Getting the exposure and colours right (and the focus!) are the basics of video and filmmaking, but we don’t always get them correct. There are a lot of things happening on the day of a shoot, and it’s easy to overlook these simple things. The best thing is to develop a good routine to go through as you set up your shot. There are also some tools out there that make this process easier.
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When shooting with standard video gamma profiles, this technique will work perfectly. However, that is not the case when shooting in LOG profiles, because each log profile has to be exposed differently.
For example, when shooting with the Slog-2 on Sony cameras, you have to over-expose the shot. By how much depends on your preference. For that reason, you should always do tests before shooting in LOG.
In my experience, I like to over expose SLog by 1.5 f/stops. You should adjust the settings of your camera, so that the middle gray is 1.5 f/stops over when using Slog-2. In case of V-Log, I like to over-expose by 1 f/stop.
I like to over-expose even regular video gamma profiles by 0.5 f/stop. So, in the case of this video I exposed the middle gray at exactly 40 IRE, but to me it still looked a little bit too dark. So, I normally expose the middle gray at exactly 50 IRE, or set the zebra to 50%.
Now, that’s is my preference. Some people I’ve worked with have told me they’d rather not over-expose and risk blowing out the highlights. Instead, they raise the midtone levels up by one f/stop in post-production.
Another thing you will notice is that on the camera and monitor the middle gray registers as 40 IRE, but in Premiere Pro’s waveform it shows up as 50 IRE. It might get confusing, but just know that if you exposed your shot well in the camera, it will look good even if the editing program shows a different IRE value. The difference is due to several factors, like the chart scale and depth bit value, etc., but I don’t want to get into that right now. The main point is that the middle gray in regular video should be 40-60% – exactly how much depends on your preference. To figure that out, I suggest you guys do your own tests.
Remember, in filmmaking there’s no problems, just a lack of solutions!
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My name is Tom Antos. I am a film director and cinematographer with over 20 years experience in VFX & animation.
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