Start recording 10-bit Log for color-managed workflows
Action cameras have long been the bane of many colorists’ existence. 8 bit, highly compressed, poor dynamic range, oversharpening, and aggressive noise reduction makes these common cameras a real pain to color grade.
I’ve been using action cameras for a long time, attaching them to aerobatic FPV drones due to their small size and weight – but the footage was never really usable due to the well-known quality problems with these cameras. I firmly believe these aerobatic drones offer a perspective and movement freedom that no other filmmaking tool does. And as technology has evolved, they have begun to transition from hobby items to serious filmmaking tools.
FPV Drones as a professional filmmaking tool
Major motion pictures and commercials are now using FPV to fly larger cinema cameras, but smaller action cams are getting better and better – and Gopro has recently released what I think is a complete breakthrough in the space: an action camera that can record 10 bit log.
Getting professional workflow results with a $399 GoPro Hero11 Mini
In this Insight – I’ll walk you through setting up the Hero11 for a professional color managed workflow:
- Using beta GoPro Labs firmware
- Designing a Cineon’ish (sort of) custom log curve for use with 10-bit recording
- Uploading those custom settings to the camera using GoPro Labs QR codes.
Once the camera is set up – I’ll walk you through color managing this log footage in DaVinci Resolve. By using color space transforms and contrast controls, we place the GoPro footage into a standard colorspace for color management and subsequent grading.
Mixing Light Premium Members: I’ve attached sample Hero11 Black Mini footage demo’ed in this Insight. To keep things manageable, I’ve transcoded the footage to ProRes – but it is identical to the source GoPro material in every other way.
Key takeaways from this Insight
By the end of this Insight, you should understand:
- The problems with action cameras
- What is FPV? How could it be used in filmmaking?
- Introducing the Hero11’s 10 bit and log capabilities
- How to get and install GoPro Labs firmware
- How to configure the GoPro using a mobile app and QR codes
- Generating a high dynamic range log curve for the Hero11
- Why you need to color manage the primaries/colorspace and EOTF separately
- Adjusting contrast of the EOTF to get it closer to a known space
- Evaluating drone footage for noise, detail, and color gradation
- Noise reduction, sharpening and grain
- Important caveats when it comes to this workflow with Hero11 cameras
External resources mentioned in this Insight
- GoPro HERO11 Black Mini (Small Action Camera) – The camera used in this Insight. Mixing Light Premium members can download sample footage from the ‘Additional Downloads’ section on this page.
- GoPro Labs Information and Download – “GoPro Labs currently supports HERO11/10/9/8/7 Black, HERO11 Black Mini, and HERO5 Session. To access Labs, all you have to do is update your camera to the GoPro Labs firmware. The step-by-step process is outlined at the bottom of this post.”
- GoPro Labs Log Designer – This is the tool featured in this Insight for dialing in your log curve
- ALEXA Log C Curve – Usage in VFX – ARRI white paper. The link is a direct download of the PDF.
Related Mixing Light Insights
- Custom ACES Node Tree Series – Learn how the node tree featured in this Insight is designed and built through this multi-part series.
- Handling Over-Sharpening: How to Soften Footage Without Losing Detail – Drone footage adds tons of production value to projects. But the cameras often suffer from over-sharpening. Get tips for fixing this problem.
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