Shoot Flat For Great Color – The DSLR Solution

Having grown up with video cameras in the analog age, I prefer digital cameras with a similar form factor and haven’t been a big fan of DSLRs since their inception. Recently, a project with a quick turnaround time had me looking at these tools for more than just still shooting and personal work.

National brand Invisalign selected my team to shoot a series of 6 candid interviews with less than a week for pre-production. Our original plan was to use 2 F3s or an F3 and F5 – pretty standard equipment that fit the bill for our client initially.

As we scrambled to pull the location, casting and other details together, budget became an issue and we found ourselves back at the equipment drawing board. When our 2-day shoot suddenly became 1-day, our plans for the cameras and lighting had to be adjusted quickly.  We wound up opting for Sony, Canon and Nikon DSLRs. The Canon was on a slider and the Sony and Nikon lived side by side for wide shots and close ups.  This was a combination I never imagined putting together, but logistics dictated it.  The results yielded very different looks and we knew color correction would be critical.

The day of the Invisalign shoot was cold and overcast in New York with very occasional sun, but the good news was that we wouldn’t have to deal with high contrast situations. This made our very small lighting package more workable.  We knew our colorist, Chris Rohlfs, would face the unavoidable and inherent DSLR issues of higher compression rates, artifacts and reduced dynamic range. In order to provide him with material he could grade properly and quickly, we shot Flat to ensure flexibility in the black range and keep more of the data in that area. This also kept the saturation levels low. High contrast, heavily saturated images are difficult to correct even with DaVinci Resolve in the workflow.

Ultimately, our shooting style was successful and Chris was able to work his magic, creating terrific color the client was happy with. Check out the results:

About Michael Huss
Based in New York City, Michael Huss brings more than 25 years’ experience to every project. Over the course of his career, he has seen technology explode and he uses advancements to craft unique solutions. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America as well as the International Cinematographers Guild and has been recognized by his peers with numerous awards for work.

Michael’s extensive portfolio includes commercials, corporate video productions, music videos, short films, documentaries, marketing programs, episodic television and narrative films.

Work With Michael