Working with log footage takes a lot of practice. Without a LUT everything just looks flat and it can be very difficult to get things looking good. Plus, you likely are working off a smaller screen, so extreme details like how noise is being picked up in the darker areas might not be so apparent until you get the footage into your NLE and start pushing the grade.
If you want to know how to get it right every time you should check out this video from Bry Guy Films. It focuses on using S-Log3 on the a7S III, but it should work just fine with other Sony cameras as well.
The crux of this exposure technique is spot metering. If you haven’t checked out alternate metering modes this will be very educational. What spot metering does is fairly obvious, it limits the meter to only checking exposure for a single “spot” in the middle of the frame. Only what is in the frame will affect metering.
What you can do with this is to pull out a gray card and make sure it fills the entire spot. You don’t have to worry about filling the entire frame. This should get you a perfect middle gray exposure for S-Log3, meaning all you have to do is apply a LUT and you are looking at a nice image. There’s obviously still room for additional grading, but it is the best starting point. Just make sure you are nailing white balance too.
In low-light conditions you will likely benefit from overexposing by about 2 stops as this will help ensure a less noisy image when you are done grading. Depending on your camera you will likely want to know and use your dual native ISO points to get things as clean as possible.
When using overexposed footage you will want to handle it appropriately during grading to ensure a good image. In this demo, the focus is on Final Cut Pro X.
The first thing for most people will be to apply a LUT to bring back a bit of contrast and color. Applied above the LUT should be a Color Board or similar tool for adjusting exposure. Now you can start making adjustments. Get it looking where you want it. You can also add other adjustments if you want, such as a Color Curve.
Once you apply you main edits you can change from a basic LUT to a creative LUT if you choose. Basically, the tip is to get the footage looking about right, and then take it through your creative workflow.
How do you normally handle your log footage?
[source: Bry Guy Films]
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