Varicam Detail

bruce greene tech tip photo

Bruce Alan Greene
Originally appearing on the CML site it is reprinted with kind permission from Bruce and the CML

On my last major Varicam project I conducted a film out test and included a variety of detail settings in the test.  After viewing the film print on the big screen I selected a level of detail that I believed added enough “punch” to the image without any noticeable detail artifacts visible in the print. In the test I was surprised by how much added detail the film print would tolerate, though to be fair, I’ve developed a subtle eye for “Sharpening” through years of Photoshop work.

For the Varicam, I decided that “Master Detail” could be set as high as “0” before I didn’t like the look. To be on the safe side, I shot with master detail set to minus 2. At the factory defaults for all the detail parameters on the Varicam, master detail = -7 is the same as “detail off”. Master detail set to “0” is a significant amount of detail on the Varicam.  For the most part I ended up happy with my detail setting until…I had a shot of a woman against a bright blue sky. On my 17in LCD monitor, I could just start to see an outline where the woman met the sky. I then dialed down my setting a couple notches.

My advice for anyone brave enough to turn on the detail is to view your test image and test charts on a large LCD monitor that has a true pixel to pixel representation of the image. I think if one judges by CRT then one is apt to add too much.  Also, it is very important to use a waveform monitor when adjusting the detail. You will see changes in the detail settings on the waveform that you will miss by looking only at a monitor.

I hope this is of some help to those interested in this discussion.

Bruce Alan Greene
Los Angeles