A complete S-Log2 grading walkthrough in Adobe Speedgrade

In this lesson we’ll learn how to grade S-Log2 material.

What you need to know before grading

Grading S-Log2 is pretty easy and fun. The footage holds up well. I have not had any banding or posterization.

There are two ways to grade S-Log2 footage:

  • Use LUTs
  • Grade from scratch

Here’s my honest opinion: Use the latter system in grading. Applying LUTs/presets/effects without knowing what they’re doing is why most people get crappy banding and noise. Some important notes:

  • Always grade in a 32-bit float environment. Speedgrade, Resolve, After Effects, etc., all provide a 32-bit environment.
  • There is an official S-Log2 to Rec. 709 LUT by Sony, but it applies to the gamut of the Sony F55 camera, and doesn’t look all that good with A7s footage. I would NEVER use it.
  • All other LUTs are crap for A7s S-Log2 footage. Use the Cine profiles instead.

Overall, the footage from the Sony A7s in XAVC S-Log2 is very filmic.

Adobe Speedgrade Walkthrough

Follow my lead as I grade S-Log2 material in Adobe Speedgrade. You can use the same principles in any color grading software. I’ve made it as simple as possible so everyone can follow along:

Just in case you missed it, here’s the final graded Annakotta (Elephant Fort) sequence:

Download Video

In the next lesson you’ll find a printable flowchart on how to handle XAVC S!

FAQs

These are important topics raised by subscribers that shed more light on this lesson.

Q. What’s wrong with 3rd-party LUTs?

A. Third party LUTs are popular because they let you deliver good quality work faster to your clients. This is important in the video industry, where there is cut-throat competition. This is perfectly acceptable, and even desirable. However, anybody can do this – your work will look like everyone else’s.

And what happens when you buy a newer camera? You are still dependent on more LUTs and shortcuts. What if you learn to grade, and create your own LUTs? A little effort today will give you the confidence to use any camera in the future. It’s like using a calculator for a math exam – we weren’t allowed to use them, but I kept thinking: What’s the problem? People in the real world use them, don’t they? But of course, today, I get it – I can do the math in my head faster than it takes to reach out for a calculator and punch in the numbers.

Q. Can you use LUTs with picture profiles other than S-Log2?

A. You don’t want to!

When using one of the cine profiles, the look is already ‘baked in’. If you don’t like the look, you have two choices:

  • Tweak the profile as I’ve explained here, or
  • Shoot S-Log2 and use a LUT. This way, you can have more DR and better noise characteristics.

There’s a serious level of math going on in 3D LUTs, so here’s a rule of thumb – when working with LUTs, always opt for the highest “data-option”. In the case of the A7s, the data is the same, but S-Log2 and 800% offer the flattest profiles with the most information.

Click on the link below to the next lesson or head over to the main menu (above). If you need help with something, feel free to send me an email. I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.