Monday, January 16, 2012

Shooting Flatly (not the Riverdance guy)

I have been shooting quite a bit lately on Canon DSLR's, and am just now getting the hang of it. Since I am a trial and error type person, I had to learn the hard way some things that should be obvious. The biggest is that the lens makes all the difference. There is just no way to get great footage using the stock or cheaper lenses. While you can get probably get something usable in a good lighting situation, you will never get that smooth, sharp look that makes you feel really good about your footage as you sit in the editing bay. Hint: Use Canon L-Series lenses or better for great results. The second thing I have had to be convinced on is shooting flat. (This means shooting a very low-contrast, desaturated image to preserve as much detail as possible for using in post production.) Since I have started using this process, however, I have seen a great difference in the look of my footage. On the left is an example of a shot that I captured flat with a 7D and graded in post using a simple plug-in and one click.
If you are a Canon DSLR shooter, you can download Technicolor's Cinestyle picture profile for free as well as the S-Curve LUT that will "decode" the image in post. (Be sure to read Technicolor's instructions carefully to ensure best results.) The only other thing you will need is the free program from Magic Bullet called LUT Buddy that plugs in to Final Cut, Color, After Effects or Premiere Pro.  Once installed, you will simply apply the S-Curve LUT to your footage in your editor and adjust it to taste. Of course, you can do all of the grading yourself without even using this plug-in, but it is a great place to start.