How to Achieve ARRI-Like Colors with Sony S-Log3 Footage

Fabled ARRI colors are what many cinematographers dream to reach with their footage. Unfortunately, unless you have some serious cash or are fortunate enough to work on serious productions, you won’t be working with an ARRI ALECA cinema camera to get those colors. It is still possible with the right grading to come very close – if not downright match – ARRI colors with other camera systems.

Commercial filmmaker Jacques Crafford has his own tips for getting ARRI-like colors using a Sony camera and the S-Log3 picture profile. A lot of this comes to down nailing skintones and creating those “cinematic” colors and it should work with most any camera that uses S-Log3 from the a7S III and up.

As with many quick grading solutions today, this workflow makes use of some custom-built LUTs that take S-Log3 and transform it into a near-finished look that matches ARRI colors. The LUTs recommended are the PHANTOM LUTs from Joel Famularo. When you start there the rest of the tuning is a lot easier.

Using DaVinci Resolve, step one is to bring in your S-Log3 footage. Jacques uses a7S III, FX3, and FX6 footage here and the FX9 should work similarly.

Jacques thinks a lot of this comes down to white balance – and the ideal is nailing it in camera. Opening up a clip in the Color page you will leave the first node empty and then apply the LUT on a new node. Another serial node past that will be your white balance and exposure correction. Using the basic color controls and scopes you should balance the color on the footage.

For balancing skin the best option is creating a mask and isolating an area on its own node. For this masking out the skin and then pulling up the vectorscope with its skintone indicator will be the most helpful. Making your small tweak to color to nail the skintones is incredibly helpful.

Taking things even further you’ll want to use the qualifier. On another serial node you can use the qualifier to select a particular part of the image. This allows you to select the highlights, just a single color, or more. This way you can make adjustments without impacting the entire image. Combining this with a mask and tracking can get you even better control over certain areas. For skintones, Jacques recommends boosting the midtones a tad to make them pop.

Doing this same thing again with another clip shows how big a difference just balancing the color and exposure can make. Spending time getting that right also makes the use of LUTs a lot easier. 

Learn your scopes. Practice grading and the different tools. And make sure to nail white balance in-camera whenever possible.

[source: Jacques Crafford]

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  • Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio (B&H, Amazon)

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