One of the most useful innovations in camera technology is the capability to shoot with a logarithmic picture profile, also known as log. The problem, however, is that log footage can be difficult to shoot and grade. This causes many to forgo the benefits and avoid log shooting entirely. That’s why, in this article, we want to demystify the process of shooting and editing in log, with a particular focus on working with Panasonic’s log picture profile, V-Log.
The benefits of log
Why bother shooting in a log picture profile like V-Log? Although it looks muted with less color saturation and flattened dynamics, log profiles actually allow for more dynamic range, giving you more detail in the shadows and highlights. A logarithmic function curve is used when processing the sensor data to preserve more dynamic range and tonality from the image sensor. If you were to shoot in a typical picture profile, then shoot the same thing in V-Log, you would see the added dynamics and color control that log gives you once the footage was properly color graded.
There are some challenges to shooting in log profiles, however. The flat look of V-Log makes it difficult to properly expose your image. To fix this, you can apply a look-up table, or LUT, to make the flat and desaturated log footage look more like the standard picture profiles we’re used to seeing. Fortunately, cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and GH5s offer a view assist that lets you preview your V-Log footage with a LUT applied while shooting. That way, you can shoot as you normally would while still getting the benefits V-Log.
One trick to shooting V-Log without LUT preview is to slightly overexpose your image. This may seem like bad advice, but overexposing log footage by about one-stop when shooting will minimize noise in the shadows. Because of the added dynamic range, you will be able to pull down the highlights to recover the overexposed areas during post-production.
In the edit suite
Speaking of post-production, editing V-Log footage really isn’t any different from editing other footage, with one exception: the color correction stage. This is when a LUT comes in to play. A LUT takes the input color and luminance values and transforms those into a desired color and luminance output. Use a LUT to get your flat V-Log footage to look like standard footage while retaining the increased dynamic range.
Most video editing software will allow you to apply a LUT, and anyone can make a LUT. Because of this, there are a lot of them out there, good and bad. However, Panasonic took the guessing out of the equation with a free 3D LUT for transforming V-Log to V-709. You can find that LUT here.
Now that you have the proper LUT for your V-Log footage, you just need to apply it using the color correction tools in your editing software. The LUT should be the first thing you apply to your log footage before you start in on color correction and grading. All other color adjustments should be applied after the LUT.
Once you’ve applied the LUT, that’s it — it’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems.
The workflow is worth it
Shooting in a log profile like V-Log will add steps to the workflow, but you will gain dynamic range, better tonality and more leeway when color grading. The next time you’re shooting, try out a log picture profile and experience what it can do for your image. To learn more about V-Log and the cameras that offer it visit, www.panasonic.com.