Zacuto Shootout Revenge 2012 and Baselight

Zacuto Shootout Revenge 2012 and Baselight

Really proves that it's not about the gear - it’s what you do with it.

Been wondering when they would finish this one.  What a stunner, eh?!  It's not the meat, it's the motion - so to speak : )

Seems like the big deal is shooting something that looks good in reality - if you start there, you're halfway home - almost any camera can image it - and the capability of grading now is amazing.  Though to be fair, you would have to have another shootout between the full Baselight system they used and other grading alternatives.  Baselight recently came out with a plugin for FCP7. (!)  I was very excited about that idea until I started to realize that I could live without FCP7.

I watched the Part 1 camera comparisons twice, and had very different notes the second time around.  After seeing the "answers" it became clear that the major deal was, "did the DP light it in a way you like, and did the camera guys shoot it well for that camera, and THEN did they make choices in post that you like".  I thought it was telling that Sony took total control of the F65 footage, yet it wasn't in everybody's top group.

Baselight is a major grading program and the full systems with all the control hardware are very expensive.  But they recently came out with a plugin for FCP7 - I think it's around $1,000 (a fraction of their former cheapest product).  Software only, and it works from WITHIN FCP like any other plugin.  So this was very exciting to a lot of folks to have the capability of Baselight integrated into FCP.  But they didn't come out with it until after FCPX arrived, so they seemed behind the times.

I would only recommend it if you had a real need for doing extensive grading.  I used Apple Color a few times and it was a pain in that you have to export from FCP to it (without effects), grade, then re-import and render.  Clunky.  Baselight would have the advantage of working inside FCP.  But you can do everything most projects need with FCP's color correctors and/or additional plugins.

FCPX's color correction takes some getting used to (though FAR easier than learning Baselight or Color) and is very powerful - great keyer, easy inside/outside color and shape mattes, etc.  I think what FCPX is working toward is a single integrated program that does everything most people need in one piece of software - as opposed to the former model of having a bunch of separate programs that more or less "talk" to each other.

The second program of the Shootout shows some of the stuff people chose to do in post.  Sony sent their own team to shoot with the F65, and they did all of the post themselves, unlike the rest of the group.  I think they were the ONLY ones who did not alter or add to the lgihting setup, though.

I think generally you could say that the higher end cameras and their teams went for looks that showed the fact that the cameras handle a broader range of color and contrast (the lighting range was 14 stops) and as a result look generally somewhat less contrasty and saturated than the others.  Most people are probably attracted to a more contrasty and saturated look - one that "pops", as long as it can still give you some nice skin tones and color rendition.

One of the problems with trying to guess which is which was the fact that they allowed additional lighting and grading - so, for example, while you might assume a "lesser" camera would be unable to show both detail in the woman on the right standing in shadow as well as having the window not blown out - many made adjustments to the window in post.

One of the shockers was how many chose the $800 Panasonic GH2 still camera.  It was one of my choices, too, though I'm not sure how much it had to do with being the second one shown.  The first one, the F3, seemed soft looking in comparison, which caused me to guess that the GH2 was a higher resolution camera.  I thought it might be the Alexa on the first viewing - it seemed to have LOTS of "information" in the image.

I think peoples' guesses and likes would be changed by the order they were shown in.  My top three ended up being the Panasonic, the 7D and the F65 (after watching them through twice).  I could not tell for sure which was the iPhone, though there are telltale signs.  I was surprised that the F3 wasn't in my top 3, but again, if you did the same lighting and post stuff to it as the ones you liked, I'm sure it would look fabulous.