PoyntonStops, Steps, Looks, and LUTs:
The Transition to Digital Cinematography

2-day seminar

A publication-quality flyer is available in Acrobat PDF format. It's intended for printing onto a US Letter sheet, in color. Print it and tack it up on your bulletin board; or, print the front page at 140% onto 11x17 or A3 paper and it's a poster!

Presenter: Charles Poynton

Sydney: Took place at fxphd/Future Reality/Deluxe, in Lane Cove, Sydney, Australia, Fri. Jan. 20, 2012.

Previously presented: Lisbon, June 2009; Toronto and Vancouver, Dec. 2009; Munich, June 2010.

Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, Oslo [[ In discussion, watch this space! ]]


Cinematographers and their colleagues – camera operators and assistants, colorists, visual effects supervirors and artists, and others – are in the midst of the transition to digital acquisition. Digital imaging technicians (DITs), digital intermediate engineers, and digital intermediate technicians are also involved. All of these people are engaged in translating aspects of film into the equivalents in digital technology. Many questions arise. How many stops of exposure latitude does a digital camera offer? What exposure index should be used? Where is the “film look” imparted? Why does noise arise, and what steps can be taken to minimize it? Should I record “log” or “linear”? Is it valuable to have an on-set display, or is that practice unnecessary? Where do the LUTs go? Who determines their content? Is on-set colour grading useful?

In this 1‑day Seminar, Charles Poynton will introduce digital cinema acquisition in a manner that’s accessible to cinematographers and related craftspeople. He will introduce logarithmic coding, and relate that to conventional photography and to digital cinema. He will describe camera sensitivity and ISO/EI ratings. He will describe the zone system, and discuss what aspects of that system are valuable in connection with digital acquisition. He will discuss the tone scale modifications that impart the “film look,” and he will discuss the roles of camera controls (“gamma”) and lookup tables in achieving these modifications.

Who Should Attend

The attendee should be familiar with digital video, HDTV, and/or digital cinema. Knowledge of mathematics isn’t required; nonetheless, we’ll show some equations and graphs! The Seminar will be suitable for people in positions such as these:

Registration fee is roughly USD 600, depending upon your membership in certain cooperating organizations. Lunch and refreshments will be provided; you will have a chance to socialize with your colleagues. Detailed handout notes – some of which form portions of Mr. Poynton’s forthcoming book – will be provided. To enroll, e-mail Charles Poynton, telephone +1 416 535 7187.

Charles Poynton - Courses & seminars