This keeps cropping up more and more as users of Adobe Premiere Pro upgrade to the 2022 version.
What people are finding is that when they place S-Log3 (or almost any other log format such as Panasonic V-Log or Canon C-Log) into a project, instead of looking flat and washed as it would have done in previus versions of Premiere, the log footage looks more like Rec-709 with normal looking contrast and normal looking color. Then when they apply their favorite LUT to the S-Log3 it looks completely wrong, or at least very different to the way it looked in previous versions.
So, what’s going on?
This isn’t a bug, this is a deliberate change. Rec-709 is no longer the only colourspace that people need to work in and more and more new computers and monitors support other colourspaces such as P3 or Rec2020. The Macbook Pro I am writing this on has a wonderful HDR screen that supports Rec2020 or DCI P3 and it looks wonderful when working with HDR content!
Color Management and Colorspace Transforms.
Premiere 2022 isn’t adding a LUT to the log footage, it is doing a colorspace transform so that the footage you shot in one colorspace (S-Log3/SGamut3.cine/V-Log/C-Log/Log-C etc) gets displayed correctly in the colorspace you are working in.
S-Log3 is NOT flat.
A common misconception is that S-log3 is flat or washed out. This is not true. S-log3 has normal contrast and normal colour.
The only reason it appears flat is because more often than not people use it in a miss matched color space and the miss match that you get when you display material shot using the S-log3/SGamut3 colorspace using the Rec-709 colorspace causes it to be displayed incorrectly and the result is images that appear to be flat, lack contrast and colour when in fact your S-Log3 footage isn’t flat, it has lots of contrast and lots of colour. You are just viewing it incorrectly in the incorrect colorspace.
So, what is Premiere 2022 doing to my log footage?
What is now happening in Premiere is that Premiere 2022 reads the clips metadata to determine its native colorspace and it then adds a colorspace transform to convert it to the display colourspace determined by your project settings.
The footage is still S-Log3, but now you are seeing it as it is actually supposed to look, albeit within the limitations of the display gamma. S-log3 isn’t flat, it just that previously you were viewing it incorrectly, but now with the correct colorspace being added to match the project settings and the type of monitor you are using the S-Log3 is being displayed correctly having been transformed fro S-Log3/SGamut3 to Rec-709 or whatever your project is set to.
If your project is an HDR project, perhaps HDR10 to be compatible with most HDR TV’s or for a Netflix commission then the S-log3 would be transformed to HDR10 and would be seen as HDR on an HDR screen without any grading being necessary. If you then changed you project settings to DCI-P3 then everything in your project will be transformed to P3 and will look correct without grading on a P3 screen. Then change to Rec709 and again it all looks correct without grading – the S-Log3 doesn’t look flat, because in fact it isn’t.
Color Managed Workflows will be the new “normal”.
Colour managed workflows such as this are now normal in most high end edit and grading applications and it is something we need to get used to because Rec709 is no longer the only colorspace that people need to deliver in. It won’t be long before delivery in HDR (which may mean one of several different gamma and gamut combinations) becomes normal. This isn’t a bug, this is Premiere catching up and getting ready for a future that won’t be stuck in SDR Rec-709.
A color managed workflow means that you no longer need to use LUT’s to convert your Log footage to Rec-709, you simply grade you clips within the colorspace you will be delivering in. A big benefit of this comes when working with multiple sources. For example S-Log3 and Rec-709 material in the same project will now look very similar. If you mix log footage from different cameras they will all look quite similar and you won’t need separate LUT’s for each type of footage or for each final output colorspace.
The workaround if you don’t want to change.
If you don’t want to adapt to this new more flexible way of working then you can force Premiere to ignore the clips metadata by right clicking on your clips and going to “Modify” and “Interpret Footage” and then selecting “Colorspace Override” and setting this to Rec-709. When you use the interpret footage function on an S-Log3 clip to set the colorspace to Rec709 what you are doing is forcing Premiere to ignore the clips metadata and to treat the S-Log3 as though it is a standard dynamic range Rec-709 clip. In a Rec-709 project his re-introduces the gamut miss-match that most are used to and results in the S-Log3 appearing flat and washed out. You can then apply your favourite LUTs to the S-Log3 and the LUT then transforms the S-Log3 to the projects Rec-709 colorspace and you are back to where you were previously.
This is fine, but you do need to consider that it is likely that at some point you will need to learn how to work across multiple colorspaces and using LUTs as colorspace transforms is very inefficient as you will need separate LUTs and separate grades for every colorspace and every different type of source material that you wish to work in. Colour managed workflows such as this new one in Premiere or ACES etc are the way forwards as LUTs are no longer needed for colorspace transforms, the edit and grading software looks after this for you. Arri Log-C will look like S-Log3 which will look like V-Log and then the same grade can be applied no matter what camera or colorspace was used. It will greatly simplify workflows once you understand what is happening under the hood and allows you to output both SDR and HDR versions without having to completely re-grade everything.
Unfortunately I don’t think the way Adobe are implementing their version of a colour managed workflow is very clear. There are too many automatic assumptions about what you want to do and how you want to handle your footage. On top of this there are insufficient controls for the user to force everything into a known set of settings. Instead different things are in different places and it’s not always obvious exactly what is going on under the hood. The color management tools are all small addons here and there and there is no single place where you can go for an overview of the start to finish pipeline and settings as there is in DaVinci Resolve for example. This makes it quite confusing at times and it’s easy to make mistakes or get an unexpected result. There is more information about what Premiere 2022 is doing here: https://community.adobe.com/t5/premiere-pro-discussions/faq-premiere-pro-2022-color-management-for-log-raw-media/