (which I guess is more than white balancing right? concerning the camera settings) then you go for the look you want? I guess when you are shooting RAW, the main components to achieve the look is then with lighting and post production (davinci resolve, for instance).

  5. If for instance, you switch places to a darker area. Do you have to repeat the entire process with calibration (with the charts) once you have already done that on the same day?

  6. What are the typical measurements that you go about on a set?

Thank you so much for taking your time to answer all of these questions. I will probably have more questions in the future because I'm only half way through the book.

Looking forward to your answers!

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Hello,

I can't answer your questions. But you may want to try asking them separately. Too many question in one post makes it hard to answer.

Good luck!

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You ask good questions, but the answers are too much for a forum reply.

I sometimes photograph a DSC chroma du monde chart (it has everything you need).  But, I set the camera to the WB to match my lighting, and only in unusual situations will I white balance to the chart. (non standard lighting).

I shoot the chart in standard lighting to understand and see what the camera is doing when I bring the chart into color correction software, using a calibrated display.  But, most cinematographers don't have a color correction suite in their homes, as I do.

It's not very helpful to photograph the chart at the head of each camera set up, as once the film is edited, these charts are then cut out of the movie and don't appear in timeline for color correction.  If you're shooting RAW or LOG, for post production color correction, there's no need or desire to match the cameras on set using the charts. The colorist will match the shots during color grading.  Live video broadcast is another matter where the engineer will match the cameras through the video camera controls.

It's best to use the same type of camera for all cameras used on the production to obtain consistent results.  So, don't use an Arri for A camera and a RED camera for B camera.

For practical reasons, just set all cameras on the set to the same WB and make your movie.

The best chart is the DSC chroma du monde, but it does cost about $1500 these days...  This chart is designed to work with the vector scope so that you can easily see what the camera is doing color wise.  If you adjust the colors in post to put the little dots in the little boxes on the vectorscope, you have accurate color.  But, rarely is accurate color your goal in color correction.  And even a camera, such as an Alexa, does not create accurate color when white balanced, and using the "standard" Arri transform.  Arri has their own idea of what a good "photographic" image should look like.  If you shoot the DSC chart on an Alexa, convert the image to REC709 in post, and look at the vectorscope, you will see which colors Arri emphasizes more than others vs the "accurate" image that will put each color in the standard box on the vectorscope.

When I started learning digital cinema, about 15 years ago, I bought a DSC chart, waveform vectorscope, and experimented with my Varicam for hours to see what all the in camera controls did by looking at the scopes when shooting the chart.  It was a very valuable lesson for me.  These days, since you can use Resolve at home, you can skip the hardware scopes and just shoot the chart and experiment on it in Resolve and use the software scopes.

I hope this is a little bit helpful to you.

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Personally, the only time I've ever seen someone pull out a color chart is when trying to match colors between two different kinds of cameras.

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Like you I'm a beginner, but I had the opportunity to do my internship with a legendary cinematographer called Eric Yeong. I attended 3 of his shootings, He shot them by Alexa mini and actually he never used the things that you did mention.

As Bruce Greene mentioned earlier "If you're shooting RAW or LOG, for post production color correction, there's no need or desire to match the cameras on set using the charts. The colorist will match the shots during color grading. " and actually you may even set your white balance to "auto" and in post the colorist will (fix) it for you. Digital Cameras are very forgiving. 

When you shoot Raw or LOG, the image appears very flat looking, very grayish. So cinematographers use LUTs to have some rough color grading while they are shooting on set. Actually LUTs are super helpful tool to help determining the look of the thing that you are shooting. 

Here is a video that actually explain LUTs and hope you find it helpful

 

 

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19 hours ago, Bruce Greene said:

You ask good questions, but the answers are too much for a forum reply.

I sometimes photograph a DSC chroma du monde chart (it has everything you need).  But, I set the camera to the WB to match my lighting, and only in unusual situations will I white balance to the chart. (non standard lighting).

I shoot the chart in standard lighting to understand and see what the camera is doing when I bring the chart into color correction software, using a calibrated display.  But, most cinematographers don't have a color correction suite in their homes, as I do.

It's not very helpful to photograph the chart at the head of each camera set up, as once the film is edited, these charts are then cut out of the movie and don't appear in timeline for color correction.  If you're shooting RAW or LOG, for post production color correction, there's no need or desire to match the cameras on set using the charts. The colorist will match the shots during color grading.  Live video broadcast is another matter where the engineer will match the cameras through the video camera controls.

It's best to use the same type of camera for all cameras used on the production to obtain consistent results.  So, don't use an Arri for A camera and a RED camera for B camera.

For practical reasons, just set all cameras on the set to the same WB and make your movie.

The best chart is the DSC chroma du monde, but it does cost about $1500 these days...  This chart is designed to work with the vector scope so that you can easily see what the camera is doing color wise.  If you adjust the colors in post to put the little dots in the little boxes on the vectorscope, you have accurate color.  But, rarely is accurate color your goal in color correction.  And even a camera, such as an Alexa, does not create accurate color when white balanced, and using the "standard" Arri transform.  Arri has their own idea of what a good "photographic" image should look like.  If you shoot the DSC chart on an Alexa, convert the image to REC709 in post, and look at the vectorscope, you will see which colors Arri emphasizes more than others vs the "accurate" image that will put each color in the standard box on the vectorscope.

When I started learning digital cinema, about 15 years ago, I bought a DSC chart, waveform vectorscope, and experimented with my Varicam for hours to see what all the in camera controls did by looking at the scopes when shooting the chart.  It was a very valuable lesson for me.  These days, since you can use Resolve at home, you can skip the hardware scopes and just shoot the chart and experiment on it in Resolve and use the software scopes.

I hope this is a little bit helpful to you.

Wow, first of all, thank you very much for taking your time to answer me in a VERY detailed way. I really appreciate it. So, all in all, you just use ONE chart. What about SMPTE and gray card? Do you also use that? 

How do you go about filming when you want to achieve a certain look? Do you first WB the your camera and THEN you go for the desired look? Or does the white balance even matter if you are going for a certain look?

Thank you so much!!

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11 hours ago, Abdul Rahman Jamous said:

Like you I'm a beginner, but I had the opportunity to do my internship with a legendary cinematographer called Eric Yeong. I attended 3 of his shootings, He shot them by Alexa mini and actually he never used the things that you did mention.

As Bruce Greene mentioned earlier "If you're shooting RAW or LOG, for post production color correction, there's no need or desire to match the cameras on set using the charts. The colorist will match the shots during color grading. " and actually you may even set your white balance to "auto" and in post the colorist will (fix) it for you. Digital Cameras are very forgiving. 

When you shoot Raw or LOG, the image appears very flat looking, very grayish. So cinematographers use LUTs to have some rough color grading while they are shooting on set. Actually LUTs are super helpful tool to help determining the look of the thing that you are shooting. 

Here is a video that actually explain LUTs and hope you find it helpful

 

 

Thank you so much for this! Was really helpful!

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16 hours ago, Frank Hegyi said:

Personally, the only time I've ever seen someone pull out a color chart is when trying to match colors between two different kinds of cameras.

Interesting...

Thank you!

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1 hour ago, Schaschwin Schoenauer said:

Wow, first of all, thank you very much for taking your time to answer me in a VERY detailed way. I really appreciate it. So, all in all, you just use ONE chart. What about SMPTE and gray card? Do you also use that? 

How do you go about filming when you want to achieve a certain look? Do you first WB the your camera and THEN you go for the desired look? Or does the white balance even matter if you are going for a certain look?

Thank you so much!!

The DSC chart has color squares that match up to the vecotrscope, plus a grey scale.  To see only a grey scale you can crop out the colors if you wish (either in camera or in post).  The interesting thing is that if you shoot all the colors and the grey scale together, they will create a neutral image that you can white balance with.  So, if you have a DSC chart, you won't also need a grey scale and/or grey card.  Note however, that the middle grey of the grey scale does not equal the reflectance of a grey card.  I think a grey card is one or two shades darker than the middle grey on the DSC grey scale.  18% Grey cards are pretty cheap to buy and they are useful for checking a spot meter or just calibrating your mind when using a spot meter (light meter) when choosing your camera exposure.

Yes, white balance matters.  If you are shooting LOG, you need to set the white balance in the camera before shooting as it effects the recording.  If you shoot RAW, you can white balance more in post than with LOG, but it's still best to set the white balance even when shooting RAW as it sets the meta data for the clip with your chosen white balance and speeds up post color correction and, gives you the best on set view on the monitor.  So, white balance always effects the look you see on set.

Don't use "auto" white balance when shooting movies as every take will have a different white balance and not match.  Always choose the white balance in the camera menu.  If you need a custom white balance, you can grab that, using the "Auto" white balance, but use the same white balance for every shot in a scene.

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14 hours ago, Bruce Greene said:

The DSC chart has color squares that match up to the vecotrscope, plus a grey scale.  To see only a grey scale you can crop out the colors if you wish (either in camera or in post).  The interesting thing is that if you shoot all the colors and the grey scale together, they will create a neutral image that you can white balance with.  So, if you have a DSC chart, you won't also need a grey scale and/or grey card.  Note however, that the middle grey of the grey scale does not equal the reflectance of a grey card.  I think a grey card is one or two shades darker than the middle grey on the DSC grey scale.  18% Grey cards are pretty cheap to buy and they are useful for checking a spot meter or just calibrating your mind when using a spot meter (light meter) when choosing your camera exposure.

Yes, white balance matters.  If you are shooting LOG, you need to set the white balance in the camera before shooting as it effects the recording.  If you shoot RAW, you can white balance more in post than with LOG, but it's still best to set the white balance even when shooting RAW as it sets the meta data for the clip with your chosen white balance and speeds up post color correction and, gives you the best on set view on the monitor.  So, white balance always effects the look you see on set.

Don't use "auto" white balance when shooting movies as every take will have a different white balance and not match.  Always choose the white balance in the camera menu.  If you need a custom white balance, you can grab that, using the "Auto" white balance, but use the same white balance for every shot in a scene.

Awesome! Thank you! 

Does this actually mean that when you do the DSC Chart, that THAT equals white balancing the scene as well? 

What is a typical work flow when shooting a scene? What are the steps that you always take? 1. White balancing 2. Look? 3. Framing...I don't know.  Would love to hear it from you. 

Seriously, thank you so much for taking your time to always answer in a detailed way. It's amazing!

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Typically...

If I'm shooting daylight, I set the camera WB between 5600k to 6500k.  The higher number renders a "warmer" exposure.

If indoors, or night exteriors the WB is set from 2800k to 3200k generally.  And this depends on the color of light present on the set, and how warm I'd like it to look. 

If I'm shooting on a set with practical (non-movie) lights such as florescent, I will pull out the chart and do an auto WB on the chart to match the camera to the available lighting.  If you don't have a chart, use a white piece of paper in a pinch, or a photographic gray card.

I did shoot one scene a couple years ago at 9000k, under tungsten lighting for a very warm effect.  I think this was the maximum setting in the Arri Alexa 🙂

Framing and lighting create a "look" if you want to call it that.  At least on the set.  There are additional adjustments in color correction to reach the final image of the film.

Really that's all there is to it.  The rest is up to your "eye" and experience.

To learn the other technical stuff like color spaces and color management, I suggest you get a good book about Photoshop and learn how to use the software and color correction very well in Photoshop.  These concepts apply directly to color grading software such as Resolve, but there are many more books about Photoshop than movie color correction.  And practicing on still images is easier than shooting movies.  And.... it will make you a better photographer in general.

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4 hours ago, Bruce Greene said:

Typically...

If I'm shooting daylight, I set the camera WB between 5600k to 6500k.  The higher number renders a "warmer" exposure.

If indoors, or night exteriors the WB is set from 2800k to 3200k generally.  And this depends on the color of light present on the set, and how warm I'd like it to look. 

If I'm shooting on a set with practical (non-movie) lights such as florescent, I will pull out the chart and do an auto WB on the chart to match the camera to the available lighting.  If you don't have a chart, use a white piece of paper in a pinch, or a photographic gray card.

I did shoot one scene a couple years ago at 9000k, under tungsten lighting for a very warm effect.  I think this was the maximum setting in the Arri Alexa 🙂

Framing and lighting create a "look" if you want to call it that.  At least on the set.  There are additional adjustments in color correction to reach the final image of the film.

Really that's all there is to it.  The rest is up to your "eye" and experience.

To learn the other technical stuff like color spaces and color management, I suggest you get a good book about Photoshop and learn how to use the software and color correction very well in Photoshop.  These concepts apply directly to color grading software such as Resolve, but there are many more books about Photoshop than movie color correction.  And practicing on still images is easier than shooting movies.  And.... it will make you a better photographer in general.

I'm a bit confused...I thought the higher the K number, the cooler the color? But you are saying that the higher you set your K number on your camera, the warmer the look? 

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1 hour ago, Schaschwin Schoenauer said:

I'm a bit confused...I thought the higher the K number, the cooler the color? But you are saying that the higher you set your K number on your camera, the warmer the look? 

Yes. If you shoot tungsten light at a camera setting of 6500k everything will look orange.  If you shoot daylight at 3200k everything will look blue.  I suggest you take out you digital still camera and give it a try and see what happens.  Shoot .jpg so that the color is locked in the image.

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On 3/9/2020 at 11:03 PM, Bruce Greene said:

Yes. If you shoot tungsten light at a camera setting of 6500k everything will look orange.  If you shoot daylight at 3200k everything will look blue.  I suggest you take out you digital still camera and give it a try and see what happens.  Shoot .jpg so that the color is locked in the image.

Ah! Ok! Now, I get it. Is this how you actually achieve a certain look? Do you usually do it with the camera setting or rather using lights to achieve certain looks? I guess when you are shooting RAW, the best way is to do it with lights and doing it in post production (davinci resolve) right? 

For me, I will buy a dslr camera in summer...If I want to achieve a certain look...do I rather go for the settings in the camera itself or do I do it with lights? 

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4 hours ago, Schaschwin Schoenauer said:

Ah! Ok! Now, I get it. Is this how you actually achieve a certain look? Do you usually do it with the camera setting or rather using lights to achieve certain looks? I guess when you are shooting RAW, the best way is to do it with lights and doing it in post production (davinci resolve) right? 

For me, I will buy a dslr camera in summer...If I want to achieve a certain look...do I rather go for the settings in the camera itself or do I do it with lights? 

To achieve a look you use all the tools at your disposal.  Now it's time for you to learn the tools.  

You can start now if you have a phone that takes pictures.  You can even find a phone app that let's you set the WB manually to experiment with that aspect.

Time to stop posting on forums and get to work!  A great adventure awaits you 🙂

 

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15 minutes ago, Bruce Greene said:

To achieve a look you use all the tools at your disposal.  Now it's time for you to learn the tools.  

You can start now if you have a phone that takes pictures.  You can even find a phone app that let's you set the WB manually to experiment with that aspect.

Time to stop posting on forums and get to work!  A great adventure awaits you 🙂

 

Thank you very much! If I have more questions then I'll ask 🙂

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