I think that the real separation between a normal photographer and a real cinematographer, is where you want to go as an artist; as an artist I like to give the colors I want to the image, there is a lot to talk about it, the preparation you give to a project, if it is a movie a short or a commercial, there are some of your projects that you will colorize and some others that you won’t, in my country in Mexico most of the times you won’t, because the production company did not sell that part to the client, there is a bad thing going on from all in house because the editors will try to match the colors, but I have experience in this area I was trained in Warner Brothers Studios for a special class of DaVinci-UCLA for three months and I did learn a lot of things about it and I can’t work with a editor that wants to be a colorist, it just doesn’t work, the color corrector has to be a specialist, I have a color corrector business partner, called Benjamin Fernandez (Digital Sprockets), he has been color corrector with a full DaVincci board and his facility has all to end in 4K, I fully trust his work.
When I shot I always shot in RAW or in a setting similar to RAW, (Arri RAW, CinemaMode..), I always put the settings on the camera I use (any camera I use) in minus all the numbers of contrast (-5 Contrast) minus all the set of sharpness (-5 Sharp) and at least minus half the setting of saturation (if it has -5 the max I wil try to go to -3 or -2.5) so when I get to the color correction part I can control the highlights and the blacks, lately I like to underexpose the images one to two stops, I find easier to cerrect the images, this is to really control the colors, contrast, sharpness even the focus in post production.
The thing with the focus: you know before we had negative and we had grain lots of grain and it was beautiful, but we had a lot of times that the focus was not in focus at all but because we had grain, we never knew we were a little bit off, now in these days that we are in 4k, 5k, 6k and soon we will be in 8k and 16k we have this new problem of absolut sharp pictures and because of these we must have focus absolute focus on the images, so because of these there is a lot of things as cinematographers we have to consider, the first one is light, the more light we can have on a set the best way we can play with the T stops and we will have best focus and depends what kind of set we have, I say a big set with lots of people and our mark has to change from the first person to the last person in seconds, what I will do is add light to the set so I can play with my T stops and then I can have more control on the focus points, the less light the more difficult this will be, but we will have at some point a part of the image soft, (when this was film it was way easier to control) now we might have a part of the image a little off mark, and then we will consider getting that soft part in davincci and fixing the problem, but the camera has to be in minus all in sharpness so in post we can fix that problem, if we had it in normal -0+ setting we will not get the problem fix in post and this will be a problem for some.
With highlights and blacks if you dont have that setting contrast in minus all minus five (-5) you will have a lot of problems with the contrast and you will not match the clouds and the backs in the image in post production, you will have at one point of your image a part so black you cant control it and you will get at some point of your image a part so light you’ll never get back to the information of the image, I recomend to always underexpose at least a stop or two, and taking all down the contrast so you’ll have all the information on the images, that is why on my examples you will learn why I did what I did.
By the way in the country I work Mexico, not all production companies work with colorists, they try to skip almost all the time this process, because the end the commercial or production and they don’t have money for that part, or they say that in order to keep money for themselves and I get it because they are well trained to get to the color correctio part, this is why I am doing this and try to explain why is super important the color correction part.