Frustrated with No V-Log L for Your GH4? Try Matthew Mosher’s M-Log Cinematic Look Instead

by Karin Gottschalk16 Comments

If like me you have been more than a little frustrated by seeing all these alluring movies shot using beta versions of V-Log L, the Panasonic GH4 version of Panasonic’s true logarithmic photo style, then you may wish to try out DP Matt Mosher’s M-Log photo style.

It is anybody’s guess as to when V-Log L will appear for real, in a future firmware update, fee or paid-for, so M-Log may serve well in the meantime. M-Log was developed as a wide dynamic range look for the Panasonic GH4 for use in projects also employing Canon DSLRs and the Sony A7s.

Matt Mosher tells quite a story of how he came to develop M-Log and I will quote liberally from it here. M-Log, if you have not guessed by now, is named after himself and quite rightly too. It had its genesis in some aerial test footage his production company Sky Bandit Pictures was commissioned to shoot for Panasonic on pre-release Panasonic Lumix GH4s.

And now, over to Matt.

How Matt Mosher Came Up with M-Log, in His Own Words

On March 27 of 2014 Sky Bandit Pictures was approached by Panasonic to shoot an aerial reel/test footage for NAB 2014 with the then-unreleased Panasonic GH4.

We received the camera loaded with version 0.9 firmware. At the time a lot of the buttons didn't even work but thankfully the image setting did. We went through the menus to try to come up with a good flat look close to the Sony S-log look. Having spent a little over a year now with the GH4 I have been able to create a highly compatible wide dynamic range look for the GH4.

Recently, I was hired as the director of photography for an upcoming international documentary directed by Kevin Booth, best known for American Drug War. The documentary is being shot on four different types of cameras from Panasonic GH4s to the Sony A7s.

I shot multiple tests of color charts and transcoded the footage to ProRes 422 HQ. I then made an M-Log-to-Rec.709 LUT prior to color grading in DaVinci Resolve. Resolve had no problem bringing the image in line to match up with the other cameras capable of shooting in log mode.

When equipped with the M-Log look the GH4 does not have the highest dynamic range you can pull out of the camera but M-Log was optimized in both the shadows and highlights to create the best look without skin tones falling apart. Pushed too far the GH4 has very blotchy skin tones.

M-Log takes this into account rather than aiming for the longest possible dynamic range. I found that this was the best possible compromise of high dynamic range for later color grading with the best-looking skin tones in faces.

When using M-log, your exposure needs to be very carefully judged to avoid highlight clipping. You will need to watch for underexposure as well. Underexposure in M-Log is, however, less noisy than some other looks that have been posted in the Internet. But, you will still need to pay attention when grading to pull out color noise and to obtain clean blacks.

My intention in giving this look away is to help others in the same situation. If you are shooting with a mix of cameras and formats you will get good color match and dynamic range also long as those cameras are shooting in log and LUT modes.

Hopefully M-Log will help you get the most out of your Panasonic GH4 prior to the arrival of Panasonic’s V-Log L photo style.

Frustrated with no V-Log L yet for your GH4? Try DoP Matt Mosher’s M-Log cinematic look instead. Click To Tweet
01_cineD_setting

01. Photo Style: Start off with a customized Cinelike D photo style: contrast -2, sharpness -2, noise 0, saturation -4 and tint -1. Set an ISO of 800 via the ISO button.

02_highlights_-2_shadow_0

02. Highlight Shadow: Set highlights at -2 and shadow at 0. You may wish to save this as a Custom setting.

03_pedestal_+10

03. Master Pedestal Level: Set at +10.

04_color_temperature_5000k

04. White Balance via the WB button: For shooting under daylight and daylight-balanced LED lighting, choose a color temperature of 5000 K.

05_color_temperature_3400k

05. White Balance via the WB button: For shooting under tungsten lights and tungsten-balanced LED lights, choose a color temperature of 3400 K.

06_rec_quality

06. Rec Format: Choose Mov. Rec Quality: Set your recording quality at 4K/100M/24p or 23.98p depending on your GH4's regional options.

07_exposure_mode

07. Exposure Mode: Set exposure mode at manual.

08_idynamic

08. Turn i.Dynamic off and i.Resolution off. Ignore the setting of +2 for Master Pedestal level in this screenshot.

09_luminance_level

09. Luminance Level: Always choose luminance levels of 0-255 in-camera and when editing.

10. S/S Gain Operation: Set shutter angle of 180-degrees on your GH4 or 1/50 second if using other cameras in the same shoot.

10. S/S Gain Operation: Set shutter angle of 180-degrees on your GH4 or 1/50 second if using other cameras in the same shoot.

11_zebra_pattern

11. Set zebra patterns at 80% for Zebra 1 and Zebra 2 at 100%. These correspond to IRE levels of 80 and 100 respectively. Choose Zebra 1.

12_peaking_on

12. Peaking and Histogram: Set focus peaking and histogram to on.

13_display_set_up

13. Your camera and its display are now all set up ready for shooting M-Log footage.

Shooting with Sony A7s and Canon DSLRs in the same project?

Plenty of us are using more than one camera on bigger shoots these days and so Matt has kindly supplied suggestions for setting up Sony A7s and Canon DSLRs to produce footage that can easily be edited in the same timeline as your GH4 M-Log footage.

I have transcribed Matt’s notes for cameras by those makers. I have not used a mix of cameras like this yet so apologies if there is any lack of clarity.

Sony A7s Cameras:

  • Format – 1080p 24fps, with no external 4K recorder.
  • Picture styles – Sony S-Log 2 and PP7.
  • Check your color chart to match GH4 with S-Gamut first and then with Rec.709.
  • If you prefer S-Gamut then check for drift in the tint or phase using purple on the color chart.
  • Black level +2.
  • Saturation -2.
  • Detail -2.
  • ISO of 3200 for S-Log 2 and add neutral density (ND) filters as needed.
  • Shutter angle of 180 degrees or shutter speed of 1/50th second.
  • Audio – set audio to scratch track to sync cam in post if no other option is available.

Canon DSLRs:

  • Best ISOs – 160 ISO provides the cleanest image so use that or multiples of 160 such as 320, 640 or 1250 if needed.
  • Ensure that highlights are not clipped in exposure.
  • Use Technicolor’s CineStyle Profile and check your color chart to match the GH4’s output.
  • Recommended ISO limit for the 1DC – 3200.
  • Recommended ISO limit for the 5D Mark III – 1250.
  • Recommended ISO limit for the 7D, 60D and similar – 1600.
  • Shutter angle of 180 degrees or shutter speed of 1/50th second.
  • Picture profile – Technicolor CineStyle with the sharpness reduced by one click.
  • Format – 1080p 24fps, with no external 4K recorder.
  • Choose ALL-I for best quality compression.
  • Do not use highlight priority or auto light optimizer.
  • Lens compensation is acceptable.

Matt Mosher’s Production & Post Set-Up

(cover photo credit: snap from Matt Mosher)


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Comments

  1. garyadcock

    Sorry Matt but I totally disagree with your use of the #FullRange rather than the #SMPTE standard of 16-235. 
    Using the FullRanger settings ( 0-255)  will often result in severe clipping of the highlight whereas the SMPTE curve was established to maintain as much density in the highlights as possible.

  2. DenverEsteban

    I’m new to the world of video (but not photography) – just sayin’. On my GH4 I’ve used both CineD and presets (usually Standard or Portrait) all tweaked just a bit. My take away is most of the time Log profiles just make footage super-flat and then require bringing back the range and contrast in post. This might be useful in super contrasty scenes, but most of the time I just find it to be a set of unnecessary and time-consuming extra steps. I’ve also found increasing the Master Pedestal setting adds noise to shadows. Keeping MP at 0 and you can shoot at up to ISO 1600 and deliver clean very usable footage.

  3. matt mosher DP

    garyadcock  Thats why there is a custom curve in the whites. This is from actual grading and shooting to get the best combo as mentioned above.

  4. Pingback: Lumix GH4 et courbe M-Log

  5. ErikNaso

    I’ve found custom curves with the GH4 smooths skin a lot. I avoid it and master pedestal at +10 just adds noise. I have chosen to keep things simple and just use cinelike D with a little less saturation. Works for me YMMV.

  6. ClaytonMoore1

    Ive seen an official Panasonic slide on that, and the gamma curve on the GH4 after that update is “identical” to that of their Vericam 35 V-Log.  So expect the same tonality and highlight handling as their high end vericam after that update. The Dynamic range will be less then the high end camera of course.  I can’t wait ;-)

  7. joe12south

    garyadcock Incorrect. The highlights are just out of range for your NLE, you can bring them back down in post. http://blog.josephmoore.name/2014/10/29/the-three-most-misunderstood-gh4-settings/

  8. joe12south

    I think that the advice to jack-up the Master Pedestal is misguided. Read this, and test it for yourself: http://blog.josephmoore.name/2014/10/30/the-three-most-misunderstood-gh4-settings-part-2-master-pedestal/

  9. garyadcock

    So, you take the word of a single post,  when the overwhelming evidence points to the opposite conclusion? 

    The advantage of SMPTE vs Full Range exposure capture settings is that SMPTE protects the video content from the inherent clipping that comes with extreme exposures and contrast ranges in your NLE (FCP7 and FCPX are 2 of the worst offenders). Even the hardware Mfg’s like Aja, Avid, BMD and Matrox all default to using the SMPTE range for acquisition. 

    One item left out of Moore’s discussion is that the image is capturing as a 4:2:2 YUV, NOT RGB, in nearly all instances VIDEO is displayed as YUV  and on all but the highest end Professional Monitors, displayed within the REC709 Color space’s definition of “Broadcast Safe” which does not support viewing of Super White and Super Black within the Broadcast Legal spectrum. 

    When working with the 8bit recorded image of the GH4 extra attention has to be paid to controlling highlights due to the clipping found in this sensor.  Using the SMPTE range allows the user approximately additional 2 stops of over exposure latitude when NOT shooting a low contrast, flatly lit subject in the studio as Moore’s has done to “visually explain” the issue to support his claims. 

    Super Black were not initially allowed for broadcast because they would get “bleed” to and from the Sync pulse,carried underneath the lower part of the signal while the Super White, bleeds into the audio part of the broadcast spectrum.

    Supporting my position are the people that create and control the software you are working
    www.xdcam-user.com/2014/03/are-you-screwing-up-your-footage-in-resolve/

  10. joe12south

    garyadcock Ensuring that your signal is broadcast legal is best done at the end of the process, not at the beginning…assuming you are even delivering for broadcast, which most people are not.

    But the argument is moot, because the GH4 captures the same information no mater where you have that setting. It’s metadata, and this is super easy to demonstrate for yourself, as I described.

  11. garyadcock

    Metadata?  What metadata? There is NO metadata recorded in the video signal pathways of the GH4.
    This is NOT a RED camera, and Panasonic is not a company that has supported metadata with their products.  There is no metadata recorded along with the GH4 video formats that can possibly help you in any way, shape or form. 

    The camera captures images as defined by the camera settings. Your advice is lacking in foundation or factual information, as indicated by your comment about the metadata  which cannot get translated into a useable manner within either the MOV or MP4 file formats.  

    joe12south

  12. joe12south

    garyadcock joe12south You’re being pedantic. “Metadata” in the sense that no matter the luminance setting, the GH4 is recording 256 levels of brightness…it’s just a matter of where they are mapped.

  13. garyadcock

    Yes, I am being exact about the accuracy of the signal, it’s necessarily pedantic to correct of the accuracy of some posts.

    Yes with only 256 levels of brightness, why not protect the signal in the manner the SMPTE Spec for density was created to do? 

    joe12south

  14. joe12south

    garyadcock joe12south Because most people aren’t delivering for broadcast, and if you are, you can easily compress to legal values at the time of export.

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