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Color Grading Inspire 2 X5S ProRes footage

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Hey All,

I'm writing because I'm a bit frustrated with the coloring process and lack of information out there on grading footage from DJI and I could use some help...

The footage I filmed and I'm working with was shot with my Inspire 2, X5S sensor, DJI 15mm f/1.7 in ProRes 422 HQ.

Both the image and the information represented by the scopes coming out of the h.264 file look considerably better than the ProRes file, and although I'm not a pro color grader, I'm intermediate, and I just can't seem to bring it back to life even though in my understanding the data should be present. I'll attach a couple screenshots.

Does anyone have any workflow recommendations for these settings or know of any LUTs to tweak ProRes? I'm thinking about purchasing a CinemaDNG license to get more latitude and better results, but that's what I purchased the ProRes license for (that, and the ability to edit and deliver quickly in that format), so I'm worried it won't be worth the extra $1K.

I'm noticing the following inferior traits, currently, that I'm not sure how to correct and don't show up in their h.264 counterparts:
  • Barrel Distortion
  • Less range in colors (oranges are not as present and yellows appear exaggerated).
  • Much more noise
I presume DJI has their sensor/color science pretty figured out and applies these corrections to their compressed files. However, I purchased the Inspire 2 for a reason- to get higher quality video to work with. It's troublesome to me that I can't get these higher quality files to look as good as the compressed ones. I'm hoping it's just my lack of expertise or workflow awareness with these particular files.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

John
 

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  • x5s_prores422hq_ungraded.jpg
    x5s_prores422hq_ungraded.jpg
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rmb

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Man, color me confused. I am a color grader (Davinci Resolve) and I think that the Prores which looks like you shot it in D-Cinelike looks head and shoulders better than the h264 which id low-res, no-detail mush
 
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Hey All,

I'm writing because I'm a bit frustrated with the coloring process and lack of information out there on grading footage from DJI and I could use some help...

The footage I filmed and I'm working with was shot with my Inspire 2, X5S sensor, DJI 15mm f/1.7 in ProRes 422 HQ.

Both the image and the information represented by the scopes coming out of the h.264 file look considerably better than the ProRes file, and although I'm not a pro color grader, I'm intermediate, and I just can't seem to bring it back to life even though in my understanding the data should be present. I'll attach a couple screenshots.

Does anyone have any workflow recommendations for these settings or know of any LUTs to tweak ProRes? I'm thinking about purchasing a CinemaDNG license to get more latitude and better results, but that's what I purchased the ProRes license for (that, and the ability to edit and deliver quickly in that format), so I'm worried it won't be worth the extra $1K.

I'm noticing the following inferior traits, currently, that I'm not sure how to correct and don't show up in their h.264 counterparts:
  • Barrel Distortion
  • Less range in colors (oranges are not as present and yellows appear exaggerated).
  • Much more noise
I presume DJI has their sensor/color science pretty figured out and applies these corrections to their compressed files. However, I purchased the Inspire 2 for a reason- to get higher quality video to work with. It's troublesome to me that I can't get these higher quality files to look as good as the compressed ones. I'm hoping it's just my lack of expertise or workflow awareness with these particular files.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

John
The compressed footage looks like it was shot in "Vivid" mode (or some DJI equivalent to that). I always shoot LOG (D-Log for DJI). I don't own an Inspire 2, so I can only assume that you have color space options for the compressed footage. If you do NOT have compressed footage color space options, then I guess you're stuck. I agree with RMB. That compressed screen shot looks horrid.

D
 
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Hey All,

I'm writing because I'm a bit frustrated with the coloring process and lack of information out there on grading footage from DJI and I could use some help...

The footage I filmed and I'm working with was shot with my Inspire 2, X5S sensor, DJI 15mm f/1.7 in ProRes 422 HQ.

Both the image and the information represented by the scopes coming out of the h.264 file look considerably better than the ProRes file, and although I'm not a pro color grader, I'm intermediate, and I just can't seem to bring it back to life even though in my understanding the data should be present. I'll attach a couple screenshots.

Does anyone have any workflow recommendations for these settings or know of any LUTs to tweak ProRes? I'm thinking about purchasing a CinemaDNG license to get more latitude and better results, but that's what I purchased the ProRes license for (that, and the ability to edit and deliver quickly in that format), so I'm worried it won't be worth the extra $1K.

I'm noticing the following inferior traits, currently, that I'm not sure how to correct and don't show up in their h.264 counterparts:
  • Barrel Distortion
  • Less range in colors (oranges are not as present and yellows appear exaggerated).
  • Much more noise
I presume DJI has their sensor/color science pretty figured out and applies these corrections to their compressed files. However, I purchased the Inspire 2 for a reason- to get higher quality video to work with. It's troublesome to me that I can't get these higher quality files to look as good as the compressed ones. I'm hoping it's just my lack of expertise or workflow awareness with these particular files.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

John
I completely agree with an earlier comment that the ungraded ProRes is the best of the three. I might bring down the midtones slightly but just my style.

More noise is expected and while it might seem counterproductive it is actually a good thing. This is because when you have more noise than the h.264 you are getting a less processed image which is what many of us want. Instead of relying on the in camera noise reduction you can do your own noise reduction in post where you have control over it rather than just letting the camera do whatever which means you have the potential to dig out additional dynamic range and high frequency detail that would otherwise be lost. Noise at the sensor level doesn’t change due to the codec you use.

The barrel distortion is unfortunately something you’ll also have to fix yourself in post. Comes with having a less processed image.

As far as color goes, that is going to depend on the colorspace you are using and how you process the colors in post. As someone mentioned it looks like you are shooting in D-Cinelike? If you stick with ProRes then consider using D-log and EI mode for the largest colorspace short of raw.

I personally shoot cDNG. I just find it’s easier to work with which I know is a funny thing to say but it is more flexible if you don’t mind the storage requirements. I also like that the issue of colorspace and DJI’s lack of Aces support is a non-issue with raw. I really dislike the use of LUTs for colorspace transforms which is avoided with raw. cDNG won’t solve your noise or distortion issues though.

I use DaVinci Resolve Studio and use color Management. I generally use DaVinci wide gamut these days but Aces still has its place in some situations.
 
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Man, color me confused. I am a color grader (Davinci Resolve) and I think that the Prores which looks like you shot it in D-Cinelike looks head and shoulders better than the h264 which id low-res, no-detail mush
Thanks for the reply.

I do usually shoot in D-Cinelike when I’m shooting ProRes, because I’m coming from years of filming with a pretty dialed in Phantom 4 Pro, which, whenever I shot d-log with it, I had horrible results bringing it back to life. D-cinelike, I found, gave me the truest, nicest cinematic start on the color grade that I only needed to tweak slightly in post.

Perhaps the X5S/Inspire 2 system/sensor doesn’t provide the same kind of image?

I understand that the h.264 doesn’t look how I would want it to in the end either- overly contrasted, crunchy, etc. And it does look to be on some sort of “vivid” setting (although I don’t think it is, will double check).

However, despite the vibrancy, it managed to preserve oranges in the trees, which I haven’t been able to easily pull back, and the teals in the sky in my attempted graded version look more like a stylistic choice rather than a natural rendition. The scopes on my graded version are much more hazy and spread out vs this h.264, which to me is usually a sign of stretching the data when it isn’t there- like when I look at compressed Sony footage vs. my Komodo .R3D files.

I presume some of the limitation might be in Lumetri Color, and my intermediate grading abilities. If I were to share this clip with you, would you be willing to take a few minutes to put a quick grade on it and share? It would help me understand if it’s settings or myself creating the limitations.

Thanks, John
 
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The compressed footage looks like it was shot in "Vivid" mode (or some DJI equivalent to that). I always shoot LOG (D-Log for DJI). I don't own an Inspire 2, so I can only assume that you have color space options for the compressed footage. If you do NOT have compressed footage color space options, then I guess you're stuck. I agree with RMB. That compressed screen shot looks horrid.

D
Thanks for chiming in.

It does appear to be on some sort of (overly) vivid setting. I wouldn’t have selected that if I saw the option, though, so I wonder if that option is even there? I will say the trees were incredibly vivid in real life during this time- it was peak leaf-changing aspen season, which is pretty impressive, so the vibrancy didn’t appear too unnatural at first glance, because of what I saw.

Nevertheless, do you know if it’s possible to adjust the compressed output while simultaneously selecting different SSD recording options?

In regard to D-Log with ProRes, have you had good results bringing this footage back to life? I have struggled with D-Log in the past, even with the LUT they provided for the Phamtom 4 Pro. What’s your workflow?

Thanks,
John
 
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I completely agree with an earlier comment that the ungraded ProRes is the best of the three. I might bring down the midtones slightly but just my style.

More noise is expected and while it might seem counterproductive it is actually a good thing. This is because when you have more noise than the h.264 you are getting a less processed image which is what many of us want. Instead of relying on the in camera noise reduction you can do your own noise reduction in post where you have control over it rather than just letting the camera do whatever which means you have the potential to dig out additional dynamic range and high frequency detail that would otherwise be lost. Noise at the sensor level doesn’t change due to the codec you use.

The barrel distortion is unfortunately something you’ll also have to fix yourself in post. Comes with having a less processed image.

As far as color goes, that is going to depend on the colorspace you are using and how you process the colors in post. As someone mentioned it looks like you are shooting in D-Cinelike? If you stick with ProRes then consider using D-log and EI mode for the largest colorspace short of raw.

I personally shoot cDNG. I just find it’s easier to work with which I know is a funny thing to say but it is more flexible if you don’t mind the storage requirements. I also like that the issue of colorspace and DJI’s lack of Aces support is a non-issue with raw. I really dislike the use of LUTs for colorspace transforms which is avoided with raw. cDNG won’t solve your noise or distortion issues though.

I use DaVinci Resolve Studio and use color Management. I generally use DaVinci wide gamut these days but Aces still has its place in some situations.
I appreciate the detailed feedback- thanks.

I personally find the ungraded ProRes version to be overly soft (almost looks out of focus in motion, although I know it isn’t), and looks like it was made slightly opaque or has a gray filter over it at 30%. I like slightly muted blacks and a bit less contrast too in my footage, but this just looks flat to me. It’s all personal though, of course.

I’m unfamiliar with Aces but I get the drift. Switching to cDNG might be the best option (I knew I should have picked them both up for the discounted price while I had the chance). Forgive the ignorance, but does one still have the option to choose d-log, cinelike, etc when filming cDNG or is it then a moot point because of it being raw?

More and more I’m recognizing the glaring need to head into Resolve, and I also recognize it’s color superiority, but it feels so backwards to me and has been hard to make the time to learn it. Would you be able to answer this nagging question in my mind- is it true that Resolve works in 10-bit color space vs Premiere working in 8-bit, effectively cutting your color off at the knees when grading/exporting? As a bit of a perfectionist, that makes me want to switch already.

Either way, what’s your typical grading process with D-log footage in Resolve? As in, the order of nodes, and ingest settings? (I can never find what I’m looking for in Resolve and that’s honestly the biggest hangup is the interface).

Thanks again,
John
 
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I appreciate the detailed feedback- thanks.

I personally find the ungraded ProRes version to be overly soft (almost looks out of focus in motion, although I know it isn’t), and looks like it was made slightly opaque or has a gray filter over it at 30%. I like slightly muted blacks and a bit less contrast too in my footage, but this just looks flat to me. It’s all personal though, of course.
Sharpening is also part of image processing. The ProRes image won’t look as sharp out of camera because there isn’t as much sharpening added in camera. This is also desirable because you have control over it. If you were expecting the ProRes to look better than the h.264 straight out of camera I think you may have misunderstood the purpose of using and intermediate codec to record. That’s not the purpose. The purpose is to give you a less processed, less compressed image so there’s more information to work with and more control in post.

I’m unfamiliar with Aces but I get the drift. Switching to cDNG might be the best option (I knew I should have picked them both up for the discounted price while I had the chance). Forgive the ignorance, but does one still have the option to choose d-log, cinelike, etc when filming cDNG or is it then a moot point because of it being raw?
It’s moot because it’s raw. No in camera processing is added. You can still choose which style you want added to the simultaneous h.264 recording though.
More and more I’m recognizing the glaring need to head into Resolve, and I also recognize it’s color superiority, but it feels so backwards to me and has been hard to make the time to learn it. Would you be able to answer this nagging question in my mind- is it true that Resolve works in 10-bit color space vs Premiere working in 8-bit, effectively cutting your color off at the knees when grading/exporting? As a bit of a perfectionist, that makes me want to switch already.
I don’t believe premier works in 8 bit by default. You’d have to change it in the project settings. Should be 10 bit by default and if it’s not you can change it.
Either way, what’s your typical grading process with D-log footage in Resolve? As in, the order of nodes, and ingest settings? (I can never find what I’m looking for in Resolve and that’s honestly the biggest hangup is the interface).

Thanks again,
John
Like I said I typically work with cDNG. In resolve project settings I turn on Color Management and set my timeline colorspace to DaVinci Wide Gamut and set my output colorspace to rec. 709 1.2.

Color Management means Resolve will handle colorspace transforms without you needing to do anything or set up anything. It allows you to just start working and let the program handle colorspace. Typically you’d have to tell Resolve what colorspace and gamma your footage is filmed in (like S-log 3 or Canon Log etc.) but when you have raw, resolve will automatically convert the raw to the working colorspace and back for monitoring and export. because it’s raw and doesn’t have a colorspace assigned yet.

For a working colorspace I like DaVinci Wide gamut because it has a really gradual falloff in the highlights and the shadows( harder to clip blacks and highlights.) ACES has almost infinite fall off in the highlights but the shadow fall off is much steeper.

In Resolve nodes are basically the same thing as layers. They just run left to right rather than down to up. There are more complex things you can do with nodes but until then just think of them as layers.

In both Resolve and Premier when you work with raw you will get a raw color panel. This is the non-distructive raw processing such as what Adobe Camera Raw is for still photos. This gives you an extra layer of control and anything you do in the raw panel can be undone in the regular color part of the editor.

If you go with cDNG you’ll definitely want to switch to Resolve. Premier does not do a good job of rendering previews with raw footage so scrubbing through your clips will be frustrating no matter the compute power you have. It exports raw footage pretty well oddly enough. Resolve on the other hand handles RAW very well even with modest hardware. It’s still tougher on hardware than ProRes but it’s manageable.
 
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Oh one other thing. ProRes 422 HQ is recorded in 10 bit on the I2. ProRes 4444 is 12 bit. Raw is always 12 bit.

There are fewer recording options with ProRes 4444 than raw but check out recording ProRes 4444 and see if that changes anything for you
 

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