Technicolor Cinestyle Recap

So…I guess it’s about time to see what this color profile can do…after 8 months. :(

Well, poor blogging habits aside, I can honestly say that I’m very happy with the Technicolor Cinestyle color profile on my Canon 7D. It really does capture more latitude than any other picture profile I’ve used. Yes, it does look a bit dull while shooting, but when used correctly, it grades beautifully.

Here are a few things to remember when using this color profile:

  1. Cinestyle is NOT RAW. Don’t expect to get a ridiculous amount of flexibility just by installing and using this color profile. Accurate cinematography is still essential for achieving beautiful shots.
  2. Do not over expose your shots. The highlights don’t “roll” off with this profile, they “jump” off. Over exposed areas will be obvious, and impossible to recover. Some tricky grading and composting can make the clipped highlights bearable, but you can’t save data that isn’t there. Cinestyle carries a ton of information in the darker areas of a shot (there will still be some noise). I suggest under exposing rather than clipping, if you can afford it.
  3. Set up your shots with a Standard Profile. This will give you a realistic idea of what you can do with the shot in post. This is something I picked up from the Hurlblog, and it makes complete sense. Monitoring in the Cinestyle profile is super deceiving. It’s easy to feel like you’re lighting is “good enough” when looking at a flat image. So light/expose with a standard profile, then once you’re happy with the shot, switch over to Cinestyle before recording.
  4. Sharpen in Camera (just a little bit). Oh no, I’ve committed the ultimate HDSLR sin! Don’t buy into the whole “no sharpening” rhetoric. Adding a click or two of in-camera sharpening really helps. I also recommend adding an unsharp mask after the grade, but keep it subtle. Too much post production sharpening looks horrible, much worse than a few clicks of in-camera sharpening. The other bonus is faster renders. Mike Seymour of fxguidetv has some good info about in-camera sharpening.
  5. Keep Calm and Carry On! If you’re used to working with the typical high contrast, or even “flattened” DSLR footage, Cinestyle footage will probably still take some getting used to. I found in my first color grade that the footage reacted a bit differently to my typical coloring approach. Technicolor provides a preset LUT (Lookup Table) that takes the hard work out of the primary grade. I don’t use it, and I’m not sure why. I guess I like figuring it out on my own. The point is, don’t get upset if it takes you some time to figure our what you’re doing. Work at it, and you’ll quickly get a feel for the new balance in the color space. Just make sure you test it before you rely on it when it counts!


I had a good time playing around with Cinestyle earlier this year at Yellowstone National Park.


This was my official test, and I learned a lot from it. Most importantly, I learned that it’s awesome. It requires a different set of rules to operate under, but it also renders impressive results.

  1. Ito says:

    I like your ideas. thks

  2. There is evidently a lot to know about this. I suppose you made some nice points in features also.

  3. There’s a reason to lift the blacks – there are more values to store subtle brightness changes than near zero. Also, compression tends to go haywire near zero – look at the blockiness and noise near black in the lifted neutral in your example versus the rather clean looking technicolor. In your example the difference between stops 9 and 10 is (in RGB values) 2 and 4 in neutral, and 18 and 21 in technicolor. Now, if there’s a bit of noise (as there always is), in the neutral profile that noise may record as 1 or 3 in area where general brightness is 2. In other words, the noise gets amplified due to the quantization – brighter parts of noise get three times as high a value as the darkest parts. In Technicolor, similar noise could be randomly between 15 and 20: not as radical a change, the brightest parts of noise have only 25% higher value as the darkest parts.

  4. Nels Chick says:

    Thanks Cassie! That’s great information. I worried that by lifting the blacks so much it would muddy up the compression, but it sounds like it does the opposite, which is a relief.

    Honestly, working with Cinestyle does retain a lot of detail as long as I don’t over expose.

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