Thread: Improving the camera image. The Transformation. Pt.3

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  1. #1 Improving the camera image. The Transformation. Pt.3 
    New beginnings.

    This is a continuation of the thread:

    I was away for a significant chunk of the year due to a 6 month project.
    Bye Petabyte, hello Life.

    Some stuff coming here soon.

    Redusers rocking Primers should check under their Tree in the next few days.

    Happy Solstice, Creatives.
    Let the next Cycle rock.
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  2. #2  

    Primers are:

    1) Set of image signal transformations designed for each sensor response and corresponding color science

    2) Image shaping tools structured into a body of a high precision LUT, improving the imagery regardless of the shooting scenario


    a) monitoring tools - for optimal exposure decisions

    b) post-production first-light shaping tools - for optimal image basis for further creative shaping

    Every Primers set is designed based on custom in-depth camera analysis and post production signal analysis.

    It takes into account sensor performance mapped into camera manufacturer color science.
    Some tools were custom developed in-house just to make the analysis possible.

    Primers work by correcting, stabilising and naturalising the image signal inside the transformation step from input base color science to working gamma and gamut.

    With technical corrections image is further tweaked to appear and behave more like film in some parameters.

    They are embodied within a high precision 3DLUT.


    Primers are scene-independent.

    Unlike "scene-referred" transformation routes, Primers are "sensor response + base colour science referred".
    So...they correct fixed sensor + base color science induced unnatural signal offsets and normalize the signal.
    Every time.

    All one has to do (typically) to adapt the image to the scene is white balance before the Primer.


    Every Primers set keeps the full recorded DR of the camera.
    Every Primer set keeps the full gamut data.
    Every Primers set improves imaging performance of the camera.
    Every Primers set does technical corrections and additionally "naturalizes" the digital signal.

    Neither set is a replacement for a Colorist.
    They are designed with a Colorist in mind.
    Toolset which enables more and brings a smile while doing it.

    Professional Colorists, DIT's and DoPs with a track record working with many cameras can reach out over contact page for bundles.


    Improvements using Primers compared to standard transformations:

    - Colour separation
    - Colour harmony
    - Colour stability
    - DR & lattitude utilization
    - Gamut utilization
    - Overall signal density
    - Contrast - overall, midtone, microcontrast
    - Volume and depth
    - Tonal smoothness
    - Transition to signal extremes (under/overexposure), falloffs
    - Noise - amount, texture, consistency

    Care has been taken to assure organicity while keeping picture neutrality for the grading process.

    No "creative look".

    Unlike standard transformations:

    - No clipping or clamping of luminance or gamut
    - Full DR utilization with all transformations regardless of contrast, with more usable signal extremes
    - No generic and unnatural "choking" of the signal parameters
    - No typical digital over-pumping of signal parameters

    Once the image is optimized by the Primers the multitude of deep-reaching signal improvements brings:

    - More accurate exposure on set based on monitoring
    - Deeper and more accurate insight into scene colour tonality, lens color bias and light casts on set
    - More natural image aesthetic
    - More filmic imagery
    - More practical first light > more time and focus left for creative look
    - Faster, more stable and consistent post workflow
    - Easier camera matching
    - Larger creative range in grading
    - High quality first light color correction and reduced image signal deterioration

    Currently supported cameras:

    Arri cameras


    Classic, XT, Mini, SXT, Amira, LF, Mini LF

    Mini, Amira, SXT and Mini LF were analysed.

    Yes, likely A65 works too.

    Red cameras (by sensor)


    Sony cameras

    FS7 mk1 & mk2
    FS5 mk1

    Canon cameras


    Panasonic cameras


    DJI cameras

    Zenmuse X7
    Zenmuse X5


    Ursa Mini 4.6
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  3. #3  
    Holder of the place
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  4. #4  
    How to get a high quality organic image

    1) Use Primers for monitoring.
    They will give you reference for optimal exposure even if your set/camera monitor is not perfectly calibrated. No wishful thinking and overboosted imagery, if the best density, rich negative and most flexible material are a goal, Primers give the optimal response for exposure decisions.

    2) Don't use auto-WB on RGB recording cameras, set it manually and keep it on manual.

    3) Quality light

    4) Use highest quality recording.
    The fewer the bits the less the precision, texture stability and image density.

    5) Use Primers in post, for the camera sensor and base colour science they are designed for.

    6) Use proper signal chain in post.

    7) Do NOT use look matching algorithms, chart matching algorithms and do NOT mix and combine LUTs.

    Proper signal chain:

    1) Log material


    2) Manual WB, overal toning & luminance (NO saturation & contrast before the Primer)


    3) Primer


    4) Qualifiers, tonal particulars, final saturation, contrast and luminance peaks

    Creative decisions:

    Primers can be used for controlling the transiton to shadows and highlights as they compress them organically. They give the most DR to keep the organic faloff with most tonal range. Beyond that point you can reduce it and further compress the image by driving the image or part of its luminance range into the Primer up or down. This allows manual control while keeping the faloff organicity and tonal consistency.

    Additionally, some exceptions in signal chan order of operations are possible as long as you know what you are doing, like what you get and are aware of the differences between shaping the image pre and post gamma correction/tonal normalization.

    White balance

    Typically off WB on digital cameras creates tonal anomalies, wierd offsets and unnatural looks because there are always signal response dicrepanices which get enhanced by offseting the image from sensor-native white balance. This issue is, for the most part, gone by using Primers, as they iron out those anomalies and stabilize the image signal. With Primers WB control has more creative range while keeping the natural look.



    Pushing digital gain will:
    a) reduce image density (decreasing available bits)
    b) reduce grading range,
    c) reduce shadow definition, and
    d) reduce the quality of transition to shadows.

    Do NOT expect highly pushed material to have the same image shaping range. Don't bother the colorist to reinvent what you didn't capture and shape a blob of black. It doesn't matter if it's RAW.
    Do tests first and avoid the unplesant surprises and sour faces in post.

    In post, with the same low light shot, in many cases you will get a superior result by a lower digital ISO value and offset push into the Primer, then a higher digital ISO value from the start.


    In case you missed the exposure (it happens) and your camera has sufficient lattitude, simple lowering the signal with offset control before the Primer will bring the image back and slight push up should work in case of underexposure. Don't count on this as typical creative work, this is repair and compensation. Always aim for proper exposure, neither over nor under. Over is better than under, not the other way around. Under is loss of data. Over will just loose peak range saturation sooner, falloff is smooth and organic. It becomes an issue on faces. Depending on sensor. Underexposure is an issue on every camera. One stop less, half the light to quantize.

    Anyone with basic camera skills and experience in normal circumstances should be able to hit the exposure within a half of stop. Once they have a proper image representation of base log for exposure decisions for a thick negative. Which is what Primers provide.

    No guesswork and 5648463 exposure assists, circus on top of the image and 35637463 variables with special education and overthinking on how to achieve proper exposure are required.
    Watch the image and scopes, sense the image, and when it feels the most thick, and don't slam it to the extremes. Done.

    In-camera sharpening and NR
    (stills and run'n gun video cameras)

    Set to 0, none, forget they exist.
    In some cameras there is still some left even with 0 or minimum, but still...

    Both "digitalize" the imagery, texture and feel, and NR additionally misleads into underexposure, turns image detail into mush and introduces texture inconsistency. These are consumer image enhancement features and a bad idea for anything where natural aesthetic is a goal and/or material is targeted for a big screen.

    Exposing based on Primers and using Primers in post greatly reduces the option of noise being a problem and texture organicity is preserved to the utmost. In case of a cleanup need, touch of temporal NR with Neat Video with noise analysis gives superior results.

    Generally, don't treat NR in post as a standard feature. It is a salvage feature which comes with penalties to texture and motion rendition. If your imagery constanly needs salvaging, you are doing it wrong.
    No 4K, 5K, 6K, 8K or bazzilion Kays matter with underexposed material slammed with NR, because NR algos eat up the detail and spit out pastelle mush, turning texure to plastic.
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Awesome, been looking forward to this! Thanks as always, Hrvoje.
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  6. #6  
    For most stable imagery saturation goes after the Primer.

    Primer assures harmonious tonal relations and if saturation is pushed into it, before the image is stabilized, different parts of the signal get compressed & enhanced differently, which also depends on the colour space used for the operator. It is easy to mess up the signal that way, and even if you don't get artefacts, you may loose or overly enhance local microcontrast and mess up the natural image depth and volume.
    After the signal is "ironed" and stabilized, saturation control gives more stable results. For more range in post shaping there is 01 Base, which is most flat.

    I've added one example on Primers Panasonic cams web page which shows a few things, one of which is tonal harmony.
    Another is volume. There are a few others.
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Patrick Tresch's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Switzerland, Lausanne
    Sorry to ask... What is a primer?
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  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Tresch View Post
    Sorry to ask... What is a primer?
    In a nutshell:

    Primers are a set of image shaping tools I developed few years ago with a help from few industry friends, after a bunch of years shooting, testing, analysing, setuping and grading. And a bunch of other things without which this would be impossible to achieve.

    It started as an internal project for our usage on set and in post but after seeing what is possible and how much community is struggling with needless signal acrobatics, senseless conversions and post circus I decided to make it public.

    We can now get superior imagery from cameras then their own manufacturers. With one transformation step.
    Yes even Arri.

    Yes I know how this may sound and stand happily behind these words after three years of work. Primers are going fourth soon.

    I added more info in the second post.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Patrick Tresch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Switzerland, Lausanne
    Thanks for the infos. How do you applie it?
    In camera when shooting ipp2 (to embed it in the prores) or only in post (first node)?
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Brendan H. Banks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    These primers are the key to my workflow for the last 8 months. They are amazing and I'm getting them for every major camera I shoot on. I'm a really big fan of these, they're well worth the $$.
    Brendan H. Banks
    Local 600 IATSE

    DSMC2 Gemini #796
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