If you've ever shot footage on a DJI Mavic or GoPro using the automatic color settings, you know that footage often comes out hyper saturated. Similarly, other camera's automatic settings boost contrast and colors, which makes the video look nice if you're not planning on color correcting it, but makes it very hard to adjust those elements when you take your video into post production color correction.
As a shooter who often color corrects in my post production workflow, I've begun shooting all my video with a flat color profile, to get the best results when color grading. This also allows me to set the tone of my footage in a way that I wouldn't be able to if I was using the camera's automatic color and contrast settings.
Why shoot using a flat color profile?
- A flat color profile (also known as a "log" setting) is a low contrast, high dynamic range and flat color profile that provides a solid base for color grading, allowing you to manipulate the color and sharpness yourself, rather than fighting with the colors your camera has already applied to footage.
- Shooting flat footage means that your camera retains more information in the image, instead of throwing away a bunch of color information it thinks it doesn't need when it applies its automatic color settings.
- For those familiar with .RAW photos that allow for complex color correction, flat video profiles are the video equivalent.
How do I apply a flat color profile on my cameras?
Some cameras come pre-loaded with a flat color profile. Each camera has it's own name for these profiles, so I've put together a basic list for several popular cameras.
It is important to note that in addition to setting the flat color profile of your camera, you should also lock your white balance settings based on what kind of light you're shooting in. If you leave your white balance on auto, your colors will shift in the middle of shots, which you want to avoid!
DJI Mavic Pro
- The Mavic has two different flat profiles, one called D-Log and another called D-Cinelike
- The D-Log and D-Cinelike profiles compress as much of the image it can into a color range that retains the highlights, shadows and any other color information that would otherwise be lost when shooting standard or automatic picture profiles.
To set your color profile to D-Log or D-Cinelink:
- Set your Mavic to video mode
- Go into camera settings
- In the Color section, select D-Log or D-Cinelink
GoPro Hero4 and Hero5
- The flat profile that GoPro uses is called Protune, and it specializes in separating out the blacks and whites in footage, which allows you to maintain a large dynamic range and full control over color in post.
To turn on Protune on your GoPro:
- Navigate to the settings menu
- Cycle through the settings until you reach Protune
- Set your white balance based on the lighting you're shooting in
- Choose the Flat color profile
Sony A7ii (and other Sony cameras that support S-Log)
- Sony has several flat color profiles, including S-Log2, S-Log3, Cine2, and Cine4. One should always use the camera's native ISO when shooting these profiles, which in this case is 3200, and should be paired with a preset white balance.
- The S-Log profiles contain the most dynamic range, but is quite difficult to color grade if you're a beginner. S-Log3 contains more shadow information than S-Log2.
- Cine2 and Cine4 are slightly easier to grade, as they only require slight color grading to get them looking great.
How to turn on flat profiles:
- In your menu, navigate to the Camera icon in the top menu bar
- From the Camera menu, navigate to menu 6
- Select Picture Profile 7 (this is S-Log2)
For more information on shooting S-Log2, and adjusting and creating custom Picture Profiles, I found this article really helpful.
Kat is the Community Manager at GNARBOX. Talk to her about Sony cameras, adventure photography and video editing with the GNARBOX! You can see her personal work at instagram.com/kat.greenbaum and vimeo.com/kgreenbaum.