Wed. Jun 3rd, 2020

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Pixel 3 + Filmic Pro + LUTs

5 min read

New to video editing, I came to realize that one could get some descent results with a modern mobile phone, if they used a variety of setup first. In this short little article I’m going to go through the app I used on the Pixel 3, as well as the concept of LUTs.

Filmic Pro

To start with, regardless if you’re using an iPhone or an Android, you’ll want to use a great camera app. As good as the Pixel 3’s built in app is, it doesn’t allow one to control the bandwidth rate, nor the settings of 24P (cinematic film).

This can be achieved with the use of an application on the Google Play and Apple iOS stores. The app is called Filmic Pro.

Filmic Pro allows a person to control all aspects of the video being shot, even upping the bandwidth that the video is shot with. These are settings that the main apps just won’t allow a user to touch.

Settings for Filmic Pro

In watching a video from the Moment lens team, I learned a few tricks on how to setup Filmic Pro for optimum results.

When loading Filmic Pro, click the Settings (Gear) icon. Then click the Resolution button.

In the settings above I picked the highest resolution my phone allows (4k) as well as upping the Bandwidth option to FIMIC Extreme.

Back at the main settings pane, I opened up the Filmic Pro frame rate option:

I set it to 24, which would be 24FPS. That’s what was recommended, but now that I think about it, it might be worth the effort to shoot as much FPS as allowable, then downgrade to 24FPS in post production.

Next up, I left the settings entirely and clicked on the 3 color circles in the bottom left of the app. This loaded the color profile options. First I turned off “Auto White Balance” (if left on it will update with changing scenery and mess with the video).

After that, I clicked on the Middle left tab:

I chose “Flat” as my option for color presets. This desaturates the image quite a bit, but it leaves more options with color grading in post processing.

Up to now, all those settings can now be saved, as they’ll be the regular choices each time.

Shooting Settings

You can shoot with Filmic Pro just as is, but I wanted to make sure I followed the 180 rule on where to set the shutter speed. Here’s a [link] at polarprofilters.com that discusses the 180 rule in more depth than I’ll give it.

Suffice to say, if I’m shooting at 24P (24 fps), I should have a shutter speed of 1/50th. This rule helps minimize jitter or video stutter when moving the camera. As an example, I found that when I shot at 24P, the video wasn’t smooth when a fast moving object was in the shot (such as a car) or I was moving or panning the camera. Instead of a smooth video, I would get a sense of missing frames, a jitter of the object. It’s a very subtle problem, but noticeable non the less. Adjusting the shutter speed does help compensate for this, but it doesn’t remove it entirely. I’m sure there must be a better option.

Color Grading

Once the video has been shot, it can be processed in a video editor. I’m using HitFilm Express for my editing, with a few color grading upgrades.

To start with, my first shot came out dark. I actually didn’t obey the 180 rule, as my lighting wouldn’t allow for it. It was too bright outside, and without a ND filter, I had no option but to keep raise the shutter speed to about 1/250th and adjust the ISO accordingly. My initial attempt came out dark:

The above shot has a properly exposed sky, but the foreground is dark. An ND filter would resolve this, but I’m using a stock Pixel 3 phone, so I have no lens to which to attach a ND filter to.

This is where color grading and post processing comes into play. Color Grading is the work of adjusting the colors to have a more cinematic feel. Hot areas that would normally be white, can be augmented to a slight warmth… shadows can be turned from grey/black to a shade of blue or some other color. A variety of methods can be used in color grading, and I’m certainly no expert. I’d advise people to do their research and study Color Grading on their own. I will mention LUTs as that’s an easy way to get a nice result out of a shot.

HitFilm Express & LUTs

A quick method of color grading is to use a LUT. A LUT is a file that holds settings that determine the color adjustments in a video. Think of it like a preset.

If you search around you’ll find LUTs for sale or even given away for free. Here’s a [link] to some free LUT files.

Once I downloaded my footage, I imported it to Hitfilm and then made a composite shot from the first footage. Here I dragged the LUT color effect to the video layer. The only options available are to point to a LUT file:

I got a nice change of colors, but it was still too dark. Messing around with an effect called Color Cycle, I was able to transform the video to look more like this:

The above image is a combination of a LUT file and Hitfilm’s Color Cycle effect. My specific Color Cycle options are show below:

When I first loaded the Color Cycle, it made it look like some weird solarized effect. By switching the preset on the Cycle menu to “Alpha Gradient,” I got an instant success. What a lucky turn of events. Now the film rendered pretty good.

There is a problem. I picked up some dithering after the post processing. It’s noticeable in the green grass.

Dealing with Jitter or Judder

Here are some ideas on how to control that jitter (judder) in video.

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