Like many other GH4 shooters out there, I’ve been back and forth about which picture profiles and settings are best to use when shooting with this camera. When I first got the GH4 I was messing around with my settings a lot (master ped, shadow/highlight, etc.), but eventually realized that I would get much better results by not straining the camera too much. As such, I have mainly been using slightly modified Cine-D and Cine-V picture profiles, as outlined in this blog post from the fall.
I would say that I use Cine-D about 50% of the time, and Cine-V the other 50%. Both picture profiles can create beautiful images, but Cine-D has slightly more dynamic range so I do try to use it whenever possible. That said, Cine-V has nearly as much DR (I would guess there’s probably only a 1/2 stop difference between them), and it’s an excellent alternative to Cine-D when you need to nail the look in camera.
When grading my Cine-V footage, I never use any type of LUT in my pipeline since that picture profile already has somewhat of a finished look to it. With Cine-D however, I do always start my grading sessions with a custom LUT that I built around my preferred Cine-D settings. I have included a download link to the LUT below, but read on to ensure that your settings are consistent with mine so that the LUT will work properly.
On a side note, for any of you that aren’t familiar with LUTs (or Look Up Tables), they are essentially color translation files that you can use in many different post-production applications to apply a new look to your footage. They are used for many different reasons, but commonly to add contrast and saturation to flat images. For example if you were to shoot on an Arri Alexa in Log-C, you would want to use a LUT to give your Log-C footage a more contrasty Rec. 709 look. Here is an example of some Arri Amira footage I shot recently, with and without the Rec. 709 LUT applied:
It’s worth noting that you don’t always need to use a LUT to grade flat footage, but it definitely can help to speed up your process and maintain consistency across your sequence. That’s exactly why I’ve been using my custom Cine-D LUT in Resolve, and it’s saved me a ton of time over the last few months when grading my footage.
As mentioned above, the LUT is based off of my custom Cine-D settings:
Noise Reduction: -5
This LUT will still work with a number of different Cine-D settings, however it is optimized for the settings listed above.
Here are before and after shots showing what the LUT will do:
Cine-D With Noam Kroll LUT
The LUT isn’t intended to be a final grade, but rather to create an optimal starting point for color correcting the image. The order of operations in which you perform your color grade is just as important as the look you are trying to achieve, so always be sure to apply this LUT before you do any further grading.
My goal with this LUT was to get my Cine-D image looking as close to Cine-V as possible while still retaining the extra 1/2 stop or so of dynamic range. As you can tell from this Cine-V shot, it isn’t all that different from Cine-D with my LUT:
It may appear that there is marginally more DR in the Cine-V example, but that’s just because it hasn’t been graded at all yet. In reality there is still a small amount of extra detail that can be pulled from the shadows and highlights in the Cine-D image.
So for those of you that would like to download the .cube LUT file, you can do so by clicking here.
If you’re never installed a LUT on your system before, it’s actually quite simple. Just download the .cube file above and copy it into the LUT folder for DaVinci Resolve (or whatever platform you are using). For Resolve, these are the file paths that you can follow:
/Library/Application Support/Blackmagic Design/DaVinci Resolve/LUT/
ProgramData\Blackmagic Design\DaVinci Resolve\Support\LUT
Please be sure to unzip the .cube file if your system doesn’t do it automatically.
Thoughts On The Supertone Settings
Recently some GH4 users have been playing around with a new “Supertone” setting, which was developed my Michael Medgyesi. The setting is based on the Portrait picture profile and is intended to give you a graded look straight out of the camera, with an emphasis on the mid tones.
Here are the exact settings:
Contrast: + 3
Noise Reduction: 0
I decided to test out the settings in the exact same setup that I used for my Cine-D and Cine-V tests above. As I expected, straight out of the camera I got a very high contrast image that almost had a bleach bypass look to it:
Understandably, this picture profile was intended to be corrected by pushing up the saturation and presumably lifting the shadows a bit. But even still, I wasn’t thrilled with the results once I started to color grade the footage.
In all fairness if I was actually using this setting I would have lit the scene differently, but even when graded to compensate for the crushed shadows I wasn’t crazy about the look:
I think there is a time and a place to use settings like Supertone, but for the type of shooting that I like to do – it just won’t do the trick. Supertone gives you a very specific look straight out of the camera that you are somewhat married to in post, which isn’t something I am comfortable with seeing as I grade nearly all of my footage. Not to mention, creatively it is very distinct and would only be applicable to certain types of projects in my opinion.
I like to see people pushing the boundaries of what the GH4 is capable of, and very much respect Michael Medgyesi’s approach to the GH4, but personally I am going to stick with Cine-D (and my LUT for now, or Cine-V in some cases.
UPDATE: I recently released 3 Cinematic LUT Packs, which have been carefully designed to help you achieve an organic, filmic look in post-production. They work well with any camera (including the GH4 of course), and I highly recommend them for filmmakers and cinematographers looking to achieve bold color results, while minimizing time in post-production. Be sure to check them out by clicking here!