This blog is designed to detail Arri Looks – what they are, how they are used and most importantly how they can benefit your creative workflow as a cinematographer when used in conjunction with SIM group services.
What is an Arri look?
To start, here’s an edited breakdown from the Arri site FAQs:
- ARRI Look Files enable DPs to view images on set that convey their full creative intentions. A look file can be previewed on monitors or recorded into the image; either way, all the metadata that define the look travel embedded in the media into postproduction.
- Look files are different from look-up tables (LUTs). In essence, ARRI Look Files are a purely creative tool, used within the ALEXA camera itself.
- They might be created by the colorist, or by the DP, and allow monitors on the set to give a good idea of what the final look for each scene might be.
But what does that mean in our working world?
- An Arri Look file is comparable to a CDL – it uses simple metadata to track and display color values within a range of software as well the camera itself.
- It allows you to create a simple creative look using your primary RGB values, Saturation, Contrast and Luma
- Arri Looks are intended to be loaded into your camera to use as a monitoring tool – and to be passed along to your Lab for application to your dailies renders.
- Arri Looks should only be used as a non-destructive display tool – and not burned into your master Camera Files. The option is there – so do watch out for this.
How do we create Arri Looks?
Arri Looks can be created using different methods. Using test or actual footage relevant to the project in question, we always recommend using actual lighting examples for set ups to ensure the most accurate translation.
Arri Look Generator
- The look generator is a simple to use software that can be downloaded from the Arri site.
- A white sheet on using the Look Generator software is available on Arri’s site.
- It’s a great tool, however, it does not support output to a video card therefore limits you to create your look on your GUI monitor – and not a Calibrated SDI display.
3rd Party Color Tool
- Our recommended route to create your Arri Look files is by using a 3rd party color tool with Arri Look creation ability. Colorfront/Baselight/LiveGrade
- The reason we recommend this? The ability to create your looks on a calibrated display – ensuring color accuracy looks that will translate properly all through the calibrated display pipe.
- Look creation sessions can booked @ all SIM Dailies/Post facilities worldwide. Contact your Workflow contact for details.
How can we use Arri looks in your workflow?
Arri Looks can be used throughout your imaging pipeline by Camera, Dailies and Finishing – here’s some real world workflow examples on using Arri Looks.
Camera – On set monitoring
- Arri Looks created prior to filming would be supplied to your camera team.
- Looks are loaded into camera via SD card.
- As you set up for your scene the appropriate Arri Look is selected in camera.
- This is sent to your monitor out for viewing on set.
- Note – SIM recommends creating a numbered Arri Look library system for simplicity of logging and selecting LUTs. As an example:
- #01 = Low Contrast Day Interior
- #02 = High Contrast Day Exterior
- A live look library can be created with the assistance of your Sim Workflow Supervisor and Producer
- Arri Look information is automatically recorded within camera file metadata upon capture
- We recommend that a written record of which # Look should be used on which scenes is recorded on the camera reports – to minimize application error.
Dailies – Look application and Look creation
- Arri Looks that have been used to monitor on set can be automatically applied to the footage back at the lab
- These looks can then be used as a starting point for the dailies colorist and DP to go deeper – or to just print what was being seen on set.
- As with all color workflows – open communication between lab and DP is encouraged and embraced.
- The Arri look workflow should be viewed as an organic live process – besides receiving look information from set, the lab also has the ability to create and update your show’s look library as it progresses.
- If you find that a relevant look isn’t available to you on the day – a simple note to the lab to supply a new look based on that scene can be submitted.
- Sim will email the updated look to your camera team to load in camera the next day.
Final Color Correction – As a Starting Point
- Whilst Arri Looks are a great tool from set to lab– there are limitations when it comes to ‘Arri Look’ aware finishing/DI tools.
- Whilst certain color/DI tools have the ability to manually import and apply the original Arri Looks that were being monitored on set – this is not an efficient method of tracing back to
- Want to know how your looks can be traced back for automatic color application in finishing? Using a Sim managed Arri Looks workflow we are able to ensure this is possible – ask your local Sim producer for details.
This is a great Set to Lab tool – but not as complete as CDL’s in the finishing bay. Arri Looks are a solid creative tool allowing you to present your image the way you intended it to be shown from set, to lab and through to dailies. Whilst the manipulation ability of Arri Looks is simple – it is certainly enough to convey creative intent of most projects.
Arri Look workflows presently fall down in color, as automatic application is not currently supported in most DI/Finishing software