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Cinelog-C DCP 2018 - Quick Start

Transcoding your raw footage to Cinelog-C Colorspace in Adobe After Effects

Setting Up After Effects for Transcoding (recommended method)


This basic guide shoes how to transcode a DNG image sequence as a smaller video file in Cinelog-C colorspace (a log master). This file can then be graded and edited with much lower processor and memory overhead than DNGs require. Cinelog-C in ProRes or DNxHD/HR contains all the dynamic range of the original raw file and, depending on the bit depth of the output codec selected, around the same latitude for color grading .

There are many methods for transcoding footage for single and multiple clips to various codecs and image formats using After Effects, Premier and/or Adobe Media Encoder. We will be posting additional guides/articles looking at other transcoding and codec options plus editing and round-trip color grading in other apps.

This guide may at first seem complicated and lengthy, however many of these steps can be saved as reusable presets or templates. We feel it is important that you familiarize yourself with the following basic procedure to gain a better understanding of how it works before saving After Effects project settings, Output module render settings and Adobe Camera Raw defaults as reusable presets.


    Setting up After Effects

Project Settings panel

Open After Effects and create a new composition with your desired frame rate and size (i.e. 24fps/1920x1080)

Open the Project Settings panel and set Depth to 32 bits per channel (float). Working Space should be set to HDTV (Rec.709). Compensate for Scene-referred profiles should be ticked. Linearize Workspace, Blend colors using 1.0 gamma and Match legacy After Effects QuickTime Gamma Adjustment should be unticked (no tick)*. Other settings should remain at their defaults.

*except when transcoding to OpenEXR for an ACES workflow (detailed in a separate article here)

Click on OK.


Important: The Cinelog Digital Camera Profiles and OpenColorIO configuration are mathematical and calculations are based strictly on a defined standard. The Working Space ICC profile should always be set to HDTV (Rec.709) when using Cinelog to maintain accuracy.





In the main After Effects menu - Click File>Import>File and locate the folder containing your DNG images

Tick the Camera Raw Sequence box and double click on the first DNG. This will open the first DNG in Adobe Camera Raw.



In Adobe Camera Raw

Select the first tab Basic (aperture icon).

ACR will select the Adobe Color profile and your Cinelog profiles will be hidden. to reveal them click button next to Adobe Color (4 white boxes).

Select List view for the moment and open the Profiles sub menu to reveal the Cinelog-C profile.

note: Only the Cinelog-C profile that is relative to the camera used will be shown.

Click the Star next to the profile name to add the profile to favorites for easier selection in future then click on Cinelog-C to select the profile.

The image will now appear with very low contrast and saturation. This is correct.


Your image is now in Cinelog-C wide gamut colorspace. Remember Cinelog-C colorspace is about retaining as much color and dynamic range as possible for rendering to intermediate video and/or color grading. You will always need to apply a lut or color grade for it to be viewed correctly on your monitor but rest assured, that milky image contains a substantial amount of information. 


IMPORTANT - If you cannot load the Cinelog-C profile for your camera please refer to the information in the Cinelog-C DCP installation instructions.


Before exiting Adobe Camera Raw, check each of the main tabs (including all sub-tabs contained within the main tabs) are all set to zero (0) or middle default values and that no curves have been added. This is to ensure the Cinelog math is maintained and that no image adaptive processes are triggered.

Tip: Once you have checked everything you can save this as a new Camera Raw default.


White Balance

An Initial White Balance can be adjusted if needed. We suggest temporarily switching to the Cinelog Rec709 profile for easier viewing.

Tip: Using the white balance picker tool with a proper grey or white reflective target/card in the scene is recommended but white Teflon tape from a hardware store, wrapped a few times around a piece of card, can be used as an effective, neutral white balance target as a cheap alternative. Don't be tempted to use a sheet of white paper as it will almost certainly not be white.

Auto White Balance can be used but we strongly suggest manually re-typing any automatically selected color temperature and tint adjustments (so that the white balance reads as Custom) this avoids any dynamic white balance shifts from image to image.

Sharpening and Noise reduction can safely be used.


Tip: Hold the CTRL key when adjusting sharpening controls to see masking and detail.


Exposure corrections

Although small adjustments can be made to exposure inside ACR it will adversely affect the the carefully calculated Cinelog tone curve and will affect recoverable dynamic range. Please see here for a couple of recommended methods for adjusting exposure in After Effects.

Click OK to import the image sequence into After Effects


Back in After Effects 

Your image sequence will now appear in the Project panel but is not yet on the timeline. First we need to tell After Effects the correct frame rate.

Right+click on the footage in the Project Panel

Select Interpret Footage>Main

Enter the frame rate at which the footage was shot (if different from the project frame rate) and select Pixel Aspect Ratio - Square Pixels (unless footage was shot with an Anamorphic lens, in which case set this to match the lens stretch ratio)

(tip: clicking the More options button will reopen Adobe Camera Raw if you need to make further adjustments to white balance, sharpening or noise reduction)

Click OK

Cinelog-C images will look very flat until graded or processed with a lut

Cinelog-C images will look very flat until graded or processed with a lut

Drag your footage to the composition timeline, adjust scaling/framing if needed.

The image will appear very flat - this is correct.






Render a Cinelog-C Log Master or Add a Look

We recommend rendering your DNG image sequences as a log master (as described below) as it is a more efficient and portable format for grading with but alternatively, you may choose to render from raw to a deliverable format such as H.264 by adding a Cinelog-C Rec709 or Film Look.


Rendering a Cinelog-C log master in After Effects

In this example we will render to Avid DNxHD 4:4:4 but other options will be available depending on your platform (i.e. ProRes on OSX). Always choose a 10bit or 12bit codec option when creating a log master (intermediate) - never use H.264 or other 8bit codecs for log masters as these are delivery codecs and will severely impact color. The minimum bit depth for Cinelog-C is 10bit.


In the main menu select Composition>Add to render queue

In the Render Queue select Output Module  to open the Output module settings dialogue

Select format: Quicktime, tick the Video Output box. Channels should be set to RGB, Depth - Millions of Colors.

Click the Format Options button and select Avid DNxHD Codec with quality slider set to 100

tip: these settings can be saved as a render preset

Select your output location and name your video and click the Render button to render your log master!





You will now have a QuickTime DNxHD video file in Cinelog-C colorspace to work with in any editor you choose. if you wish to edit in After Effects or Premier simply import the new QuickTime video file then Right+click and choose interpret footage. In the Color Management panel tick the Preserve RGB box.


The Cinelog-C video file you just created is also now compatible with all Cinelog-C REC709 and Film Look Luts. It can also be transformed accurately to other log colorspaces if required (not usually necessary but useful for using luts intended for other colorspaces/cameras) or graded using log controls (contrast, pivot and offset) or curves and color wheels. To transform to REC709 or a Cinelog Look simply add an instance of the OCIO plugin and click Display. Select Cinelog-C as the Input Space and any of the Cinelog-C look options as the Output Space.

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