In-demand UK cinematographer James Miller has been making and using LUTs in his stills photography and cinematography for longer than many of us have been shooting LUTless or not.
Mr Miller’s previous LUT sets, commercially available under the brand name DeLUTs since early 2015, have proven popular amongst those seeking heavily stylized looks LUTs with the London and counties-named Sets 1,2, 3 and 4 popping up in TV commercials, online movies and corporate movie projects in the UK and elsewhere.
I tried out and reviewed DeLUTs Set 4 earlier and found the looks it contains to be inspirational. They helped me think and see differently, to push my grading into more heavily styled territory than I am used to with more conventional analog-film emulating LUTs.
Now Mr Miller has released his special LUTs set for use with Panasonic’s controversial though long-awaited V-Log L logarithmic photo style function that comes with the Panasonic AG-DVX200 fixed lens camcorder, as well as the V-Log L firmware upgrade option available for the incredibly popular Panasonic Lumix GH4 hybrid movie/stills camera.
On its V-Log L upgrade page, Panasonic states that the upgrade “gives the AG-GH4U a V-Log L function that is equivalent to the V-Log and curve characteristics provided on the VariCam Series”. The high-end VariCam35 cinema camera version of V-Log has 14+ stops of dynamic range whereas V-Log L – does the L stands for “lite”, one asks – has 12 stops.
V-Log L on the GH4 has proven to be something of a challenge for early adopters, many of whom have not shot logarithmic before.
The biggest perceived benefit of a log photo style is that it may be more forgiving of scenes containing longer tonal ranges.
The biggest downside of log photo styles for those unaccustomed to grading them is that it can take a bit more work than grading conventional Rec. 709 footage. Until, that is, one has got enough practice in and have bent your footage well out of shape in grading in order to understand what log footage is capable of.
Learning to grade log or Rec. 709 footage benefits from starting off with a LUT that will create a look close to what you have visualized. Then I suggest playing with your grading software’s controls to see how far you can push it.
Many doing exactly that have discovered one of V-Log L’s inherent limitations – green/magenta macro-blocking in the lower values. Footage shot at higher ISOs than V-Log L’s base ISO of 400 – other GH4 photo styles have a base ISO of 200 – can also show more noise than desired.
As V-Log L early adopters have discovered, however, applying classic expose-to-the-right (ETTR) principles to log footage can make a big difference to noise and gradability. It can also work a treat with Rec. 709 footage. The Panasonic GH cameras discussions going on at the DVXUser fora are worth a look for some deep insights into shooting V-Log L and other photo styles.
Neither V-Log L nor LUTs are universal panaceas. Getting the best out of LUTs and photo styles demands plenty of trial, error and sometimes going down blind alleys.
James Miller’s DELUTS Panasonic GH4/R VLOG-L set provides enough looks and variations to guide you out of those potential dead-ends. As I discovered, if one LUT reveals macro-blocking or excessive noise then another in the same colorway will probably limit if not eliminate either or both.
DeLUTs’ V-Log L set is the first time Mr Miller has used a more technical naming scheme than the names of counties or suburbs. It is a mixture of letters and numbers, and the LUTs in each same-letter subset are related. If one LUT in, say, the monochrome II subset shows too much macro-blocking, then the next down the II subset list may render perfectly.
The DELUTS Panasonic GH4/R VLOG-L set is not only for V-Log L shooters. It contains utility LUTs to convert Rec. 709 footage to a flattened log-style look to which you can apply any of the same looks that work a treat on actual V-Log L footage. That’s a boon for projects shot in both photo styles.
Now over 200 Panasonic GH4/R VLOG-L DELUTS
In this pack there are around 200 LUTs or Looks really as they re all stylised in some way. I'm sorry there are so many.
On previous luts where there were fewer numbers I previewed a log and lut image. I have put this into a vimeo film this time as really what you need to do is shoot a few scene setups, install the luts and go through them. If you have Adobe Premiere CC 2015 then you will have the most speedy way of going through them.
They are not named like previous luts as they needed to be grouped, mostly for my own benefits. Maybe I will name a few key luts on an update. For PC users you need to follow the instructions supplied on the download, you too can then benefit from the speed preview function of ‘Lumetri Color’. Please remember if you have other sets loaded for fast preview and install these they will go in alphabetical order. Premiere remembers them as a list number not a name so be careful if working mid project and it may jump look style.
As in other sets I have also included a few luts that do a reverse to LOG like curve on CineLike V and CineLike D. Its not 100% as you are trying to reverse a baked in look from the camera but it really helps in getting a different style look from existing footage. I've had great results with this.
Read full article at “DELUTS GH4/R VLOG-L – 200 Film Luts”
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Panasonic GH4 VLOG-L / DELUTS
(cover photo credit: snap from Karin Gottschalk)