Cullen Kelly Clears Up PFE Confusion

Part I: The State of HDR Film Emulation LUTs

Part II: Moving Beyond Traditional Film Print Emulation

Part III: CineD Review of Dehancer Pro

Part IV: Dehancer Print Film Profiles

Part V: Negative and Print Clarified

During an episode of Grade School, a weekly YouTube Live session where he answers questions on all things color grading, Cullen Kelly untangles the confusion surrounding print and negative emulation:

“So, here’s the first thing to understand: when we talk about […] PFE or […] print film emulation […] we’re really talking about negative plus print film emulation, generally speaking. We need to understand that in a traditional film system, the entire thing is a black box that’s designed to work as a unit and that’s kind of one of the challenges […] A traditional film system is designed for the following: it’s designed to take light in and it’s designed to put light back out in the form of a projected print that looks good; that has a naturalistic and pleasing reproduction; it’s a black box. So, the idea of like, one of the [things] I’ve already talked a bunch of today about like, oh wouldn’t it be fun to sort of be able to like cut into that organism and extract like, oh ‘I just want this piece of it but not that piece’ and it is fun and it can be cool”.

Cullen Kelly’s Kodak 2383 PFE LUT (L)/Cullen Kelly’s Kodak 2383 + Dehancer Pro Kodak Vision3 250D (R)

“One of the least sensible axes to cut into that organism is along the axis or the dividing point between a negative and a print because there’s a ton of the behavior of a film negative that is done in preparation for the fact that it’s going to be going to a film print. So, [a] film negative was never designed to be pleasing or […] to produce great visual results in and of itself. Nor was a film print ever designed to be pleasing and produce optimal results in and of itself. It is designed to expect a negative input and a negative is designed to receive a print – a subsequent print transformation. So, that’s the first thing to understand. Now, what we can do, and what is very worthwhile to do is, we can still be modular in the sense that like okay, I’m going to be in a film system and I’m going to have separate modules for emulating negative and emulating print – I’m just simply going to understand that if I don’t marry my negative to a print or if I don’t marry my print to a negative I can’t necessarily expect great results because that’s not what the system I am mimicking or modeling was designed to do with these photons, with this light. So, they kind of marry together. So, that’s kind of principle number one to understand about neg emulation”.

In a later episode of Grade School, Kelly clarifies that in a digital workflow, the negative to print model isn’t obligatory, and when designing what he refers to as his own digital print stocks, there is no need for one transform at the head of the node tree and another one at the tail. This is in contrast to plugins like Dehancer Pro, which have independent operations for the film negative and film positive and DaVinci Resolve’s built-in legacy film look LUTs, which are expecting to be fed a film negative, meaning that you shouldn’t expect optimal results, not to mention that the look won’t travel to HDR.

Part I: The State of HDR Film Emulation LUTs

Part II: Moving Beyond Traditional Film Print Emulation

Part III: CineD Review of Dehancer Pro

Part IV: Dehancer Print Film Profiles

Part V: Negative and Print Clarified

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