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A Model Prancing Around in Her Lingerie on the Beach at Night (RED + FilmConvert Test)

02.20.13 @ 12:09PM Tags : , ,

Here on this site we have previously posted about the promising FilmConvert film stock emulator, and when my photographer friend Mario Torres asked me join him in filming the beautiful Nayara Bandeira in lingerie on the nighttime beach, I thought it would be a good skin tone test, fitting for the almost agonizingly male audience here at NFS (this may be borderline NSFW, depending on what kind of W you do). We got kicked off the beach after only a few minutes, but here’s what I shot and edited:

We shot back in October just for the sake of shooting it, but since this is NFS, I’ll share anything I can think of that might be a potentially useful technical insight — and we’ll also take a look at FilmConvert, of which I’m a big fan, and which I used to grade the video (before pushing it blue/purple to give it a colder look).

Technical stuff


I shot it on the RED SCARLET, mostly at 48FPS in 3K resolution, and edited it on a 24p 3K timeline, downscaling any 4K shots to 3K in the timeline. I only had 4 shots in the camera, so this edit represents pretty much every quality moment strung together with some different layer modes and dissolves. It’s all done in Premiere Pro CS6 except the end which I had to go into After Effects to get better control over masks.

When dealing with clips of multiple resolutions — which happens often with RED if you are shooting at different speeds, especially on the more limited SCARLET — you can have Premiere automatically scale all clips to the sequence resolution (instead of manually zooming in/out). To enable this behavior, which is not checked by default, go into Preferences –> General –> Default scale to frame size.

I find 2K at 60FPS to be fairly noisy — especially if you’re doing a night shoot like this — but we wanted a noisy, “dirty” look to the piece, so there is no noise reduction applied at all. 3K at 48FPS was an appropriate look, I thought — the grain you see in the image is the native RED grain at 3K (I did not add any with FilmConvert). If you didn’t want a grungy look, you would want to bring more lights or shoot on a more sensitive camera (I did bring more lights but we didn’t use them as we wanted a single source look).

The only light source was a Lite Panels Ringlite Mini that I had to gaffer tape to my rig due to the light having an attachment that would work on (if I recall correctly) 19mm or 15mm studio rod standards but not the 15mm lightweight standard that I was set up for. Is it a pain in the ass that there are three different rod standards? Yes.

Speaking of the rig, I used a Wooden Camera shoulder rig along with a bunch of other Wooden accessories. Wooden has since added RED packages which can get you started faster than buying accessories piecemeal, but if you’d like some suggested accessories check out our post, A Guide to Building a RED Camera Package: An Accessory List for Every Budget Level.

FilmConvert

FilmConvert is really interesting. It’s not a grading program like Resolve, though there is a standalone version. It’s also not a color-correction plugin like Magic Bullet Colorista, though there are plugins for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and Final Cut Pro (X and 7). What it is is kind of an “automatic first light” color correction pass based on emulating the 35mm film stocks that we know and love. Given many of us born in the ’80s or ’90s don’t have much if any experience with shooting celluloid, that love may be more theoretical than based on experience (I doubt we have any readers born in the aughts yet). Here’s a look at the standalone version, which includes more temperature and lift/gamma/gain options than the plugins, but shows how the overall program works and the different film stocks:

There are plenty of “looks” programs out there but there would be no way to emulate a particular film stock with any accuracy unless you knew what settings the source camera was using. And that’s FilmConvert’s killer feature. The engineers went and shot source charts with many different digital cameras — including different picture profiles for each — and then shot the same same charts with various film stocks. They adjusted the digital source material to match, and now when you film using a particular camera you can apply the same source:output settings for a much more accurate film simulation than any other product on the market (to my knowledge). Their list of supported cameras currently reads — and they are adding new cameras, including the BMCC:

  • Arri Alexa
  • Canon 5D Mk II + Picture Styles
  • Canon C300 + Picture Styles
  • Panasonic GH2 + Picture Styles
  • RED one
  • RED one MX
  • RED EPIC / Scarlet

FilmConvert also offers grain emulation but I have not experimented extensively with it. There are a lot of other options for grain out there — including those in the Magic Bullet products, as well as the scanned actual film grain of CineGrain – but I will say of FilmConvert that the grain looked good to my eye at first glance, and playback performance with both grain and film stock applied seemed indistinguishable from the native footage.

If you’re like me and you find a film stock that is more pleasing to your eye than the default look, are you still going to color correct on top of the FilmConvert “stock?” Sure. Think of FilmConvert as a first pass, where you are still going to go in and do secondaries and other adjustments. If you’re using the plugin version you apply the desired film stock and then use the host program’s built-in controls (or other third-party plugins) to make your tweaks. If you’re using the standalone version of FilmConvert — which I haven’t had a chance to use in-depth yet, as this was all Premiere/AE — then there are more adjustments you can make before exporting from there.

With RED, footage FilmConvert is going back to the RAW material so the adjustments you make in REDCINE-X or elsewhere are being tossed in favor of their film stock processing — think of it is a different color science. For this shoot I applied FilmConvert and then also used Magic Bullet Colorista II for some three-wheel color correction to push it towards a colder look — we shot this in October, so it was cold but not as cold as it is now! It wasn’t until I exported the following file that I realized just how cold and purple I had pushed it. In the following clip watch the middle compared to the bottom third — the skin tones in FilmConvert are much more pleasing and natural to my eye (I used the Kodak 5213 stock):

In the past if I’ve had any issue with RED footage it has generally been due to some excess yellow I’ve perceived in the skintones. And while this has been less and less the case of late, as the color science has improved by leaps and bounds since their early days, I still think the FilmConvert’s out-of-the-box filmic look is something I’ll use frequently (especially if it’s a project where we don’t have a dedicated colorist).

In-camera FilmConvert?

LUT that you could apply directly in the camera. If that’s the case, couldn’t you then have every film stock available for your RED? You’re still recording RAW so you’re not throwing away information or committing to a particular film stock, but you’d be able to preview in your desired look right there on set. Wouldn’t this make for kind of the ultimate digital cinema camera package? Not only would you have your default looks (REDcolor2/3, REDlogfilm, etc.) but you’d also have every film stock at your fingertips. Maybe not every film stock, but several… You could walk into any shoot and say, “I’m going to shoot with Kodak Vision 3 stock today,” and know what you’re getting while also retaining the RAW data.

I shot the folks at FilmConvert an email about this and they’re looking into the possibility of how their technology could play an on-set role. Another thought: if I were, say RED, I would just try to buy these guys — the ability to apply any of several different film-stocks in camera would be a very nice feature for any camera manufacturer, but it would make an even nicer exclusive feature for one camera manufacturer as far as differentiating themselves from the competition.

Just a thought. Regardless, as it stands today as a post tool, I think FilmConvert is a valuable addition to any digital filmmaker’s toolbox.

Link: FilmConvert

DISCLOSURE: Wooden Camera and CineGrain are nofilmschool advertisers.

COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 82 COMMENTS

  • What was this post about again?

  • Cool test. Tasteless writing.

  • thadon calico on 02.20.13 @ 12:39PM

    koo i got a bone to pick with u man! how could u do casting for your short film without checking in with us here at NFS, i wanted to audition for you man, i heard about your casting through the good folks at impossible casting and i was like i heard of koo hes the nfs ceo

    • Hey Thadon,

      That’s a good question — the prep process for the short was very quick and, while I want to do a lot of BTS on the feature itself (including posting about casting calls, crew calls, etc.), for me the short was something I wanted to get in the can as quickly as possible and have the work speak for itself — without any BTS material, blog posts about the process, etc. Hope that makes sense!

  • I think this is not experiment.. This is a ” film convert” promotion ;-)

  • The audience here might be agonizingly male… but some of us aren’t terribly interested in pretty girls. I mean, just sayin’. :)

  • Raphael Wood on 02.20.13 @ 12:52PM

    So, what filmstock did you use Koo? Kodak 5207?

  • David Sharp on 02.20.13 @ 1:38PM

    It would be interesting if Red bought them, but I think Reg Giant might benefit the most from getting them. MB Looks and Colorista are great but their film grain effect is pretty much glorified noise that I don’t find too pleasing to look at. It would be nice if they were able to put more effort into it like film convert.

  • I am shooting only girls… And for me very interesting to see how looks body (girls) shot on red camera… I have a red epic m camera and I like skin color….

  • Come on guys, I thought your site was going to stay above these kind of headlines. I won’t be coming back here if this is the kind of articles you post just for viewership.

  • Neill Jones on 02.20.13 @ 2:50PM

    Good video

  • The amount of bickering in the comments is annoying and pointless. Why say your not going to come back NFS? Why not just dont come back, like you have to make it a point that everyone has to know you wont be visiting the site anymore… is it suppose to be a threat?

    Back to the article. I think film convert is insanely useful for guys like me. I love the way it uses color and film grain to try and achieve that film stock look.

  • Been using film convert and RC3 on my MX and the problems with skin tones are gone, they’re much more natural… It’s just on spot even with tungsten lights. the only thing I do extra depending on how we light the scene is giving only 50% on the mix channel. You can get really amazing results in conjuction with Resolve but it needs some tweaking, nothing fancy, just a notch if you did a good CC.

    Nice idea of having it inside the cam, like RED do with RC2/3, you just switch it and find the stock you like most depending on the look you want.

  • Agreed Xiong, you’re the first one to even mention Film Convert (other than a joke about this post being a promo for them). And thanks Alex, glad to hear you like it too. Question about your Resolve workflow — do you export files from standalone FilmConvert, or does Resolve open up the files with the filter applied through the NLE? I’m doubting the latter is the case but that’d be nice if they had a plugin for that too.

    • No Ryan, I use the plugin on Premiere so It’s just a matter of do a first cut, grade it on Resolve then export it back to premiere or AE. If we have VFX then is AE. I would love to have it exported on Resolve but it’s just asking too much.

      We’re now finishing a job for a jewelry company using an Epic and the MX. I think now filmconvert is a must even if we’re not using that much grain, but it just balances skin tones on the fly. Quick and easy.

  • So you run this, a completely ordinary little film (love Filmconvert though. I own it!) but have yet to even mention the fantastic long post on John Brawley’s site about, you know, making drama?
    Glad you had fun Ryan. As always, the best work was in the casting.

    • I wouldn’t even call this a film… as I say it was 4 shots on one night (in October) and I used it as a plugin test.

      You know what, though? I actually AM proud of what I was able to do with 4 shots given we were kicked off the beach almost immediately. Without the slow-motion, the appropriate music, and the masks/blending modes, I think it would be “completely ordinary.” So what exactly are you criticizing? That I haven’t yet read the post you’re talking about at John’s site, which I might’ve missed because I was actually shooting this entire weekend (yes, a drama in fact), and am completely exhausted from that but take the time to post here? Not sure where the criticism is coming from — if you love FilmConvert and own it, that’s great, but I wrote this post for those who might not know about it or don’t own it.

  • KJ Halverson on 02.20.13 @ 3:38PM

    Hmmm… I don’t see that there’s anything inappropriate or inaccurate (I’ve seen a lot worse on photography blogs) about the title or contents of the post. I’ve been looking at adding FilmConvert to my toolkit for a while now and this was very helpful. Thank you, Ryan.

  • “Bitch-bitch-bitch-moan-moan-moan” that’s all I ever read on here nowadays. Cheers for the test dudes! Semi-naked chick or big hairy dude – who actually gives a shit!? Some of us have bigger worries in life, get over it.

    • Ps. Even though Filmconvert clearly isn’t a sponsor, who cares?! It’s their Blog, they can do what the hell they want. Make your own Blog and spend all YOUR time providing links to invaluable news and resources for FREE to ungrateful sponges that give you nothing in return but whining if it’s that big a deal to you.

  • Pssssssssass… :P

    On a more post-related note, I like the idea of using an in-camera LUT but that said, I think having the flexibility in post to change it up makes more sense to me. I genuinely think it’s the kind of thing you would use for a while before something goes wrong that makes you decide that it’s been fun but it’s probably safer to continue shooting flat from then on in. That said, im curious – do you think it would be advantageous when shooting compressed (say in ProRes on the BMCC) and having the LUT baked in before the compression? Would this really be beneficial in any way? Also, do you think they could replicate the stocks with Canon Picture Styles for DSLR’s too?

    • That’s what I’m saying re: RED though, the camera is shooting in RAW anyway, so you’re always able to go back to the original data. The LUT is just for your previewing purposes.

      They have already replicated the film stocks for Canon picture styles, I’m not sure of the complete list but check out their website…

  • Thanks Ryan for the introduction to FilmConvert … unfortunate you weren’t able to stay on the beach longer. I don’t quite get the criticism going on here … ? I’ve used Magic Bullet Looks extensively the last few years and this tool appears to get to the heart of film grain in digital … that I like … shall experiment.

  • Could you expand on why you were kicked off the beach? Closed after sunset? No filming? Private beach?

    • Dean and Tim,

      This is one of the things about NYC that is an absolute pain in the ass — we weren’t putting down sticks and it was a public beach (Fort Tilden), but I guess it’s closed after dark? We’re adults, we can walk around on sand without drowning… but a cop came and booted us anyway. I guess we could’ve gone and got insurance and permits, but It was a very last-minute thing and we had no budget anyway.

      • And that’s why you come and shoot your beach scenes in Miami ;)… btw Koo, How is it that we get to attach a profile picture to our names? Is it based on a number of posts or admin approved?

        Avid reader and posting more often here and there… would love to have a face that trolls can point at and bash :)

      • Thanks for your reply. Hopefully they were at least polite about it.

  • Space Captain on 02.20.13 @ 5:47PM

    If any of you don’t get the value in that piece from a purely creative and technical point of video then what are you doing here. There needs to be more posts like this rather than crappy discussions of shootouts that only have limited value. And to all you bitching about the video, please, please, post a link to your super amazing life-changing demo reels.

  • I installed Film Convert after Joe’s article on the subject. It came along just in time for me to grade my latest feature with it ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8r3oJEfZ1E ).

    I found that initially I’d mix in too much grain, and it became a process of pulling back a little each time I revisited the grade to find a level (normally somewhere within 15 – 25%) that look natural.

  • Hello Ryan, NFS staff and collaborators. What encouraged me to write this comment was the inexplicable load of bad criticism you guys received in this post. I started to put in perspective all that i’ve learned with this blog and how the information found here helped me grow, technically and artistically. I’m from Brazil guys, do you know how hard is to gather what is necessary to follow an independent career here? It’s damn f** hard I can tell you that. In this scenario the help NFS provides for FREE cannot be measured, i can’t even put into words. Freedom, that’s what you guys give me……fuel to create, to adapt, to believe. For all of that I say: thank you, and keep up the good work!

    ps: sorry for my english, it’s kinda rusty!

    • Thank you Raoni, it’s easy to get discouraged from posting when the conversation veers off track from anything productive. We sincerely try to share the best content we can and it’s rewarding to know that there are folks like you that appreciate and benefit from it! Glad to have you as a reader!

      • ” I’m from Brazil guys, do you know how hard is to gather what is necessary to follow an independent career here?”

        raoni is right, Koo, also you and Joe Marine were very important when I decided to go by myself and started making my shorts and now planning my feature, totally independent of State money, the way I do with my comics and my poetry -it helps I have a small studio doing CGI for industrial and corporate clients, but the kick came from you both guys…

        Here in Brazil there isn’t enough “team spirit” among indies.. and the big guys in here, well, their game is to protect their game! :D

    • I to am thankful for NFS, always excited when it hit my RSS feed counter, its the best site around to get news fast, and not just news but articles about the film making craft. Can’t get any better then that, and for free to boot.

    • Thanks Raoni. We work hard day in and day out to try to provide as much well-rounded content as possible. Most people don’t realize how much work goes on behind the scenes to deliver posts that are both helpful and timely, but people like you help keep us going. :)

    • Christopher Boone on 02.20.13 @ 9:56PM

      Thanks, Raoni. Also, your English is better than some native speakers who post comments here :)

  • Totally agree with you on the skin tones Ryan. the film convert skin tones easily looked the best to me, I’m not watching on a calibrated monitor though. Thanks for the info

  • I love FilmConvert! It’s my first pass but sometimes I can drop it on some footage, change the settings a bit, and I’m all set.

  • vinceGortho on 02.20.13 @ 8:56PM

    So it only works with the listed cameras and not the d800?

    • That’s true but I have been using it on cameras not listed and still found what I think is great results. I added FilmConvert on some KineRaw S35 footage (fjSuperX). Filmconvert is truly amazing and will only get better.

  • I’d like to propose that all camera reviews on NFS go something like this.

  • Man, WTF is wrong with some of the posters on here – if you don’t like the content of the article from the get-go, don’t friggin’ read on! And the total lack of a sense of humour from some of you…like the guy that complained about the title…phenomenal…

  • If I was Red I would implement that internal filmconvert option in the next camera. Sure I’m not Red, they even refuse to put filters before the sensor. Their mantra is always shoot clean and fix it in post.

  • So much hate in these comments – Why?
    I think Ryan did a great job, with little time, and showed of the prowess of this great post production tool. It’s refreshing to see these tests in more situations than some guy pulling focus between pot plants in his yard…
    I actually bought the stand alone version of Filmconvert due to NFS’ last post a few weeks ago. Since then I have received my Black Magic Cinema Camera and a really frustrating glitch pops up whenever I use the Prores files from the BMCC.
    The scrubber in the viewer window of the stand alone Filmconvert program dissapears, so i have to play the video to the point that I want to grade. When I ge there and pause, any changes to any settings (film grain, exposure, colour wheels) immediately resets the video to the first frame.
    It worked perfectly with prores DSLR footage and prores F3 footage (recorded on a ninja) it’s only the BMCC stuff – which is what I bought the program for.
    Has anyone else had this issue?
    I sent an email to Filmconvert about it, but am yet to hear back.

    • Is BMCC officially supported yet or is it still in beta? I didn’t realize they already had a BMCC profile.

      • They don’t have an official profile (yet), but as it is prores, there is no technical reason why it can’t work like any other footage (just needs more tweaking to look ‘right’). They have emailed me back and said that it must be a glitch, as you should technically be able to put any kind of footage in, as long as it is in a supported format. They have asked me to send them a small sample of my BMCC proress footage so that they can see if it affects them as well.
        I wonder if it is because I use the exFat format on my SSD that was only just realised with firmware 1.2…

  • hazem abdulrab on 02.20.13 @ 11:14PM

    man alot of you guys are soo rude…its a great post showing off film convert and for 4 shots that was good…and the lady was beautiful …dont listen to them koo keep posting whatever u think can help us…its helpful for many

  • Thanks Khoo..really enjoy this post and I am also like to get clarification from @Jimmy whether the BMCC profile is already made available or not because I do own the StandAlone software but was not aware of this upgrade.

    Great Tools for a quick grading/ correction and grain. Would love to hear if anyone has a complete working step-by-step with Resolve + FCPX + FilmConvert. I find Resolve a bit overwhelming at the moment and the shooting for our Web-series is near…hahahaaha

    • Hi Kicap,
      BMCC does not have a preset profile (yet), but you can use any footage you like with the program.
      It just means you have to tweak it a little bit to get good looking footage.
      Even with my glitch hampering any practical use of it at this stage, I was still able to grade the videos (just had to do it looking at the first frame, not the frames that I wanted) and play them through with the grade in place.
      I went with an Arri Alexa preset (this just tells the program to assume that the colour profile and lattitude is Arri – and considering the fact that John brawley calls it a baby Alexa, I thought it would be the closest) and then tweaked all of the sliders to make the flat prores footage look fantastic.

  • Nice post man. I love FilmConvert and just used it (along with Looks/Colorista) on some aerial footage with the Arri Alexa.

  • nice girl.

    and interesting stuff with filmconvert, but somehow I am overall missing sharpness their?!
    is it because of the darkness that soft?

  • Hey Ryan, nice video man.

    Do you use the grains whilst uploading for web, I messed with adding grain layers before but mostly decide to leave them out when uploading to web.

    Also wondering do you Denoise footage before adding this plug, looks very nice considering high ISO and one light?

    Cheers Buddy.

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