Archive for March 29th, 2008

The look of the Kodak 3383

Stu “ProLost”, wrote a nice article about dynamic range and color correction last month. He posted a picture as captured from the RED ONE camera, and also posted his graded version, using a LUT that emulates the Kodak 3383 print film (that’s what you would usually use if you shot digitally but you want to transfer to film for a theatrical release). Naturally, I tried to reproduce the look by using only Vegas’ own tools (no Magic Bullet), but failed miserably. So I asked JBQ for a hand, and he spent almost an hour today working on it.

JBQ was able to get very close to the Kodak film look by using Vegas’ Curves, Color Corrector and the histogram as a guide (note: Vegas Platinum does not have a histogram, only Vegas Pro does). Please note though that Stu had the original 4k RAW frame to work with, while we only have a 720p rescaled JPEG. This means that the picture we had to work with had JPEG artifacts and far less visual information than the version Stu worked on, which is why we could recover far less information in the overexposed window. And yet, JBQ came very close to that look.

If you want the same film look on your films with a Canon consumer camera like the HV20 (you will have to slightly tweak the plugin values per scene, of course), you have to do the following:
1. Shoot in 24p with Cinemode. Cinemode’s look is dull for a reason.
2. Select “Neutral” on your camera’s color options. Remember, the more dull a picture is shot, the better it behaves when color graded. Over-saturated, sharpened, constrasty pictures (which is how consumer cameras shoot as by default) don’t color grade at all.
3. Get a good contrast filter. I would go for the Tiffen HDTV FX 52mm one, costs $200.
4. Lights, lights, lights and a light reflector. Buy some.
5. Use a gray card to set the custom white balance (never let the camera guess), and help the camera expose correctly.

That setup should give you a dull enough, bright enough, low-contrast enough, image to be able to work properly afterwards during color grading and get closer to the film look.

Update: And here’s the “Live Free or Die Hard” blue-green look: