Marvel Cine vs Technicolor Cinestyle – A closer look.

Lets just pretend for a moment you are a filmmaker on a budget, and you’ve found a love for the DSLR filmmaking revolution over the past few years.  I know I’ve used my Canon 7D and several other DSLRs for a variety of video shoots, including music videos, short films, and even simple tests.  Despite the RED, Alexa, AF100, and other more professional cameras, filmmakers and videographers are looking for cheaper solutions that can still pack a great visual punch.  Thankfully, in the right hands, the DSLR can do just that.  However, one of the largest drawbacks to using a DSLR, apart from severe rolling shutter, aliasing issues, and moire, is the limited, 8-bit H.264 footage that is captured from the camera.  For Canon DSLRs, PictureStyles are a great way to maximize the way the camera’s sensor reads luminance and helps provide an optimized image for color correction.  In this article, Niki Kizer (our genius colorist at Copper Post) and I will help compare our own results when we tested the Marvel Cine PictureStyle against Canon and Technicolor’s CineStyle.  (Big shout out to Adam Wheeler, who took the time to shoot the test footage for us.)  **NOTE** This article is only written for Canon users.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Nikon, but this particular comparison is only for the Canon Picturestyles.

SIDE BY SIDE  – ORIGINAL PLATES AND SCOPES

SIDEBYSIDE_ORIGINALS

Original Footage Straight from a Canon 5D MKIII

We color grade using Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve color system.  We chose a location that could put an exposure through it’s paces.  We picked an alley way just outside the studio in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona.  This image is ideal for a number of reasons, because we can test a balanced exposure in bright highlights and in deep shadows.  With this we can push and pull our image to see just how much wiggle room there is.  After looking at the “RAW” image of each shot, the scopes don’t lie.   Take a look at the circled regions in the Technicolor side.  The parade gives you a pretty good estimate on just how much information is gathered and in what channels.  This is most apparent in the DARKS of the image.  Looking at the Technicolor shot, the flower bushes on the left contain significantly more information than the same bushes on the Marvel Cine Shot.  So the end result of what we see in the scopes is not a loss of information, but rather information that is more compartmentalized.  There appears to be significantly more room to pull the shadows and highlights to reach a desired image with Technicolor Picturestyle.  Lets take a closer look at what happens when we actually push the colors around.

PUNCHED IN DETAILS

Same Shot, Punched in for details.

Same Shot, Punched in for details.

As you can see in the two images The shadows in Marvel Cine lose quite a bit of detail compared to the same exposure settings using Technicolor CineStyle.  Marvel’s image looks better out of the box, but if you have an image that needs some pulling Technicolor has a greater latitude.  The next image features the same frame, with slight color correction and power windows added to the shadows.  These were corrected to keep some value in the whitest whites and darkest darks, effectively a “Best Light” for each image.

“BEST LIGHT” AND POWER WINDOWS ADDED

Corrected to keep value but still add contrast.  Power Windows added to lift mids.

Corrected to keep value but still add contrast. Power Windows added to lift mids.

The first thing that we needed to do was create power windows to lift the dark points in both exposures.  You can see these “Power Windows” on the bush near the center.  It is highlighted on the right image.  There seemed to be more color flexibility with Technicolor.  The flowers on the right are a good example. We couldn’t lift higher on Marvel here without losing details in the Satellite highlighted on the Marvel side.  We noticed some slight ease of use with color on Technicolor over Marvel probably because the colors weren’t crunched to begin with.  The grain in either was comparably the same.

THE VERDICT

Niki and I both felt that Technicolor gave us better control over colors and better latitude when color correcting.  Marvel contains a bit more contrast, and if exposed correctly, can still give you a beautiful image with little correction.  Whereas Technicolor will look awful unless you take the time and effort to grade it properly.  But then again, that is what it meant to be used for.  Nothing makes up for a great exposure.  This is just one test we did with what we had available at the time and should not be the end all discussion on what picture style is better.  For now.  We like Technicolor for our Canon DSLR post needs.  If you have your own experiences please leave a comment and tell us about it!  Thanks for viewing!

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