Tag Archives: Arri

Making Sony Log Cameras Behave Like Arri Cameras When Shooting Cine EI and S-Log3.

Arri have a little trick in their cameras when shooting log to ProRes that the Sony Log cameras don’t have. When you change the Exposure Index in an Arri camera they modify the position of the exposure mid point and the shape of the Log-C gamma curve. There is actually a different Log-C curve for each EI. When you take this into post it has the benefit that the brightness at each EI will appear similar. But as the curve changes for each EI a different LUT is needed for each exposure if you want something shot at say 800EI to look the same as something shot at 200EI.

With a Sony camera the same S-Log curve is used for each Exposure Index and the LUT brightness is changed so that you end up altering the mid point of the recording as well as the highlight and shadow range. In post each EI will appear to be a different brightness. You can use the same LUT for each EI provided you do an exposure correction prior to adding the LUT or you can use dedicated offset LUT’s for each exposure.

But what you need to remember is that you are always working within a restricted recording range with either system. You can’t go darker than the black recording level or brighter than the highest value the codec can record.

If you do it in camera, as Arri do and change the log curve, at a low EI you seriously constrict the recording range (at 200 EI peak only reaches around 78IRE). This happens because at a low EI you put more light on to the sensor. So to keep the mid range looking a normal brightness in post it must be recorded at at a level that is offset downwards compared to normal. So with all the levels now offset downwards to compensate for the brighter exposure you end up recording your entire capture range with a reduced or compressed recording range. In addition to avoid clipping the blacks at a low EI the shadows are rolled off so you lose some detail and textures in the shadows. You can see the different Log-C curves in this Arri White paper.

Most people choose a low EI for 2 reasons, better signal to noise ratio and improved shadow range. The Arri method gives you the better SNR but while the dynamic range is preserved it’s recorded using less data and in particular the shadow data decreases compared to shooting at the base ISO.

Shoot at a high EI, you put less light on to the sensor. So to maintain similar looking mids in post everything has to be recorded at a higher level. Now you have a problem because the highlights will extend beyond the upper limits of the recording range so  Arri have to add a highlight roll off at the top of the Log-C curve. This can present some grading challenges as the curve is now very different to regular Log-C. In addition the highlights are compressed.

Most people choose to shoot at a high EI to extend the highlight range or to work in lower light levels.

The latter is a bit of a pointless exercise with any log camera as the camera sensitivity isn’t actually any different, you are only fooling yourself into thinking it’s is more sensitive and this can result in noisy footage. If you using a high EI to extend the highlight range then really the last thing you want is the extra highlight roll off that Arri have to add at 3200 EI to fit everything in.

One thing here in Arri’s favour is that they can record 12 bit ProRes 444. 12 bits helps mitigate the compressed recording range of low EI’s provided the post workflow is managed correctly.

The beauty of the Sony method is the recording range never changes, so low EI’s and brighter recordings deliver better shadow ranges with more data in the shadows and mids and high EI’s with darker recordings deliver better highlight ranges with no additional data restrictions or additional roll-offs giving the cinematographer more control to choose the exposure mid point without compromise to the data at either end.

But it does mean that post need to be awake and that the shooter needs to communicate with post regarding the brighter/darker looking images. But to be honest if post don’t understand this and recognise what you have done either buy just looking at the footage or checking the metadata what chance is there of post actually doing a decent job of grading your content? This should be fundamental and basic stuff for a colourist/grader. For a colourist/grader to not understand this and how to work with this is like hiring a camera operator that doesn’t know what an ND filter is.

The Sony FS7/FX9/F5/F55/Venice cameras can do something similar to an Arri camera by baking in the S-Log3 LUT. Then in post the exposure will look the same at every EI. BUT you will lose some highlight range at a low EI’s and some shadow range at a high EI’s without gaining any extra range at the opposite end. As a result the total dynamic range does  reduce as you move away from the base ISO.

In addition on the Venice, FS7/F5/F55 (and I suspect in a future update the FX9) you can bake in a user LUT to the SxS recordings. If you  create a set of S-Log3 to S-Log3 LUT’s with EI offsets included in the LUT you could replicate what Arri do by having an offset and tweaked S-Log3 User LUT for each EI that you want to shoot at. You would not use the cameras EI control you would leave the camera st the base ISO. The LUT’s themselves will include the exposure offset. These will maintain the full dynamic range but just like Arri they will  need to roll off the shadows or highlights within the LUT.

But monitoring will be tricky as you won’t have the benefit of a 709 type LUT for monitoring so you you may need to use an external monitor or viewfinder that can apply a LUT to it’s image. The good news is the same LUT would be used in the monitor for every version on the offset S-Log3 LUT that you are baking in as the exposure brightness levels will be the same for each offset.

So here you are a set of 4 S-Log3/S-Gamut3.cine offset LUT’s for those Sony cameras that will take a user LUT. I have named the LUT’s – 2S Down SL3C, 1S Down SL3C,  1S UP SL3C, 2S UP SL3C.

The name means (Number of Stops) (Down or Up) (Slog3.Cine).

So if the cameras base ISO is 2000 (F5/FS7 etc) and you want to shoot at the equivalent of 1000EI, which is 1 stop down from base you would use “1S Down SL3C”.

As always (to date at least) I offer these as a free download available by clicking on the links below.  But I always appreciate a contribution if you find them useful and make use of them. I will let you pay what you feel is fair, all contributions are greatly appreciated and it really does help keep this website up and running. If you can’t afford to pay, then just download the LUT’s and enjoy using them. If in the future you should choose to use them on a paying project, please remember where you got them and come back and make a contribution. More contributions means more LUT offerings in the future.

Please feel free to share a link to this page if you wish to share these LUT’s with anyone else or anywhere else. But it’s not OK to to share or host these on other web sites etc.

Here’s the link to download my offset S-Log3 Camera LUTs

To make a contribution please use the drop down menu here, there are several contribution levels to choose from.


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pixel Making Sony Log Cameras Behave Like Arri Cameras When Shooting Cine EI and S-Log3.

Beware the LC709 LUT double exposure offset.

The use o f the LC709 Type A LUT in Sony’s Cinealta cameras such as the PXW-FS7 or PMW-F55 is very common. This LUT is popular because it was designed to mimic the Arri cameras when in their Rec-709 mode. But before rushing out to use this LUT and any of the other LC709 series of LUT’s there are some things to consider.

The Arri cameras are rarely used in Rec-709 mode for anything other than quick turn around TV. You certainly wouldn’t normally record this for any feature or drama productions. It isn’t the “Arri Look” The Arri look normally comes as a result of shooting using Arri’s LogC and then grading that to get the look you want. The reason it exists is to provide a viewable image on set. It has more contrast than LogC and uses Rec 709 color primaries so the colors look right, but it isn’t Rec-709. It squeezes almost all of the cameras capture range into a something that can be viewed on a 709 monitor so it looks quite flat.

Because a very large dynamic range is being squeezed into a range suitable to be viewed on a regular, standard dynamic range monitor the white level is much reduced compared to regular Rec-709. In fact, white (such as a white piece of paper) should be exposed at around 70%. Skin tones should be exposed at around 55-60%.

If you are shooting S-Log on a Sony camera and using this LUT to monitor, if you were to expose using conventional levels, white at 85-90% skin tones at 65-70%, then you will be offsetting your exposure by around +1.5 stops. On it’s own this isn’t typically going to be a problem. In fact I often come across people that tell me that they always shoot at the cameras native EI using this LUT and get great, low noise pictures. When I dig a little deeper I often find that they are exposing white at 85% via the LC709 LUT. So in reality they are actually shooting with an exposure the equivalent of +1 to +1.5 stops over the base level.

Where you can really run into problems is when you have already added an exposure offset. Perhaps you are shooting on an FS7 where the native ISO is 2000 ISO and using an EI of 800. This is a little over a +1 stop exposure offset. Then if you use one of the LC709 LUT’s and expose the LUT so white is at 90% and skin tones at 70% you are adding another +1.5 stops to the exposure, so your total exposure offset is approaching 3 stops. This large an offset is rarely necessary and can be tricky to deal with in post. It’s also going to impact your highlight range.

So just be aware that different LUT’s require different white and grey levels and make sure you are exposing the LUT at it’s correct level so that you are not adding an additional offset to your desired exposure.

Duran Duran concert shot with 12x PMW-F3’s

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Duran Duran at the MEN

Last night was a big deal. 12 PMW-F3’s shooting the legendary pop band Duran Duran. Back in the 80’s DD were one of the first bands to embrace the video age with ground breaking, big budget films to accompany their top 10 singles that were very different to anything done before. I have to admit I was and still am a big fan. Back in April, I had a discussion with my good friend Den Lennie about possibly shooting a Duran Duran concert with F3’s. That led to a trip to Berlin in May to shoot the band at a small concert, however, lead Singer Simon LeBon had vocal problems and the entire tour got postponed at the last  minute.

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F3 and Optimo 24-290 rigged in Berlin for the concert that never happened.

We were fully rigged at the venue, ready to go when we got the last minute call that it was off. This was very disappointing. Despite a second attempt to stage the show, it never went ahead and that was about the last I heard.

Being a Duran fan, I went to see them in concert at Birmingham about 2 weeks ago. It was a fantastic gig and the whole family had a great night out. As I watched the amazing light show, I thought to myself that it was a great shame that this was not being recorded.

Then almost out of the blue I get a phone call from Den Lennie and James Tonkin of Hangman Studios. The question was… Did I think we could shoot a Duran Duran concert with just 7 days to prepare? Of course I said yes and having seen the show, I recommended that we should try to make it happen. So James and Den got together with Director Gavin Elder who has been working with Duran Duran since 2003 and the magic started to happen. Just 48 hours latter I got a message from Den to say we were on! My task was to look after most of the technical aspects of the shoot, things like camera settings, picture profiles etc.

Now, I could tell you all about the tech issues that we discovered during the recce we did when we went to a gig at the O2 arena in London, but sadly you’ll have to wait. Den, James, Gavin and myself will be doing a full write up of how we made the choices we made and some of the many challenges that a concert shoot with super 35mm cameras throw up. I can tell you, it’s not as easy as a traditional OB, not in any way. But when you start pairing up Sony F3’s with 1000mm, yes 1m, lenses, beautiful Arri Alura 18-80mm and Optimo 24-290mm lenses, shooting an incredibly dynamic light show at a massive sell-out arena concert, I think you can see why this project was so exciting!

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A pair of F3's with Optimo 24-290's and NanoFlashes on O'connor heads.

Everyone pulled out all the stops. Changes were made to the gig lighting and I created a picture profile to match. Audio was worked to perfection and the band put a massive amount of extra energy into the performance with the end result of an electrifying atmosphere and from what I’ve seen so far, jaw dropping images. This is one of those incredibly rewarding projects that I’ll remember for a long, long time.

Den and James did an incredible job organising kit lists, camera plans and crew lists. I’m sure they will tell their own story in due course.

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James Tonkin checking out on of the 12 F3's.

It’s interesting to note that as DoP, Den’s main role was an organisational role and this is something often forgotten, a Director of Photography is not just a cinematographer, but also an organiser, arranger, overseer of the cinematography. I think the term DoP is often miss-used these days often simply being used as a fancy term for cinematographer or camera operator. A true DoP does not shoot, the camera operator does that. The DoP, directs the camera operators and directs the lighting crew to produce images to his or her satisfaction.

The final Duran Duran film is going to be distributed many ways, some of which I’m really excited about, but I can’t say more at this time. I hope you will all get a chance to see it. At this stage it is still to be edited, graded etc. James and Gavin will be working hard overseeing that stage of the production.

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Me, at my camera just before the start of the set.

My role.. camera setup, creating a custom picture profile, helping on lens and kit choices, on site tech support and then operating one of the two PMW-F3’s using a B4 to s35mm adapter along with big ENG zooms. I used one of the MTF B4 to s35 adapters that I designed along with a Canon 10 to 400mm zoom. When you add the 2.5x magnification factor of the adapter system that equates to a 25mm to 1000mm zoom. My role was to shoot the close ups of lead singer Simon LeBon from the Front of House area, 160ft from the stage. With such a long lens the DoF was tiny and the shoot was hard work, but incredibly rewarding.

I promise that there will be a much more in depth write up in the future from Den, James and myself covering all aspects of the project as well as a full behind the scenes video (we had a crew shooting BTH footage). Watch this space!