Getting the Sony HLG BT.2020 Profile 10 footage to work in Adobe Premiere
I'm a commercial photographer and videographer. I shoot for a wide range of clients and use multiple techniques to capture the imagery I need. I have a shoot coming up for a motorsport client in a really sunny location and want to use a shallow depth of field as part of the style for the film. I'm not a fan of the s-log profiles as I need to use strong ND filters to be able to use a wide open aperture and as the starting point for ISO is 800 it would end up looking really grainy. I wanted to use the Sony HLG2 Profile 10 so I did a test on a client shoot on Monday where I could control the set up with my LED light panels and the Atomos Ninja V with it's HLG preview feature to monitor and correct the exposure. It went well or so I thought. To my horror when I got back and transcoded the footage into ProRes as this works really smoothly on my Mac Pro tower then put the footage onto my Adobe Premiere timeline it was really harsh looking with all the highlights blown out and the blacks crushed. I was really confused as I'd been really careful to make sure I exposed it correctly. I looked around inside Premiere and online for reference to see if I'd missed a setting, I found the new HDR feature but even turning this on didn't help as it not for the Sony HLG footage.
I had shot the footage on my Sony A7Riii with Profile 10 set to BT.2020 and only found out after I'd done this that Premiere doesn't do BT.2020!! It's a Rec.709 timeline and was clipping the gamut to fit the Rec.709 timeline. I knew from my photography work that I would need to map the color not clip the color to another profile (Rec.709) to hopefully get the highlights back and open up the blacks.
On doing a lot of research online and finding no information for this mapping/transcoding I was about to give up and cry but then I came across a post on a forum for an older bit of software by Sony called Catalyst Browse, which was actually updated last month (who knew!) but I'd never heard of it. They have a free version and a suite of software. I tried the free software, which can open up any Sony camera film clips, browse to the files on the card, open up the clip you want to work on, click on the 'Adjust Color' button at the bottom of the screen and change the 'Source settings' and 'Color correction' with a full suite of scopes. Then hit the export button at the top and change the 'Transcode settings' to Rec.709 output color space, in ProRes 422 HQ 1080 and boom you're done!
This screen is the Sony Catalyst Browse software clearly showing the harsh clipping of BT.2020 on a Benq PV270 calibrated monitor. It looked the same in Adobe Premiere.
Here I've adjusted the colors with a 50/50 split screen to check as you go. I've dropped the exposure 2 stops, added a slight contrast curve to open up the midtones and highlights with a bit of punch in the shadows. If you can see on the before and after scopes on the left the highlights and shadows are now within 0%-100%. You can also see top right the input source is Rec.2020/HLG and my working space is Rec.709 and the preview is Rec.709.
Next you click on the Export button at the top and change the Trancoding Settings to "Same as preview (Rec.709), ProRes, ProRes 422 HQ 1920x1080.
When the footage goes back into Premiere it looks perfect. This software only does 4k to 1080 for free, the suite version which you pay for which does 4k to 4k.
And to show you the actual difference on the test footage. This first clip is the Sony footage without any transcoding, it's place on an Adobe Premiere timeline and saved out.
This clip is showing a 50/50 split with the ungraded Sony HLG2 BT.2020 on the left, and the ungraded but transcoded into Rec.709 footage on the right.
And finally here is the clip transcoded from the Sony HLG2 BT.2020 into Rec.709.
Now in hindsight I could have change the Profile 10 to Rec.709 when I did the filming to start with and not had this issue but I didn't and I'm sure many others wouldn't know it wouldn't work correctly on an Adobe Premiere timeline as BT.2020 and probably thought they had got it wrong as I did. Hopefully this article will help some others solve the problem. And at least the footage is now in BT.2020 for future proof use with all the extra data intact ready use when BT.2020 become the standard.
Sony Creative Software