5 (Unexpected) Reasons We Dig FilmConvert
But seeing and doing are two very different things. And in the case of coloring, getting your grade to match your story’s tone is no easy feat.
For us, it used to mean spending a lot of time staring at a monitor in a dark room—a cave, really—to ensure our color was dialed in perfectly for each story. Not fun.
But thanks to our Kiwi pals and partners at FilmConvert, those dreaded long nights are a thing of the past. Now in a very short amount of time our footage looks and feels exactly how we want it to.
It’s no secret what FilmConvert is good at: various legit film stock looks and matching color between different cameras (even drones), all within an intuitive interface that’s very Lightroom-y (great for photographers getting into video).
1. See your grade while you’re shooting.
LUTs (Look-Up-Tables) have become a very popular way to help get a desired look in post in recent years.
But LUTs also have another powerful use: while you’re filming they allow you to “see” how your film actually looks. In other words, no more having to guess how your film will look and feel after grading.
With a LUT applied to your monitor you can see exactly how your shot will look and feel while you’re on set.
Now, historically, making a LUT hasn’t been the easiest process and you’ve often had to rely on buying LUTs online or using the standard industry LUTs, like Rec709. Though these are great solutions for allowing you to see a little more life in the images you’re capturing—especially if you’re filming in LOG—it’s still not ideal for seeing how your final film will look (unless you don’t grade past that initial LUT look).
With FilmConvert, you can easily build your own LUTs.
Take your camera on your location scout, shoot a couple of shots, and then bring them into FilmConvert. After landing on a look that’s right for your film, you can export that color data (LUT) to an SD card, which you can apply to your external monitors on your production days (if your monitors allow for LUTs).
Voila. Now when you're on set filming you can see what your film will look like graded.
Even better, while you’re seeing the LUT applied to your footage, you can still record LOG to your card so that you’re capturing the most amount of detail possible. Then it’s just a matter of using that coloring preset on your final footage in FilmConvert and you’re off to the races.
Curious how to make this happen? We've compiled the steps required to make and apply your own LUT in a handy-dandy PDF, which you can download below.
2. You can speed up your renders.
This one is a little nerdy (sorry), but it’s an awesome unexpected FilmConvert feature that warrants some space here.
As we mentioned at the top of this post, historically, color grading has taken us a lot of time—partially because the process itself was tedious, and partially because the more color work we did, the more rendering became a serious time suck. But no longer.
With FilmConvert, you can use your GPU (or graphics card) for rendering, speeding up the entire process.
Even if you’re doing a heavy grade, you won’t experience any lag or slowness (assuming you’ve got a good GPU to make this work).
3. You can add just grain.
We’re fans of recording the cleanest image possible, making use of our various scopes to ensure a proper exposure. But just because we record clean images doesn’t mean we’re not a fan of a little texture in our final films—in other words, we’re fans of grain.
While we could definitely just bump up our ISO to add “grain” to our images, digital grain—noise—looks more distracting than pleasing.
We turn to FilmConvert when we’re looking to just add a little texture to our footage.
What’s great is this isn’t just limited to their stock emulations, you can apply only grain to your film—even if no other color work is necessary. And being able to control both the size and amount of it allows us to dial in a setting that’s perfect for each story.
One caveat here, we generally denoise our footage initially using Neat Video before applying FilmConvert grain to it. This way we're working with a cleaner initial image and not stacking grain on top of noise.
4. You can get very nuanced.
Speaking of control, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Subtlety goes a long way in color grading.
For example, even the smallest tweak to your shadows can have a big impact on how your audiences will feel when they see that shot.
Generally, quick-color grading software is designed to be just that, quick, which is great for speed, but it often comes with a trade off: control. What that often means is big global changes to achieve a final “look”, without an ability or effective way to adjust the grade in a subtle way.
Though FilmConvert can do big global changes—based on specific film stocks—you can get into the nitty gritty levers and dials to truly hone your image on a granular level (highlights, mids, and shadows).
5. You can grade in DaVinci Resolve.
Ok, another nerdy point. While it’s true, we do love to grade the quick and easy way, there are some projects that need a little extra love and most NLE’s don’t have the functionality for that built in. In those situations we load up our trusty DaVinci Resolve and get to work.
But just because you’re grading in Resolve doesn’t you mean to have to sacrifice what we love about FilmConvert.
There is a plugin so that you can use FilmConvert right in Resolve, all noded up. That means you can get even more finely tuned and apply FC to just specific parts of your footage (hello adding a bit of extra grain to your shadows if you’ve got some blocky stuff happening there).
Now Resolve takes time to master—a lot of time.
So this tip is definitely a little niche, but it’s great to know that if you decide to invest more time in learning color, FilmConvert will grow with you.
6. But wait, there’s more.
The biggest thing we dig about FilmConvert isn’t the software itself (and we dig it a lot). It’s the team behind it.
They’re wonderful people.
It’s rare that you come across a software company where you get such great customer service. If that weren’t enough, they’re also super attentive to the industry itself, adding new camera profiles almost as fast as each new camera hits the shelves.
Just like FilmConvert grows with you on a software level, so too does it grow as you move from camera to camera. Just download your new camera's profile and you're off to the races. Awesome, right?