What the **** is S-Log? A TV Production Managers Guide

Steve Blears Blog

All You Need To Know About S-Log

S Log is a word that’s banded about a lot and causes confusion. Here’s my quick & handy guide to getting your head around it. It involves a little background on colour used in TV and existing gear but will only take a minute to read.

About the Author / Director

Steve Blears

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Steve is a shooting producer director with TV credits for Channel 4, BBC & Sky. He's based in NW UK.


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TV’s Boring Name For Colour – Explained


  • Before we dive in, some boring background!
    TV is broadcast using a limited set of colours. Imagine it as a colour palette with fixed range of green, blue and red.

    This internationally agreed set of TV colours has a dead boring name
    REC 709 (or BT.709)

    Yawn!

Good Old Traditional TV Cameras


Traditional TV cameras shoot in this REC 709 colour palette or “colour space”.

  • Sony PMW 200

  • Pictures or rushes from TV cameras like the Sony PMW 200, Canon XF305, Canon C300 Mk1 can go straight on TV because they shoot in the REC 709 palette.

    In the camera settings REC 709 will be described as “Standard Mode

Cameras That Shoot In “LOG”


The latest TV cameras like the Sony FS7, FS5 and Canon C300 Mk2 are also know as “cine” or “cinema” cameras because they can shoot in two modes.

  • LOG

    Log footage cannot go straight on TV. Pictures come out of the camera looking washed out and milky. They need to be graded in the edit.

  • REC 709 / Standard Mode

    Rushes from Cine cameras shooting in REC 709 can go straight on TV.

Why Bother Shooting In LOG?


Rushes shot in LOG must be graded, they can’t go straight on TV. So why bother?

  • LOG footage captures much more colour data also known as High Dynamic Range. Once graded you’ll have a better picture. Vivid colours and better definition in blacks and whites.

    Did you see a documentary or something on Channel 4 that looked lovely? It was probably shot in Log.

  • Graded LOG Footage

When Should You Shoot In Log?


  • Has your series producer or exec agreed to shoot in Log?
  • Do you have the budget and time in the edit for a grade?
  • Does your PD or Director have experience in shooting LOG?