Cinematographer Timur Civan is busy this time of year. Toys, candy, fashion, and a long list of other spots fill his resume, which is also spotted with a feature film here and there. Often he’s shooting with his RED Dragon, or he uses whichever camera is appropriate for the production.
But he always brings along his SmallHD DP7-Pro OLED on camera field monitor. Among other things, he calls it his “modern light meter,” plus it does so much more. “Regardless of which camera I am using, it goes with me wherever I shoot.” And the recent series of candy spots shot in New York was no exception. For this job Civan had just installed SmallHD’s 3.0 firmware upgrade, which added a whole new level of functionality to his 2-year old SmallHD system. He and the DIT, Tony Segreto, were happy to try out the newest functions they had long anticipated: Real Time Color Grading, and sending graded video downstream to other monitors on the set.
The new firmware also provides for importing and applying grades in 3D LUTS, and exporting the color grading data to go to the post-production house. For the candy spot, Civan wanted to apply a particular cine look, Kodak 2393, which was developed by Juan Melara. Civan downloaded 2393 from Melara’s website and imported it into his DP7-Pro SmallHD monitor. This allowed decision-makers like the director and client to get an idea of what the video would look like after the post-production process.
Although the DP7-Pro is HDMI capable, Civan points out that he works in an all SDI world. On the candy shoot, they set the camera up in REDLogFilm and applied the Kodak 2393 LUT to the signal so it had a 35mm saturation and feel as Civan watched the SmallHD monitor.
Then the graded video was sent downstream to the director and client to view. “Previously,” explains Civan, “I would have had to feed a raw signal in log to the DIT who would have to down-feed a Rec.709 image to the director and client.” Unlike in the past, when the client and director would have viewed a flat, de-saturated image, they saw a beautiful 15-stop dynamic range “709” corrected image on the Sony OLED full size monitor. Working this way didn’t require a lengthy explanation of what it would “really” look like after post. Everyone was on the same page.
For this streamlined workflow, Civan says, “my DIT builds a custom 3D look so that the director and I can see what looks like nearly finished work. And the client sees what it will look like. So now, rather than going back and building several different looks for insurance, we have a choice of moving to the next set up, or the time savings allows us to work harder on perfecting the lighting to the LUT we want. There’s less guesswork. It helps us stay truer to the vision of myself and the director.”
And for the DIT, Civan points out: “it simplifies his process so he’s not directly tethered to the camera. If we are at different locations for scenes, we don’t have to drag all the DIT stuff with us. We just pick up the set-up on an SD card and transfer it to the new location, with the actual look to the monitor. It gives us a real consistency and helps maintain the look between setups. It is a monstrous time saver!”
At the end of the candy shoot, the footage was sent to the post house along with Civan’s LUT setups. “Our LUT gives the colorist an idea what we thought the color should look like. We applied a nice look into it.”
“All in all,” says Civan, “the SmallHD DP7 Pro makes getting the final result quicker and easier. “There’s time for refinement or making up time if we are running behind.”
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