Editing Blind?

It’s surprising how often I don’t know what I’m looking at. Sometimes a hard drive lands on my console and I need to start cutting. My questions about where the content came from often go unanswered or maybe the answer is just an equally unhelpful “we shot log.”

I don’t really think it’s laziness. People are just so busy, or have moved on to the next project, or are really sectioned off from post. For me, it’s just another interesting and challenging aspect of the projects I work on.

But that doesn’t mean I enjoy editing blind. I can tell if I’m working with RAW files by looking at the file extension and folder structure, and I can look at the footage on screen to see if it’s some sort of log capture. However, if I simply view the footage, I can’t know what LUT or style of log I was expected to use.

Of course, I can go searching for LUTs and make educated guesses. If you dive deep into camera manufacturers’ sites you can usually find something, but unless you know for sure what was planned during production, it’s still a guess.

Sometimes I get lucky and the metadata embedded in the file connects with editing software and displays the footage with the right LUT. Other times the connection appears to work and I’m happily editing only to have the DP ask what happened to the footage— the LUT wasn’t right.

So I seek out tools that can help me learn more about the footage I’m working on. Next time I’ll talk about a tool created by ARRI for extracting useful metadata.