@PingSpike & all, here is a summary of my workflow… there are a lot more learned folks on here, however my mantra is “Shoot Right First & Make it Easy to Edit”
Below workflow is great for all video recording and editing, but even more important in low light, very bright light, and night stuff… it’s not the only way ! I am sorry for the War and Peace version, I may have got carried away.
First things first: Shoot right to get the best source. YMMV, but here is what I do, don’t attack me
I normally shoot at 4K 24fps or 4K 25fps, 1/50 Shutter Speed, ISO 100, 200 (or ISO Auto on a good day)
Get your Settings right first and THEN put your ND filter on.
- Try and avoid shooting in Auto, Choose Pro
- Set recording to DLOG-M or D-Cinelike (Normal is great too, I use it often, but then you don’t need all of this tutorial) D-Log etc. holds more data as it is 10-bit, as opposed to Normal = 8-bit colour
- ISO 100 or 200 (but Auto is normally just dandy, but don’t let it get too high = noisy)
- Shutter speed must be double your frame rate, (180 degree rule) this gives pleasing motion blur and prevents flicker and stutter
e.g. S/S 50 & 25 FPS, 60 & 30, 120 & 60, and so on… 24 and 25 is considered ideal cinematic FPS (note, you’ll need 1/50 S/S for 24 FPS In PAL mode)
Remember: ND filters reduce light getting to your camera sensor. For Video it is necessary when you want to shoot using cinematic frame rates (24/25) and even higher, so that you can shoot at lower shutter speeds to give a natural motion blur…
In Auto settings, the camera will see bright sun, and bump up the shutter speed to reduce the light and avoid blow-outs etc… but the result will often be choppy video, and over-expose
In Pro Settings, using the 180 degree rule, you’re applying a shutter speed to equal double the frame rate… and that usually means more light to the sensor = potential for over-exposure and blowouts etc.
For Video, A set of 8/16/32/64 is generally going to be OK (for photo you can go higher for blurry waves, and water etc.)
Your main aim is to get your Metering/EV (M.M = Manual Metering on your screen) as close to ‘0’ Zero as possible.
This shows a high Exposure - it means no ND or it is too ‘light’ an ND. Highlights will blow out
Go the next ND up, so if you tried 8, got to 16 etc. until you get as close to EV ‘0’ as you can
Of course if you put an ND on that is too dark… it will under-expose, and if you are in Auto ISO, it’s going to bump that up and get noisy video… get it right and you have less to do in post editing
Now the Editing Part.
I use Final Cut Pro, but sometimes DaVinci Resolve, and even Movie Studio Premium on Windows, anything that can correct colour and apply a LUT is what you need.
Download the LUT for your drone: In this case the Air 3 LUT is on DJI’s site. (You can also get other creative LUT’s from Ground Control and many others)
(A LUT is simply a preconfigured Colour adjustment file, and means a Look Up Table; some convert HDR to SD, i.e. REC BT.2020 to REC.709, and some are purely Creative LUTS to give you a ‘Look’… Note, you can manually change colour just like you want and save it as your own LUT, boom!)
Import your footage and put it into the Timeline… and importantly:
- Colour CORRECT First, then
- Colour GRADE.
Your DLOG footage will look bland and ‘uncontrasty’
- Colour Correction (Adjust Saturation, Contrast, Whitebalance)
- In my case I only needed to adjust the Brightness/Contrast by using LUMA settings.
- Click View and Choose ‘Video Scopes’ from drop down
You should see some scopes at left of your video player, then click View above that and chose the Single layout in this case (you can do more and use RGB Parades and Vector Scopes, that for another time). If you don’t see LUMA graph, click the little graph icon, and choose LUMA.
Note how the white LUMA graph shows a gap above zero and below 77 at the top in this case… we want to fix that (A Colour Correction Step)
The Colour Icon at top right should be selected, and you can now adjust colour, I prefer Colour Wheels
Our Aim is to get the LUMA graph so that the bottom white bits JUST touch the 0 line (Pure Black), and the top bit JUST touch the 100 Line (Pure White)… Using your Colour Wheels
- Highlights Wheel drag right pointer until the first Graph lines at the top just touch the 100 Line.
- Shadows Wheel drag right pointer until the fist Graph lines at the bottom touch the 0 Line.
- You can mess with Midtones later only if you have to
- Now you are exposing the full brightness your video has stored in it, so that the next step capitalises on as much brightness information as possible). See the difference with the Red Markers !
The video already looks a little better
Note: Now you can click View above video and untick Video Scopes to get rid of the LUMA Graph, more space to work with now
Now we colour Grade to give it a Look… in this case using the DJI Air 3 Standard LUT.
Highlight the clip and go to your effects at bottom right, choose Color group, and then click Custom LUT… either double-click it, or Drag-and-Drop it to your Clip to apply it… the Video won’t change colour yet
Now we go to the Inspector Window at right and click the little drop down arrow
You’ll see something like this (a list of installed LUT’s and an option to search for a new one on your PC)… If you have not installed your LUT yet, click Choose Custom LUT. Find it and click Open… and you have now applied your LUT!
If already installed it’ll be in your available list.
Here it is applied to your clip. Remember, you could just apply a LUT, and avoid any colour correction, but you’re not going to get the best out of your clips
Boom, you’re a winner. Now if you need to, go to your colour wheels and tweak Mid-Tones (Don’t touch Highlights and Shadows.)
This video shows a before and after using these simple techniques