ARRI Alexa is one of the most desired cameras on the planet. Be it a Mini, LF or whatever version, many filmmakers are dreaming of working with such a beast, but unfortunately for many of us that will stay a dream for a while. In the meantime, we can make use of what we have at our disposal, like the small workhorses that the Sony Alpha cameras are.
The magic of logarithmic color spaces, specifically the S-log 2 and S-Log 3 profiles in Sony’s cameras, allow for some quite flexible post-production tweaks and tricks when it comes to modifying colors. A good color grading and the right LUT can get results far better than a less wide gamut color space as we were used on the previous generation of DSLR and similar camcorders.
Now, Harv of Harv Video/Audio Stuff is going to test the Phantom LUT Pack by Joel Famularo that promises to be just the right LUT collection to convert your Sony S-Log in beautiful Alexa-like footage.
What would you say that defines the Alexa Look? Probably the life-like skin tones, generally good looking colors, nice highlight roll-off. That’s not a little to aim to.
There is no doubt that the use of LUTs is an important step in grading an S-Log footage, also if some colorist prefer to have the total control and they tend to work directly from the native footage, but indeed it is easier, or at least less time-consuming to have a handy LUT that gets a straight conversion without giving a particular grade, just the first contrast and saturation adjustment.
The LUT pack in question is made of five LUTs, and that’s not that much, but if these LUTs can deliver what they promise, then we can say that they are surely worth the cost.
The first LUT is called “Natural”, and gives a nice balanced look, warm and pleasant skin tones, no kind of color cast on. Follows the tungsten LUT. As the name implies, it’s specifically designed for use in warm light sìcenarios, due to the light warm cast it bakes inside the image when used.
Next up is the Blue Ice, a cooler cast across the image that calls for a different lighting scheme whereas the Green Eyes has a subtle green cast that is very cinematic. The last one is the most stylized one of the pack as it’s called Utopia. So, these are the LUTs, but are they any good? The question is not easy to answer. They give a distinct and very nice look, that’s for sure.
The highlight roll-off is great, and that is one of the most difficult to achieve without using a LUT. The colors are very good looking, but what is probably the most important aspect of using the pack is the time it saves. Not only it is a single click to apply, but having the warm and cold versions and the green and the magenta ones (utopia) can help in a variety of situations where you may have misjudged your white balance and have a small tint present in the footage.
So the final verdict? That may not be exactly an Alexa looking footage, although it goes very close considering it starts from a Sony Alpha and has gone through a couple of clicks, so it’s up to you if you want to take the risk and try the pack out, it may be worth it.