Chansons de Charlotte

I recently color graded a short called Chansons de Charlotte, directed by Brian Windelinckx. 

He describes it as:

A musical comedy about a girl stuck in a rut - A love letter to the geniuses of the French New Wave (Godard, Truffaut, Varda & Demy) and Christophe Honoré’s revival of the genre.

Charlotte spends the night with her ex-boyfriend, philanderer Kristof, while having an affair with her French lit professor Frederik. The resulting chaos might interfere with a life-altering event for Charlotte.

And I absolutely love the film and loved working on it. It’s a musical and I love it. I love it. And … it’s a musical …
Errrr … not really my cup of tea normally (I don’t like tea by the way). 
But this little film is right up my alley and it makes me long for it to continue into a feature. 

Brian has just graduated from the KASK film school here in Ghent and this was his graduation project. Five out of ten graduation projects from this year’s bachelor students were filmed on the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII.

I’ve started keeping a list of films and documentaries that have been filmed on the dII and it’s getting quite long.

Why haven’t we seen more of these films online? Mainly because the filmmakers making them did not intend them for Vimeo or YouTube.

Most of them have entered or are entering the festival circuit and do not want much to be shown on the internet. It’s a bit frustrating if you want to show how good a camera is, but I can understand their point of view.

I was assuming that people had found their way by now around color correction and grading difficulties of the CinemaDNG post workflow for the dII.

But recent e-mails, conversations and topics on the Ikonoskop forum suggest the contrary.
And I can understand this, as Ikonoskop on their part have in my opinion not invested enough time and effort in getting the post workflow as smooth as possible.

So here’s how I color grade dII footage 80% of the time:

  1. I use the ACES color space with the CinemaDNG IDT but I don’t set an ODT. Any rec709 setting in Resolve seems to react to the Ikonoskop CinemaDNG like the work of a colorist gone mad. It’s like you only have 7 stops of latitude and the red channel is oversaturated by a 100%.
  2. Not setting an ODT results into a very dark image, but this is normal as it’s in linear gamma. 
  3. I use the custom curves to make a gamma curve that I’m satisfied with (basically just taking the centre of the luminance diagonal and pulling it up, so you get a balanced “C-shape” curve, will get you into a nice starting point).
  4. Or you can use this LUT as a starting point (use it as an input LUT in your project settings).

You might get the impression that Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop, After Effects) does a better job at debayering the Ikonoskop CinemaDNG.

I just would like you to know that Adobe applies by default sharpening and noise reduction in Camera Raw (look at the 3rd tab of Camera Raw). So if you’re comparing decoders for quality, make sure you’re sending them into battle with the equal weaponry.

Stills taken from Chansons de Charlotte.

Film Students

Last December somehow turned out to be Filmschool Month for me. 

Patrick Geeraerts, head of the editing department of RITS in Brussels, asked me to deliver a lecture on the Ikonoskop for some sixty 2nd year students (directors, screenwriters, multi-cam directors, …). I asked what the scope for this class would be and he replied: “Try to broaden their horizon!”

I don’t know if I succeeded in broadening their horizon but the lecture went somewhat like this: 1923 - Kodak - 16mm film -WWII - S16 - Eclair - Aaton - Ikonoskop SP-16 - Ikonoskop A-Cam dII. And of course on the matter of 16mm not only as an economic but also an esthetic choice. About workflow and more importantly about how filming is all about preparation and less about improvisation (some will find this debatable).

I also let Lennert De Taeye, film student at KASK in Ghent and by now experienced A-Cam dII operator, use a camera at his school for the purpose of shooting some acting exercices.

But I’ll let him speak for himself:

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In December the ikonoskop was used to shoot several acting exercises of third year film students at KASK . The school provided a RED 0ne (first generation sensor), but I’m not very fond of the image this camera produces. Luckily Joachim was so kind to provide the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII! After using it last year on a project I started to like the organic feel of the images from the Ikonoskop.  

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The first day I worked as a cinematographer. We shot everything,  except for one scene, on a dolly,  with the Vocas shoulder rig. This rig and the Ikonoskop work really well together, the counter weight on the Vocas rig is very effective to stabilize the camera movement.

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The second day the Ikonoskop was equipped with a TVLogic monitor. The compact size  of the Ikonoskop was excellent for the type of shooting: very close on the ground scenes. 

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The third day the Ikonoskop stayed on the camera tripod and rails. As director’s monitor we used a JVC monitor, the SDI-output gives a really nice image on the JVC we used.

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Last day was another shoulder cam day, this time with a very compact rig (the Vocas was unfortunately not availble).

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The data was transferred, and backups were made, on set with the express card reader to standard USB 3 drives (=fast!). 

The little camera did catch quite some attention. But everyone seem to like the image on the monitor. (Some even surprised that this little camera could produce such a great image).

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We shot with a set of Zeiss Superspeeds. Timecode generated from the Aaton Cantar. Resolve 9 and audio autosync is great! Little disadvantage you need to resync timecode every time you change the battery.

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Too handle the magenta issue I set the raw settings in Resolve 9 to BMD Film. Add contrast and saturation to bring back the image as shot. XML for round tripping between resolve 9 and FCP 7.

Looking forward to see the film’s projected in the school cinema!”

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- Lennert De Taeye

Resolve 9.1 - Are we there yet?

The latest version of DaVinci Resolve, 9.1, now includes CinemaDNG Input Device Transform (IDT) for grading Raw images in the ACES colour space.

This gives in my opinion, out of the box, the most accurate colour rendition of the Ikonoskop footage. Or as Jesse Borkowski said on Twitter: "I know! It’s like I got a new camera!"

To set it up in your Resolve projects, here’s a nice tutorial by Jesse:

If you were using the IkonoVinci.lut, be sure to deactivate it when using ACES.

RawCinemaShop’s Shot On Ikonoskop 2012 Reel

To celebrate this new year, a little tribute to the past year. It’s been quite an eventful one for me and it left me utterly exhausted. But nothing some hard decisions and time with family and friends can’t resolve. 

It was a very educational year in regard to the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII. I’m thankful for all the people I’ve gotten to know, online and in person, just by sharing interest and passion about this camera and filmmaking in general.

Anyhow, this reel is a selection of shots from about 50% of the projects that were shot during 2012 on my dII’s.
They have been graded in DaVinci Resolve by me, solely for the purpose of this reel. The goal is to show a lot of different styles of grading. So I even changed style in the different shots from the same project. Except at the end, when there’s a little edit of the two girls walking and talking. 

A big thank you to all my collaborators and clients.
Have a great 2013!

RawCinemaShop’s Ikonoskop 2012 Reel from Joachim Vansteelant on Vimeo.

Getting rid of Magenta in DaVinci Resolve

UPDATE: obsolete as of firmware 1.27 (March 2013)

There’s a lot of magenta in the shadows of Ikonoskop footage in DaVinci Resolve. I don’t think it has always been that way, but it definitely is the case in Resolve 9 lite.

There are several ways to get rid of it. I offer you one solution here that’s very quick and easy. In my opinion you have to fix it before you do any Color Correction in the Color Tab. That’s why I’ve created an input LUT that fixes the magenta issue: IkonoVinci. Well it will fix it untill Blackmagic changes something on the decoder side and/or Ikonoskop change something on the encoder side. Then I’d might have to make a new one ;-)

This means you don’t have to fiddle about in the CinemaDNG settings (Camera Raw tab) in Resolve. So leave the White Balance, Color Space, Gamma settings and use the Camera Metadata to do the Decoding. 

Unpack the zip and copy the folder into the LUT directory of DaVince Resolve. On OSX this would be: Library>Application Support>Blackmagic Design>DaVinci Resolve>LUT.

Now go to your Project Settings image. Select Look Up Tables and select under 3D Input Lookup Table the IkonoVinci.ilut.

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Then hit image

Now in your MEDIA tab image you’ll still see the magenta. But when you go to the COLOR tab image, you’ll see it’s gone. Now you can start grading.