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Making the Grade

Note: I have a more recent C300 grading post (March, 2014) – Cool Beans, Lighting and Grading 44 North.

Philadelphia Camera Operator Kevin Ritchie, one of the lucky few to get a Canon C300 in the first shipment, has provided raw c-log footage in ProRes HQ so that others can try their hand at grading it. Kevin photographed the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philly to test out his camera.

Canon’s c-log footage is intentionally low contrast and under-saturated. It is designed to provide the C300’s full dynamic range (~12 stops) and therefore leave the widest range of options for post-production. The trade-off is that it is not viewer ready straight out of the camera, it requires the extra steps of adding contrast, saturation, and potentially stamping a “look” onto the footage.

Kevin’s comparison of his ungraded vs. his graded footage:

My stab at grading Kevin’s c-log (ungraded) footage:

More info about the production behind his shoot.

I made my grade in FCP X and did not use any plugins. I did the grade in four steps. The first put some saturation back into the clips and set their black point, white point, and mid-points. The second provided localized correction using masks with the goal of emphasizing the textures found at the prison. The third worked on a compound version of the clips applying some film grain and color tweaks across all of them. And the fourth was my Vimeo optimizer which compensates for the the darkening and increase in contrast when footage is uploaded to Vimeo, YouTube, and various flash encoders.

More info on c-log, AKA Canon Log, can be found at Canon’s Digital Learning Center.

Update – 7/3/2012: C Notes.

Update – 3/26/14: Cool Beans, Lighting and Grading 44 North.