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March 14, 2012

Vincent Laforet's Tips for Getting Filmic, Gradable, Footage out of Your Canon HDSLR

Whether you're using the correct ISO's on your camera, a "film style" shutter speed, or a grading friendly picture style -- using the right settings will affect your ability to get the image you want out of your camera.  It's with this in mind that Vincent Laforet shares his recommended settings for getting quality, gradable, filmic footage out of Canon HDSLRs:

First, here's a video by Jon Carr showing how to change the settings on your 5D Mark II to those recommended by Laforet, along with a comparison of three picture styles -- Standard, Laforet's Recommendation, and Technicolor CineStyle:

It would have been cool to see 'Similaar Flaat' thrown in there, but seeing as the test didn't look at skin tones it's just as well.  For folks wondering why you would want such a "flat" image, Laforet explains:

"The idea is to capture the flattest image possible with the most amount of detail and range of exposure possible.  Given that the Canon 5Ds compress the video image (it’s not capturing RAW) – you need to make sure you don’t crush the blacks or blow out the highlights as you won’t be able to correct for that in post.    You can always add contrast and saturation back to an image in post- doing the opposite is significantly more difficult."

Of course, as with any recommendation, your results may vary depending on your needs and preferences; but if you're looking for a good starting point for flexible film-like footage these settings look pretty solid.

For more of Laforet's reasoning behind his set-up check out his full write up.  What are your preferred settings?  Have you found any other picture styles that work well for you?  Let us know!

[via Vincent Laforet]

Your Comment

15 Comments

Great Stuff! I use Cinestyle if I know I have more time for post-production. I would recommend Cinema for weddings specially if you're doing SDEs.

March 14, 2012

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Can this set up be used for 60D ?
Im aware that there is hardly a perfect " one picture style to rule them all " for every situation . But it would be great to have a good picture style for general shooting . Its even more awesome if there is a set of specific picture styles for common set up such as Sunny, cloudy, Tungsten .... for the 60D :D

March 14, 2012

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aberz

I'd also be interested in knowing if these tips are good for a 60D.

March 16, 2012

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Rob

On my 550D I use:
-Marvels Advanced picture profile
-highlight tone off, lighting optimizer off
-magic lanter, intermediate iso values, ive found the cleanest ones are 160, 320, and 800..anything past that is too noisy

March 14, 2012

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John Jeffreys

Thanks very much for this very informative post.
I'm also curious if this can be installed into the 60D as I'm planning on buying one.
Does the information in this post also apply to grading stills?
Thanks.

March 15, 2012

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Marc

Shoot in RAW for stills, and you will have way more freedom

March 15, 2012

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John Jeffreys

Why wouldn't one ever want to use "highlight tone priority"? It produces a noisier image but for bright light I was under the impression that it gives a bit more dynamic range.

March 15, 2012

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cows

It saves details in overblown white parts of your image, i think. Just keep it off. lol

March 15, 2012

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John Jeffreys

With highlight tone priority you can not choose to shoot at iso 100. and that is because the camera is adding image processing to the image while in that mode. if you want as much freedom in post as possible, than turn it off.

here is what it does as far as i know:
if you have highlight tone priority (HTP) on and you are shooting with iso 200, the camera is actually shooting with iso 100 and blows up the blacks. it always underexposes the highlights with a lower iso value. that's why you can't select iso 100 in HTP mode.

if you want do post than you are better of exposing for the highlights, in the upper case with iso 100 instead of 200 in "HTP" and then blowing the shadows up in post production just as much as you want and not as much as the camera is programmed to do.

March 15, 2012

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Assuming that's true, doesn't lifting the blacks pre-compression do a better job of preserving them for post? H.264 generally throws out most of the information in the darkest areas, so if you try to lift them in post there will be terribly block artifacts. This won't be as much of an issue if the camera is lifting them before any compression occurs.

March 15, 2012

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cows

I found that flaat_2 works absolute wonders for me, check out http://vimeo.com/37993764 entirely shot with it

March 15, 2012

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Julien Cheron

Eh I thought this would be a little more in depth in camera settings...
No white balance shift? I've used CineStyle and my image just starts to fall apart when i push it too far. But maybe I'm doing something wrong in post...Sometimes its just better to get the best image on that sensor first...but that is just me so definitely check this one out from Stillmotion http://vimeo.com/28669523

March 15, 2012

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Joe

The tips concentrate on camera settings to maximise the dynamic range available later. However there is a price to pay for this - increased quantisation error. By 'compressing the histogram' you are necessarily making a choice to represent the part of the natural, continuous dynamic range of the scene that you will actually use in the final rendered film with fewer digital, discrete steps in camera. The result is bigger steps between levels of brightness/saturation, i.e. lower resolution of dynamic range where you most need it - usually in the sensitive mid ranges.

Tone curves are all about allocating the available number of bits of dynamic range where they are most needed for their end purpose. It may be technically interesting to shoot in order to maximise dynamic range but, as the video tips show, the result is very flat and by the time contrast is added back, the resolution of graduation, the fine detail of subtle differences in brightness and saturation, has been lost. This cannot be recovered in post. The decision was made at shoot and the consequences must be lived with.

As with practically everything in film, it is best to know exactly the desired end result before shooting, and to shoot accordingly. We must use the limited ability of whatever equipment we have to capture what is most important for the desired final rendition rather than for some arbitrary intermediate target. By all means shoot for maximum dynamic range but be aware that the price is loss of resolution of graduation where it will probably be noticed most.

March 15, 2012

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Tim, interesting point. I've tried many of the picture styles and have found that loss in graduation you mention that I can't get back no matter how hard I tweak the image in post. I've become more inclined to work the image in-camera before shooting by adjusting WB. WB shift, etc. to get the look I want and retain as much range and graduation as possible, rather than flattening out the image with a picture style and then trying to recover the image in post. I'd be interested to hear other opinions. Thanks.

March 16, 2012

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Mark

Old news

March 15, 2012

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Dylan