Cinestyle is cooler than you think

But that’s not really the point of this post.

Technicolour’s Cinestyle is a colour profile I installed onto my camera around a year ago now. I did it more out of interest, but soon fell in love with it. Essentially, it compresses the dynamic range of the camera, giving you more detail in shadows while avoiding the blowing out of highlighted areas. The first film of mine I shot using Cinestyle was The Noodle Man. It took me a while to accustom myself to using this profile. For starters, I had to ensure I was slightly underexposing my shots rather than over-exposing them, as Cinestyle compensates for shadows, rather than highlights. It’s obvious in some of the earlier shooting I completed for The Noodle Man, for example this scene of Saurav Kundu and Denis Franklin walking:

Screenshot 2015-08-21 20.37.59 Overexposed highlights visible on corners of the white shirts.

Soon enough, I grasped the idea of having to underexpose my footage by about 2 stops. What resulted was a smoother image, retaining much more detail in those darker areas.Screenshot 2015-08-21 20.38.49

Underexposing by 2 stops seemed to work best.

For my next production, After Tracy, I had a better understanding of how to use Cinestyle to its full potential. I think the hardest part about using this profile is shooting your footage in Cinestyle to begin with. Being such a flat image, it sometimes makes it hard to focus accurately on the built-in 3″ monitor the 600D comes with. Straight out of the camera, it sort of makes you wanna bawl your eyes out, but really this is the point of a flat image. It leaves so much room for creative manipulation in post-production. Below is a side by side comparison of what this shot looked like before and after grading.

Screenshot 2015-08-21 21_Fostor Flat, but full of detail.

Contrast and grade added in post production, still with more detail than standard profile shots.

Okay so, I liked Cinestyle by now. In fact, I liked it a lot. In just about every production I have been involved in since, I have used the Cinestyle profile (except where the director/other dp’s have insisted against it). I can see where there is a need for Cinestyle (ahem ahem, nearly everywhere), but I can also see how for certain productions it may not aesthetically work for the artistic choices implied by the director. I am yet to find any significant downsides to using Cinestyle, though since it appears to use selective ISO as a way of restoring detail, there may be slightly more noise in darker areas as compared to footage shot in a standard profile. This is only a minor downside, as the additional noise is only visible when viewing on high resolution monitors, and hardly noticeable once a grade is applied. In saying all this, I feel strongly towards using Cinestyle where I can, because if I decide to crush the blacks or highlights at a later date, it’s easier to crush flat footage than it is scouring for detail in a compressed shot.

That’s enough of me for now. Viva la Cinestyle.

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