The most benefits of Recording RAW, LOG or LUTs
during Color Grading in the Filming Business..

Many Videographers here in Uganda have been asking me the importance and difference between recording "RAW" , LOG, or LUTs and usually all use Davinci Resolve as there tool for color grading. Now if you have never had of the terms RAW, LOG, LUTs, here is what you should know:

RAW IMAGES:

When we talk of recording RAW off the Camera what we mean is a file format that gives us the siginal straight off the camera sensor.
In traditional cameras exposure, white balance, saturation adjustments these are automatically applied during recording to give us an immediately pleasing picture, just like the images you shoot on your smart phone, It looks good on a media play back. But the whole point in a RAW or LOG workflow is not to do that, the whole point is to give us as much Latitude in Post-Production, allowing us to mould the image the way we wnat it to look.

RAW doesn't burn-in basic elements of an image that is to say: -
Exposure, White balance, ISO, e.t.c......
Infact you choose your negatives + your chemical birth in Post-Production.

One of the best ways to describe the RAW workflow is to think of a film negative and film stocks.
Within a family of film stocks there are different negatives you can choose for different looks and once you record on to that film stock you can change the chemicals used to develop the film to change the way that negative finally looks.

Now if color correcting a RAW or LOG image is the digital version of a chemical birth, then chosing your camera is the same as chosing a family of film stocks. Because Kodak has it's looks, Fuji has a different look, So this works the same with RAW cameras.
Now if color correcting a RAW or LOG image is the digital version of a chemical birth, then chosing your camera is the same as chosing a family of film stocks.
Because Kodak has it's looks, Fuji has a different look, So this works the same with RAW cameras.
Davinci Resolve automatically senses what flavour of RAW it's playing, it automatically knows the difference between Arri Raw Vs Red Raw.


What is a LOG?

Now LOG trys to achieve the same end results as RAW but it's very different, Starting with Resolve,.....
Davinci Resolve has no idea what flavour of LOG you are using that's because LOG will be saved to any standard Codec that is to say: - ProRess - Uncompressed - DNXHD.

You have to be knowing the image was recorded to LOG and then it's up to you to tell Resolve how specifically you want to un-log the image unlike RAW.
Now the good side since LOG relys on standard Codecs and it's not recording that Raw sensor data, the images are much easier to play back in real-time even on all consumer Laptops.


Simillarities between RAW and LOG images:

- Both don't give us out-of-the box pretty images meaning that there designed to go through the color correction process.
- They both assume you are going to go back to the camera originals that you are not going to be working off the set of low resolution proxies, because by working off the proxies you loose access to all the details you where trying to retain by shooting Raw or Log.
- Both also benefits from these proxies having their contrast and saturation being expanded, color corrected when sent to the editorial, So the editor isn't looking at flat images that have no details and difficult to see and judge.
- Both benefits from the proxies being named identical to the Raw & Log originals which makes super easy re-linking when we get to the color correction stage.


What are Look-Up-Tables ( LUTS )

There are two types of LUTs: - Technical LUTs. - Creative LUTs. LUTs can be applied to both Raw recorded & LOG recorde images, but for color correction we consider LUTs optional.

Technical LUTs:

Now Technical LUTs are mainly designed to take you from one color space to another color or from a very particular image to another particular image like moving from the high definition color space to the digital cinema color space that's the technical look.

Creative LUTs:

These are LUTs that are used to expand out the contrast of an image.
So on their websites for there cameras Arri provides 12 different LUTs for their cameras and you wonder which one is right?
all of them, or non of them? It just depends on how your image was exposed and the look you're trying to achieve, that's why i call these LUTs creative LUTs.

By the way some camera manufacturers even don't provide LUTs they think if you're shooting LOG or RAW, then you have the talent on how to make them look good.
The most important thing about LUTs is that they are not a one-button auto correction, they still require the intentional about using them and deciding do we even want to use them.

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