What is Apple ProRes Log? How To Master Mobile Editing and Grading

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ProRes LOG, a feature on the latest iPhone models, offers advanced video capabilities, and we’re here to help demystify it. We'll start by breaking down what ProRes LOG is, its significance in video production, and how it can elevate your videography. No prior experience with ProRes or LOG footage is required – we'll guide you through every step, ensuring you understand how to harness this powerful tool to enhance your videos. So, let's dive right in. If you’re a visual learner, be sure to check out the video linked above on our Ultimate Tutorials channel.

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1. Understanding ProRes and LOG

First, let's clarify what ProRes is. ProRes is a type of video codec, essentially a format or style of file, favored by filmmakers for its flexibility and minimal compression. This format is easier on your computer during editing, making it a popular choice for handling high-quality video files.

However, it's important to note that ProRes files are quite large. A 20-second clip can consume about 1 GB of memory, which might seem daunting. But don't worry; we'll cover efficient ways to manage these chunky files without compromising quality.

Now, let's talk about LOG. LOG is a flat, desaturated color profile widely used in professional video production. While it might not look particularly appealing straight out of the camera, its real value lies in post-production. LOG gives you unparalleled control over color grading, allowing you to tailor the look of your footage to your precise vision. Additionally, it provides the highest dynamic range, meaning you'll capture more detail in both the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows of your image. Shooting in LOG is essential for extracting the maximum potential from your camera's sensor, and a workflow piece that separates the beginners from the professional filmmakers.

2. Enabling ProRes LOG on Your iPhone

Here’s how you enable ProRes LOG on your iPhone, specifically focusing on using the Moment Pro Camera App, a step beyond the native iPhone camera app. While the native app allows you to toggle on ProRes LOG easily in the left corner, the Moment Pro Camera App is our recommended choice. This app offers full manual controls and exposure metering and provides a variety of ProRes formats to choose from, enhancing your filming experience.

Here’s how to enable it in the Moment Pro Camera App:

  1. Accessing ProRes Settings: Open the Moment Pro Camera App and navigate to the settings. Under video settings, you'll find the option to toggle on Apple ProRes.
  2. Choosing Your ProRes Flavor: Beneath the toggle, you’ll discover different ProRes flavors. While the native iPhone app offers only the Standard ProRes, the Moment app includes options like ProRes Proxy, which we highly recommend.
  3. Advantages of ProRes Proxy:
    • Reduced File Size: ProRes Proxy files are less than half the size of standard ProRes files. This means you can shoot for extended periods, say a whole day, instead of being limited to around 30 minutes of recording time.
    • 4K 60fps Shooting Without External Storage: The smaller file size of ProRes Proxy allows you to shoot in 4K at 60fps without the need for an external hard drive. In contrast, attempting this in the native camera app with ProRes LOG would prompt a message requiring external storage.

By choosing ProRes Proxy in the Moment Pro Camera App, you save on storage space and gain the flexibility to shoot high-quality, high-frame-rate video directly on your iPhone. This opens up a world of possibilities for mobile filmmakers and enthusiasts alike, allowing for more creative freedom without the hassle of bulky equipment.

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3. Tips for Exposing ProRes Log Effectively

Mastering the exposure of ProRes Log is a critical step in ensuring the quality of your footage. Proper exposure is key because overexposing or underexposing too much can significantly impact the final look of your video.

Here are some essential tips for exposing ProRes Log effectively:

  1. Expose for the Highlights: A fundamental rule in videography is to expose for the highlights. This is because while you can always brighten up the shadows in post-production without much quality loss, overexposed highlights tend to look amateurish and are often irrecoverable.
  2. Advantages of the Pro Camera App for Exposure: The Moment Pro Camera App offers advanced tools like manual control over ISO and shutter speed, a histogram, and a waveform. These tools are invaluable for achieving proper exposure. The histogram and waveform help you to ensure your footage isn’t too dark (far left) or too bright (far right). Ideally, you want to keep the levels in the middle or slightly towards the left to preserve highlight details.
  3. Controlling Exposure with ISO and Shutter Speed:
    • ISO: Keep your ISO as low as possible for the best dynamic range and to minimize noise. Lower ISO values ensure the cleanest image quality.
    • Shutter Speed and the 180-Degree Rule: Adheres to the 180-degree shutter rule for a more cinematic look. This means setting your shutter speed to double your frame rate (e.g., 1/48 for 24 fps, 1/120 for 60 fps). However, in bright conditions, you may need a filter adapter and a variable neutral density (VND) filter to maintain these settings.
    • Adjusting Shutter Speed for Exposure: If you prefer a lighter setup and find your footage overexposed, don't hesitate to increase your shutter speed until you reach the proper exposure. This might deviate from the 180-degree rule, but it’s a practical solution for on-the-go shooting.

Remember, exposure is a technical necessity and an artistic choice. These guidelines will help you maintain the quality of your footage while allowing you to experiment and find your unique style.

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4. Editing and Post-Production for ProRes Log Footage

Once you've captured all your ProRes Log footage, the next crucial phase is post-production, where color grading becomes the focal point. Color grading is an extensive topic that could easily span a 20-minute tutorial on its own, but let's simplify it for the purpose of this guide.

  1. The Role of LUTs: One of the most efficient ways to color grade your footage, especially if you're new to the process or looking for quick results, is by using LUTs (Look-Up Tables). LUTs are essentially presets that transform your flat, desaturated log footage into visually appealing, color-rich sequences. They are a go-to solution for many filmmakers because they offer a quick and effective way to apply a specific color grade to your footage.
  2. Choosing the Right LUTs: I’m using Arri Phantom LUTs by Joel Famularo for this tutorial. While these are initially designed for the Sony FX3, they work remarkably well with the iPhone 15 footage. Joel Famularo is also developing an iPhone 15-specific LUT pack, which would be an excellent resource once available.
  3. Fine-Tuning Your Footage: After applying a LUT, you'll likely need to make minor adjustments to ensure the footage looks perfect. This typically involves tweaking the highlights, shadows, and temperature settings to suit your specific scene or desired aesthetic. These adjustments are crucial as they help personalize the look of your footage and can significantly enhance the overall visual appeal.

The process of color grading is where you can really bring your footage to life, giving it that professional touch. Whether you're aiming for a natural look or something more stylistic, the right combination of LUTs and adjustments can make all the difference. Remember, the goal is to complement your footage, not overpower it, so subtle changes can often be more effective.

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From understanding the basics of ProRes and LOG to the intricacies of shooting and exposing your footage correctly and finally navigating the post-production landscape with effective color grading techniques – we've covered the essential steps to elevate your videography skills. Remember, the journey to mastering ProRes LOG is both technical and creative, blending the art of storytelling with the science of digital imaging.

As you experiment with these techniques, remember that practice is key. Each piece of footage offers a new learning opportunity, and with tools like the Moment Pro Camera App and the use of LUTs, you have the power to create stunning visual narratives right from your iPhone.

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