Workflow Round-up January 2013

I’ve been trying out a lot of different workflows over the past year, based on system specs, software version, firmware version, etc.

Some people probably still think I work with, what I called, the CineForm workflow. But I haven’t used it since last summer, to be honest.

When I started using a dII I was still on a Windows 32 bit system. After a couple of months of working with CinemaDNG footage I choose a Mac Mini with a Promise Pegasus 12 TB Thunderbolt raid 5 hooked up to it, to function as a media archive and was hoping that Apple would soon release a new Mac Pro with Thunderbolt capabilities. I also anticipated a Windows driver for the Ikonoskop ExpressCard Reader.

When I started testing the Mac Mini, I was somewhat amazed by the power that such a silent little block of computing ingenuity could hold. After a couple of weeks I completely switched to the OSX platform, but was still using the CineForm workflow (via Parallels), because of its speed and raw format.

When summer arrived it was quite clear that we wouldn’t be getting a new Mac Pro, nor a Windows driver for the ExpressCard Reader. So I asked a hardware/software savvy friend to build me an editing system, with support for Thunderbolt and running on OSX.

Meanwhile, Adobe had released CS6 with SpeedGrade and for the first time I was able to  play some CinemaDNG footage realtime on the Mac Mini and had insanely detailed control on grading. It made me forget about CineForm raw.

When the Hackintosh was ready in September my workflow got drastically changed for a second time.

Let’s look at a very personal assessment, on the 2 systems, of the three mainly used decoder/transcoder software for ‘developing’ and grading Ikonoskop footage:

I think it’s clear looking at the results above what, for me, at this time is the best tool to do the debayering, grading and transcoding of my CinemaDNG footage. But it’s also clear that it depends on the system you’re using. So on my main editing system I’m now working in DaVince Resolve 9 Lite (and that’s free folks!). When going mobile, I’d rather use SpeedGrade.

I haven’t integrated CineForm in the test because I don’t use it anymore and I didn’t get it to work in Parallels 8/Windows 8. But I tested the GoPro Cineform Studio Premium for Windows just before the summer and I was amazed by the new functionalities that were integrated to debayer raw footage. Dynamic range was much improved and of course it was no longer a command line tool. But sadly enough, no Mac version with the same raw functionalities.

But then there’s John Hable at 19lights.com. I already wrote about his Ginger HDR in my last post, but in the mean time he has been working hard to improve his plug-in and I’m astonished by what he has accomplished in such a short time.

  1. You no longer have to create the .gnr wrappers - So via the plugin you can natively edit CinemaDNG in Premiere Pro!
  2. Ginger HDR supports the (outlandish) audio implementation in Ikonoskop’s CinemaDNG. So you immediately have image AND sound of your CinemaDNG footage in Premiere Pro. This is huge!
  3. It supports timecode!

This is honestly spectacular. There’s still room for improvement (f.i. better CUDA support) and John is working on this. But this is very promising.

Getting rid of Magenta in Camera Raw

UPDATE: obsolete as of firmware 1.27 (March 2013)

We’ve talked about this before. How there seems to be a magenta issue in decoders like After Effects (Camera Raw) en DaVinci Resolve and rather a green issue in decoders like SpeedGrade. So I’m writing this for those of you who don’t seem to get rid of this magenta in the shadows in After Effects.

3 images with default Camera Raw settings:

Image 1 - Zeiss Distagon mkI 12mm

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Image 2 - Canon 8-64 S16 Zoom

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Image 3 - Optar Illumina 12mm (thanks Lennert De Taeye)

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Now in the first image, there doesn’t seem to be much of magenta, because there isn’t that much shadow. But take a close look at the sides of the image. You’ll notice 2 dark vertical bars at every side. The one most on the outside is completely black. The one between the image and the outside black bar is a reference bar for the blacks in your image. Now see how magenta this is? Not only is it magenta, but it’s also a lot brighter than the outside bars.

The second image contains some more shadow. You’ll notice some magenta on the shadow side of the head (mostly below the ear). Look at the reference bar, also some magenta.

The third image has loads of shadow and a magenta cast almost covering the complete image.

I’ve made a preset to get rid of this: IkonoRaw2012. It’s nothing fancy, a combination of alterations in contrast, blacks and tint settings (Shadows under Camera Calibration tab). 

After you’ve downloaded it, you can use it as follows:

Click the little select symbol:  image  (to the right, next to ‘Basic’). Now select Load Settings find the IkonoRaw2012.xmp file, and click Load.

It gives the following results:

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That’s more like it, no? Well there’s still something funny about the second image. This one now seems to have too much green in the shadows. Setting the Tint level in Shadows under the Camera Calibration tab to -60 seems to give a better result.

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Of al the images in my CinemaDNG archive only these takes (second image) give rather greenish results in the shadows using my preset. The reason is (I assume), that this was filmed with a Canon 8-64 Super 16 Zoom. Apparently this lens has an impact on the magenta/green balance. Saving a specific preset for this lens takes care of that.

Coming up: Getting rid of Magenta in DaVinci Resolve.