Adjusting Custom Curve for ETTR Footage

Cullen Kelly has contributed a tutorial entitled How to Fix the Dreaded “Video Look” Using DaVinci Resolve to the Insider blog where he shares several tips that we’ve used with great success since following him on his YouTube channel Grade School; but we advise against making an S-Curve as he recommends if you’re exposing to the right.

Photo credit: Cullen Kelly

The overwhelming majority of online tutorials recommend making an S-curve, but they fail to make the crucial distinction between footage that has been underexposed, exposed for middle gray, or overexposed. For ETTR footage, the correct way to shape the curve is to grab it somewhere below the mid-point and gently drag it downward as shown in the first illustration above, without making a shoulder for the highlights. With RAW, it’s possible to reduce the ISO of ETTR footage and add an S-Curve – which is what we’d been doing since picking up the Komodo – but we’ve since returned to leaving the ISO setting alone, dragging the curve downward and further shaping the shadows and highlights with the HDR wheels. In any case, everyone should be doing their own tests to decide what works best for them; and as with everything else, there may be instances where we find that changing ISO and making an S-Curve is preferable for one reason or another!

2 thoughts on “Adjusting Custom Curve for ETTR Footage

Add yours

  1. I’ve had a discussion with Cullen about the fallacy of ETTR with the Komodo. Especially when shootin RAW, it’ very easy to clip highlights. Leaving a half to a full stop of headroom is highly recommended. Cullen doesn’t seem to get that ETTR on a Red is not recommended.

    1. I’ve been shooting ETTR with the Komodo for nearly a year now (as do Carlos Quintero and CVP) and no issues whatsoever. You’re right though – you’ve got to exercise good judgement – and I’m no longer exposing as crazy far to the right as I used to do with the a7s III. In any case, the post is about curves, not any camera in particular.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑