How does GoPro's new CineStyle profile color correct? I took some footage I shot on my GoPro HD HERO2 using the ProTune setting to find out just that.
I was looking for a few things with this test. How much artifacting does the GoPro have using ProTune at 35 Mbps, how does sharpening affect the image, how much play would I have color correcting and how easy would putting the extra work to grade the footage be?
- Video artifacting from the MP4 compression is a little bit noticeable for what I used the camera for here, but not too bad. Even at the 35Mbps bitrate the GoPro HD HERO2 uses when ProTune is turned on, it's just not enough to get rid of video compression artifacts. I took a few shots and blew them up to 350% to show some of the artifacting. Color correcting and sharpening the footage exaggerates the issue. Keep in mind most of these shots are still or have very slow movement in them. Shooting that way minimizes compression problems. To see some really noticeable artifacting in the video with ProTune turned on, you need to have a lot of movement. (My last GoPro comparison video shows artifacting problems pretty well with the motion test, so I didn't repeat a fast motion test here.) The link to that video's at the bottom of this description. Video compression artifacting seems to be a little worse on the GoPro HD HERO2 with ProTune turned on than it is on my Canon XA10 (which shoots at 24Mbps in AVCHD). Most likely it's because MP4 is generally a heavily compressed format, but the video compression from the GoPro isn't anything that's bad enough to bother me.
- The sweet spot I found for sharpening in Premiere Pro for this footage was 20%. Any more than that and the grain in the footage really stood out. Any less and the image was noticeably soft. I was playing with different levels of sharpening, and I liked how sharp the image was at 40%, but the amount of grain in the image made it unusable. Plugins for sharpening might be better than the filters included in Premiere, but Neat Video just kept crashing Premiere when I tried to apply it. (Keep that in mind, if you're thinking about using that plugin with your ProTune footage.) I also tried a Tiffin plugin to get rid of grain (when sharpening was set to 40% in Premiere), but I wasn't happy with the results. So in the end, 20% sharpening was the magic number for me.
Once I got past sharpening, grading was pretty straight forward. I had to spend a bit more time looking at my contrast than usual to get a more natural image, but I was able to play around with the footage a lot, since CineStyle is pretty flat. I included a few different looks I came up with in this video to give some ideas about what can be done with ProTune footage. Overall, using ProTune adds a bit of time to my regular workflow, but there is a bit more play in what you can get out of CineStyle, so if you're big into color correction, make sure to use it. The biggest difference, though, is the higher bitrate ProTune uses, which is noticeably better than the GoPro's original profile when it comes to video artifacts.
Check out the video and share your thoughts!
If you want to see the difference between ProTune and no ProTune, I compared that in a video from the GoPro HD HERO2 last year. You can see that video here: vimeo.com/51161712/
Filmed on Feb 9th, 2013.