Mike Kobal shares an ungraded and graded cinestyle test

by planetmitch26 Comments

Mike Kobal sends in a lot of stuff (thanks Mike!) and he sent this some time ago and I found it interesting to see his comparison of the ungraded CineStyle picture profile from Technicolor with a graded one. Do your best to press play on both of these at the same time so you can see what an impact the grading can have.

I received quite a few emails asking for ungraded cinestyle footage. Here we go ladies an gentlemen, check out the graded version first (with my new secret magic homemade nostalgia filter), compare to the totally ungraded cinestyle version




I am torn, one minute i prefer the graded, then next the ungraded!

A few thoughts re this profile (download it from here):

I have been using it since the day it was released. Never looked back. Until we get to shoot raw video this is the closest we will get to nirvana! I dig the super flat curve as a starting point for grading. Much easier to achieve the look one is after with a few minor tweaks rather then from high contrast, over saturated footage. The tonal range in this shoot really begged to be pushed towards high key lighting and the flat tone curve totally supports the look.

Hitting the exposure was key and so was setting the white balance. Hand held 5D2, only two lenses, the Zeiss Macro Planar 100mm and the Macro Planar 50mm. My two new favorite lenses.

The bokeh is amazing and the ability to go very close without additional attachments makes work a lot easier!

And my Zacuto EVF! Can’t live without it. Still using the iDC follow focus although without the follow focus on the Zeiss lenses since the friction method doesn’t really work, however the mounting bracket provides a stable EVF platform.

If you like what you hear: music.zackhemsey.com

So, what do you think?

Which one do you prefer?

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


  1. Interesting—As far as preference–on my computer screen–definitely the ungraded–however — where is the end result going to be viewed? On DVD the graded might come through as looking better!!!

  2. the “ungraded” one looks like what the graded one should. unfortunely the shooter perpetuates the myth that shooting flat buys you something when in fact it buys you less in terms of : gradation, color information, dynamic range. its a LOT harder to grade flat material because it just has less information in it to work with, and thats after the h264 compression has had its way with the material. its most certainly not a RAW equivalent.

  3. Hmmmmm, you sure that’s graded? Looks totally washout to my eye.

    I agree with Steve Oakley, I’ve never understood this shoot flat for more dynamic range with a DSLR. You’re dealing with an 8bit color range to begin with, so, I’ve always tried to shoot as close to my finished look as possible, giving me whatever little dynamic range from that point to work with. Perhaps my method is wrong, so if anyone can explain why I’d want to shoot flat in an 8bit color space, I’m listening.

  4. The problem with this test is grading by nature is quite subjective and very much “in the eye of the beholder”. Personally, I simply don’t love the grading choices. That said, I’ve had wonderful results with the technicolor profile. If nothing else it seems to give me a stop or two of latitude which is a godsend in the lower light realities I face with my limited light kit while shooting interiors.

  5. I agree with Greg and Osborne.
    I also had th efeeling the graded version and the ungraded version were swapped. Irritating I find the fact that there is to littldepth of field so the operator or focus puller losses what should be in focus. To me this is over the top. Maye good in music videos or fashoin shootes but in a narative production it is a waste. It distracted me from the picture I wanted to correct focus all the time. In a narative clip you have lost most of the veiwers. I bit more depth of field by stoppig down may be 2 stops woud have delivered a nicer shot. Grading is not what I think a grading shoud look like.
    I have shot 35 mm film, 16 mm film and all sizes of sensors in video. Dont please yourself please you expected audience.

  6. Ungraded looks better. Graded looks like it was shot through gauze of some kind.

  7. I agree with the everyone else. The ungraded version looks much better. The problem is we don’t know the creators intent. Perhaps he was going for that washed out, dreamy, desaturated vampireish look, I don’t know. All I know is to me the ungraded looks much better.

    I personally don’t think you get more latitude shooting flat. What I do believe is that certain picture styles emphasizes on something more than others. Some may focus on midtones. Others focus on keeping the highlights in a certain zone, etc.

    You often sacrifice something with these though and it’s all about finding what works for you.

    With that being said, I think the ungraded version looks way better and agree with Tom that some shots had too much of a shallow depth of field.

  8. It’s obvious that neither of these are going to look their best in a highly compressed streaming video file. But the ungraded definitely looks better. The graded just looks like someone was having fun with the levels when they worked with it.

    and me personally I get so tired of Shallow depth of field. I think people latched onto it because they can do more of it now. No thanks. I like my videos to look like they ARE in focus. I don’t like my own eyes freaking out on me and wishing the person would focus the damn camera.

  9. I shot a bunch of pseudo-docs for Wells Fargo last summer using the CineStyle profile on my 5D. And while I was ultimately able to get the look I wanted in color correction, I don’t use the profile much anymore. It is hard to expose accurately and confidently on set, unless you really know it well. And it does clip some info off of both the blacks and the highlights. You can certainly see the black clip on the histogram.

    Shane Hurlbut says that when he was trying it out, he felt most comfortable setting his exposure in the Neutral style and then flipping the cam over to CineStyle just before shooting. I don’t think he uses the profile anymore.

    And FWIW, I would be willing to bet that these videos are mislabeled. The one marked Graded looks like the superflat that comes out of the camera. And Ungraded looks like someone at least took the time to run it through a proper S-Curve LUT.

  10. It looks like they are labeled backwards. The top appears to be flat and ungraded. The way the images pop in the lower video and the increased contrast imply that that is the graded version.

  11. Ladies and Gentlemen, hope this will clear things up, the clips are not mislabeled, we went for that washed out, slightly muddy, grainy polaroid look, easy to spot when you stop frames, however harder to notice when watching the whole thing. For example, take a look at 0:02 and you will notice the grain in the dark areas to the right and the milky overlay to the left (esp over the mirror) another clear give away right at the beginning of 0:07, the graded version looses almost all detail on the dashboard and at 0:12 there is pretty much no detail and a horizontal stripe pops up in the in the middle of the frame, another obvious flicker at 0:18 and so on…

    1. This particular blog isn’t really the place to win the artist hearts, as much as I’m interested in the technical aspects of these cameras I don’t think i would focus on it as much as these guys and lose focus on the style and feel of the piece. And don’t listen to the guy that said “Dont please yourself please you expected audience” especially on a personal piece. It’s art man.

  12. I’d love to see a test where somebody shoots a scene using A) cinestyle and B) adjusting the camera to get as close to the desired look as possible. And THEN color grade BOTH of them to get them as close to the final desired look. It’d be interesting to see which method actually has better quality an gets closer to the desired look…

  13. Mike,

    I’m a fan of your grade. That vintage look is really coming into vogue and it’s not always easy to nail. I try to raise the blacks into the 20 IRE range so they are slightly milky, then I slightly desaturate to give the colors a soft muted look, pancaking the highs and miss to some degree. Some people call it the Anthropologie look, but in my line of work it is the future of grading.

    For those NOT shooting in Cinestyle, which profile are you using? Neutral with settings pulled down? Standard?

  14. Mike,

    Did you achieve the soft muted look solely with color correction (raised blacks, etc), or did you apply composited overlays such as light leaks or even other textures to make it more “faded?”

  15. Hey Ethan, I would attribute the overall effect – raised blacks included ~80% to the overlay film ( which I shot at extreme high ISO at night, basically a muddy, black/greenish grain layer with a few light leaks) and slight curve adjustments, that’s it.

  16. Hi Mike, that’s brilliant. I’ve been experimenting with adding composited overlay images to fade out shots, even throwing hazy light leaks over them but had not considered actually shooting my own footage for an overlay.

    Here’s a great example of the look I go for:


    All the best!

  17. Another well done video, Mike! I prefer much more the graded. The non graded looks regular. Cmon guys, this is a fashion video, let’s open our mind and eyes and feel the references and creativity.

    1. Yea well I always thought the washed out look in fashion is ugly and unflattering. Washed out doesn’t automatically equal creative. People tend to look like vampires in lieu of actual people.

      Not saying anything bad about the video, I like it. Just the fact that you think washed out or overly graded equals creative…I disagree.

      It’s all subjective after all. So we aren’t all going to like it.

  18. thanks for the feedback, guys, glad you like it Caue, and N.K, your argument is also valid, grainy and retro doesn’t automatically equal creative, but that can be said for pretty much any direction you take it, stone washed denim just cries for vintage treatment. It’s a mood enhancer, something to draw away reality.

Leave a Comment