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Calibration LUTs through Cineform’s First Light

This summer’s turning out to be busier than I’d anticipated. I’m on a flight headed to LA right now for a week of classes at the International Colorist Academy at Roush Media in Burbank. And I have the doc to finish grading right when I get back. Right before I left though, yesterday in fact, I was talking with Matt Jeppsen (DP) regarding the music video project I’m grading and acting as post supervisor on. Due to a strong desire for a smooth and easy post session and consideration of the project, I’ve recommended and entirely Cineform workflow. More on some of this later.

But one of the challenges is our extensive use of Cineform’s First Light (a RedCine-X/Photoshop RAW)-like primary coloring tool that stores all the data as editable side car files. The challenge isn’t so much the program which is very easy to use, complete, and fast but rather being able to get color critical monitoring out of it for myself. I’m also working with the DP of Anthill Films out of Vancouver, BC on their current mountain bike action film. First Light and Cineform play a critical role in this project due to the cameras being used and the efficiency of the workflow through post. And in the event I come on later and do the color and finishing on the project, it’s even more important that I have color critical monitoring out of First Light

My color suite is built around a LUT calibrated plasma utilizing the Blackmagic Designs Decklink Extreme 3D and HDLinkPro 3D. Currently output from First Light to the BMD card isn’t possible but one of the new features is secondary monitor playout. So while I can play my monitor and it is dialed in, like good plasmas it’s over-gamut (especially in the greens) and can’t be relied upon unless I have that 3D LUT to bring things back in to spec. So, I fell asleep the other night thinking about how to make this work when it hit me.

First Light has about 21 LUTs included for various things- namely for film-printing options like various Kodak film stock and a few other creative looks. You can export these to the Iridas .look format so I asked David at Cineform if First Light could also take the Iridas .look format if I were to create my own LUTs. His answer was “Yes, absolutely. But I’m not sure how they import on Mac.” No worries, I can test it out.

So I ran a profile via Light Illusion CMS on my monitor. And because I have so many wonderful conversion options within my CMS (color management system), I  converted my profile to an Iridas 64 .look file. In First Light, I couldn’t get the file in at all via drag and drop, or by placing the file in First Light’s LUT folder. Solution? Right-click “Open With” and First Light is the only and default option. I did that and the LUT showed right up using the file name as the LUT name in the drop-down list. So I ran another check on the monitor with the correct color patches and I’m accurate! Very pleased.

So while this isn’t really necessary per se, it will save me a step and a node in Resolve tweaking whatever primary grade we come up with in First Light. Matt and Kendal are going to be covering the production and post-process in-depth over at FreshDV and I’ll likely blog about some of the setups and tech we’re using to facilitate a fast, and efficient post production process with the most flexibility and limited headache over here. I suppose they may cross-post some of my stuff when I write it, but for now I hope some of what we’re doing is helpful to you moving forward when considering the huge array of options out there for post.

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©2019 by Jay Friesen.

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