18
Feb
09

Marvels’ EX1 and EX3 profile settings for Filmic Look

UPDATED april 26 2010: https://marvelsfilm.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/all-new-sony-ex1-picture-profile-for-cinematic-look/

I have left the article below intact for future reference.

People have asked me to publish my EX1/EX3 profile settings i use for achieving a filmic look.

I have spent many many hours adjusting and experimenting with these settings on both a pure technical ánd perceptual level. Using test charts, waveform monitor and a HD reference monitor, and my eyes…

The following settings are meant to mimic the film look.

Camera settings suggestions (only mentioning settings that differ from the default):

CAMERA SET MENU:

  • Gain Setup: use -3/0/6 as defaults, preferably shooting with 0 where possible,  -3 gives just 90IRE
  • Shutter: Angle : 180  (this is the angle of a filmcamera’s shutter – given 25fps that comes to an exposure of 1/50th)
  • Filcker Reduce: off
  • TLCS: AGC limit: 12, AGC point: F/2.8, A.Sht point: F/5.6 (this all is limiting the iris aperture versus the  automatic gain control, so we don’t get lower dan a F/5.6) – i personally use manual iris.

LCD/FV SET MENU:

  • Marker: Aspect Select: 14:9
  • Zebra: Zebra-1 level: 70 (our over-exposure early-warning-system for the caucasian skin), show both

OTHERS MENU:

  • i.Link I/O: Enable
  • Video Format: HQ 1080/24p or 1080/25p (NTSC or PAL)

Now… let’s get to the serious business. Nicely un-documented by Sony: the Picture Profile

MARVELS FILM PICTURE PROFILE:

  • Matrix: On, High-Sat, Level 0, Phase -5, R-G 75, R-B 0, G-R -18, G-B -23, B-R -27, B-G 13. This gives a beautifully balanced color matrix.
  • White: on, Offset A +2, Offset B +2, Offset ATW +2. This will give you a beatiful warm picture, by elevating the reds a little bit
  • Detail:  On, Level 0, Frequency +65, Crispening 0, Black limiter +75, White limiter +75. This gives a very nice definition without the artificial sharpening artifiacts. Ideal for DOF adapter shooting.
  • Gamma: Cine-1 for rich-contrast situations, Cine-3 for low-contrast situations. Make cine-1 your standard and avoid cine-4 (too noisy in the shadows). Use Joe’s Levels plugin for FCP to enhance contrast in post.
  • Black: -3  or -4 (use the Adobe OnLocation waveform monitor or another soft- or hardware level monitor, then cap the lens, set camera to Gain-0 and you’ll see that only -3 produces the correct black level – lower will crush the blacks. It’s better to control the blacklevel per-scene in post. -4 will give you zero pedestal; giving you a tiny bit more headroom. June 6 2009 update: i nowadays set black level to 0 (zero) and adjust the black level in post with FCP using Joe’s levels plugin. This further helps reducing noise in dark parts of the image!
  • Black gamma: -2. Will help to reduce noise in the blacks.

Shooting tips:

  • The EX1 and EX3 cameras show softening and color-fringing effects due to diffraction-effects in the iris, with lens apertures smaller than F5.6! So, please do not use F stops smaller than 5.6 by using the ND filter when shooting with bright light.
  • If shooting with tungsten lighting, try using blue filters on the lights (don’t apply a 80-a/b filter to the lens – it will cost you 2  F-stops). This will result in lower amplification in the blue channel at time of white-balancing – that will significantly reduce the noise in shadows (blacks) .
  • Switch off the image stabilizer
  • Try to shoot on manual focus if you can; pull the focus-ring of the lens back towards you to click it into full manual focus mode.
  • If you don’t own a Depth Of Field adapter, try to use a longer lens all the time, e.g. zoom in as much as possible and stand back… Shallower depth of field (characterstic of film and cinema lenses) can be achieved by using an aperture of max. F/4 (don’t go lower) and a minimal of 50mm. lens length. It’s just a suggestion, just play around with minimal aperture without Gain (even use ND filter to open the lens if it’s over F/4) and zooming in.
  • You might want to consider buying a Depth Of Field adapter. I advise the Redrock Micro M2 Encore for best performance – the winner of all our lab-tests.
  • Buy a nice matte box (Cokin has an affordable one, RedrockMicro a very good one) and some nice filters (e.g. grading filters are cool, giving dramatic look and/or detail to skies)
  • Install a skyfilter (UV filter) on your lenses, for protection and for filtering that extra bit of UV that will get through the lens in very bright sun-lit conditions.
  • Move the camera like a film camera! Avoid jerky or fast pans. Brusque movements will lead to flickering images – the 24 or 25 fps rolling shutter (simulation) will react just like a film camera would, if you jerk the camera from left to right: show flicker. Use smooth slow pans.
  • One last tip for wannabe-film-cameramen: don’t zoom – film cameras usually don’t have zoomlenses! Move the camera, not the zoom. Make yourself a dolly, or even tracks – use a skateboard, whatever, but try to keep your hands off that zoom handle…

The EX-1 and EX-3 are great cameras, but – alas- they are not film cameras. Instead of the current 8-bit image processing, 10 bits would have made more sense in capturing a film look, e.g. the famous 10-stop dynamic range. Nevertheless, you have a great camera with unparalelled image quality for a below-10K-dollars camera. Adding a DOF adapter like the RedrockMicro M2 Encore improves the filmic quality by enableing the use of 35mm lenses (e.g. standard Nikon lenses) and thus achieving a shallower depth of field.

Cheers!

Martin Beek
Mail me at m.beek@marvelsfilm.com


28 Responses to “Marvels’ EX1 and EX3 profile settings for Filmic Look”


  1. August 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    thanks for the tips. I didn’t even these things were tweakable.

  2. August 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Do you prefer the redrock M2 over the letus and if so why?

  3. October 14, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Hi. Great post. As you suggested that if you dont own a Adapter, you should zoom in as much as you can and stand at a distance to achieve low Depth of field. I want to know if we do this in broad daylight and low light conditions, are there any flaws in using this technique in those conditions.

    Please reply back to this.
    Thanks
    Ishan kapoor

  4. 4 Nitwit
    October 19, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Yes, yes…keep on tweaking in the hope of improving the IQ of the EX. The best “tweak” I ever did was selling my EX3 after doing some comparisons (terrestrial and underwater) with a Canon 5D2!

    I’m pleased that Canon has finally given Sony’s “drip-feed the technology” attitude the kick in the arse it deserves.

    Get rid of the pathetic EX while you still can…there’s something even more remarkable coming from Canon in 2010…

  5. October 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks Martin for the tips.
    You do the heavy testing, and you are generous enough to share with us your results.
    Best
    Maurice

  6. October 27, 2009 at 3:14 am

    do your pic profiles take into consideration the BBC’s recommended settings? I need my pic profile to conform
    cheers

  7. 7 marvelsfilm
    October 27, 2009 at 9:27 am

    To my knowledge there are no BBC recommendations for DSLR cameras. Even worse, the BBC does not accept HD footage shot with DSLRs.
    I have only seen recommended settings for the Sony EX-1/EX-3 – but funny enough, the BBC will make a fuss if you present EX HD material for broadcast.
    It will take at least a year or more before the good old BBC relaxes it’s standards (or waits ’til standards settle). By that time we’ll all have a Red Scarlet…

    Martin

  8. 8 marvelsfilm
    October 27, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Oh, oops, sorry – you were not addressing the Canon 7D DSLR! I apologize…
    But, still, any tweaked profile (gamma, blacks, color matrix) fits under your creative input and is not to judge by the BBC; if you make sure you provide it broadcast safe. FCP has filters for this. But still, the BBC is officially not accepting HD material from Sony EX cameras.

    Martin

  9. November 13, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Hey Martin
    I just finish shooting a short film with the EX-3 profile film look you recommended
    and WOW!!, what a difference. Thank you so much.
    I have a question. I am trying to simulate a timelapse creating light streaks
    from cars moving. My settings were 1920X1080 HQ 24fps. I crancked it to 1frame and altered the shutter. I still couldn’t get the effect.
    What would you recommend, do I have to do it in post??

    Many thanks
    Maurice

  10. 10 marco
    January 1, 2010 at 9:11 am

    thank you! the PP you suggested is really great, I’ve been working so hard to get a good PP, but yours is really brillant. Thank you for sharing!

  11. 11 Kostas
    January 3, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Hi Martin,
    I really loved your profile’s settings but I was wondering,what about if I go straight to the Nanoflash in 4:4:2. Would the settings be the same or maybe it would be better to leave space for the post in FCP?
    Thank you in advance
    Kostas

  12. February 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Hi, Thanks for sharing.

    I have just bought a new pmw-ex1r and want to know everything… but can’t seem to find the sources for getting the absolute best out of this amazing camera.

    Would the filmic look settings be the same except for color temperature… for indoor interviews? I’m working on a doc about WW2… the personal experience of a 90 year old man.

    Is it better to shoot stills at 4k with the ex1r, or with a still camera. 4k is what the Vegas 9 group says is what is needed for movement on a still within the editing program.

    Thank you for all you do.
    Mercedes

  13. 14 marvelsfilm
    June 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Hello Ben.

    With the Cine Gammas, there is no knee. The “knee-like” behaviour is built-in in the S-curve; it rolls highlights off at the top of the curve.
    The knee setting is also grayed out in the EX1/EX3 menu if you select a cine gamma curve.

    Regards,

    Martin Beek

  14. 15 Chanvisal.Bun
    October 1, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Dear,Sir
    I have some problem with Sony EX1 / EX3 when i shoot 25p or 24p it’s flickering so
    do you have solution to reduce a flicker?

    best wish!
    Visal

  15. 16 marvelsfilm
    October 1, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Hello.

    Turn on the Shutter and configure your camera to shoot at 1/50 instead of 180 degrees. So, force the camera’s shutter to shoot at 1/50th of a second.
    Don’t use the flicker filter; never had any good results from it.

    The above counts for shooting 24fps in a 50hz country (e.g. all european countries).
    If you shoot 25fps in a european country and you still experience problems, then please be more precise about the the things that seem to flicker; lights, tvs, tubes, or outdoors too.

    Martin

  16. 17 GaryG2
    January 21, 2011 at 6:24 am

    I find your film look excersize verry interesting. I teach at a local University and have just bought 3 EX3’s for the documentary class.
    I understand that the settings can be saved. Is it possible for you to send a file for the EX3 that you discribed above? I’m really new at this sort of thing and don’t really know where to go for some of these adjustments. It would really be nice to have it. The cameras get reset each time they come back from a shoot (students will be students)As class started this week, I’m a bit behind the curve with this idea. Cameras start going out next week. If I could get the file then we could start out with the film look. I understand if you can’t, just trying to cut a corner and save a couple of hours wandering around the menus.
    g2

  17. 18 marvelsfilm
    January 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Hello G2.

    I am sorry to disappoint you, but i don’t have such a file available for the EX3. I think you are going to have to eat yourself through the menus…

    Martin.

  18. 19 Bob Cole
    October 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    re Joes Filters: the website offers the demo, but not the fully-functioning version. Is there another source?

  19. 20 Fred Elemens
    September 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Just wanted to say thank you for posting this, and all your hard work. I have been using these settings on the EX3 and think they look excellent. I have always detested Sony’s “standard” look and have made many adjustments over the years, but I find yours is far superior. Thank you again for your generosity and pain-staking work!

  20. 21 shiv
    December 6, 2012 at 7:39 am

    thx for the tips

  21. January 1, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    It’s very easy to find out any matter on net as compared to books, as I found this post at this web page.

  22. January 7, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I seriously love your site.. Excellent colors & theme.
    Did you build this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m wanting to create my very own blog and would like to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Kudos!

  23. 24 puyehue200
    October 13, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Ok, so I followed and copy all the settings for the film look but I did not see a big difference, I can see may be a little bit of more color and contrast and I shot almost everything trying to stay with F 5.6 so may be I am doing something wrong because the changes are very minimum and definitely do not look like film.


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