Cobalt Elite Film emulations
With our innovative approach, what we once believed to be an unattainable goal has now become a reality.
Exploring the Possibilities of Scientific Colour Emulation of Film Emulsion
In the past, we believed that achieving a proper scientific colour emulation of a film emulsion was an impossible feat. The market is filled with various options for “film emulation” presets and colour profiles. However, we found that most of these options lack the fidelity and the method required for proper scientific reproduction.
The never-ending variables, such as the set, the developing process, the scans, and the characterization process, make it challenging to keep everything in control. We have observed that many actors in the market make claims about their product’s quality, with tons of negatives in the pictures, fridges, and sometimes even white scrabs and plastic gloves to emphasize their approach to the task. However, when you see a colour checker of 24 patches or nothing about the colour workflow, it is usually just a marketing gimmick.
To achieve our goal of scientific colour emulation, we invested months in fixing the feasibility of the process while keeping our high standards intact to offer something comparable to a real calibrated scan from a roll.
Our primary objective was to find a proper target, rolls that were not badly expired, a certified light, someone expert with decades of film shootings, a specific lab to develop the film negatives, and a well-calibrated scan process just before our advanced process for any of our digital emulation. After months of hard work and dedication, we finally achieved our goal.
Target and Illuminant
It’s quite impossible to have a good colour calibration of a camera, in digital with a colour checker of 24 patches so you can imagine how impossible is the task to achieve a proper emulation of a complex film emulsion using the same small and limited sampler.
We started to think about the feasibility of this process when we found our target (below) with thousands of patches to get a proper reproduction of the Pointer Gamut. Using it in combination with the SG target offered us a good starting point.
Once, during months, we got the best possible rolls for the task and a properly certified illuminant for the set, we contacted one of the best Italian photographers, Roberto Quagli, as one of our past collaborators and as we know, the best for his long experience in film shootings.
Our second endeavour involved sourcing a suitable and certified illuminant for our targets. After much effort, we were successful in acquiring one. As can be seen on the right, the precision of the lighting is crucial to achieve accurate colour results
Development and scan
The development process plays a crucial role in the film processing industry, and we understand the significance of adhering to the best practices. We have meticulously followed the most viable approach for all our rolls, ensuring that both slides with E6 and negatives using the C41 process have been processed with utmost care and precision. Our team has collaborated with the best available lab, leaving no stone unturned to keep any possible variable under control. We believe that every detail matters and our commitment to excellence reflects in our development process.
As digital photographers, many of us are unaware of the true colours and signatures of film emulsions like Portra, Velvia, and PanF. Instead, we rely on the general taste advertised by preset producers, online reviews, and common videos. For those without experience with film, our only reference point is often memories of developed rolls and yellowed prints from old labs. Even online databases can be misleading, as they may show a famous film emulsion with a specific colour signature in one picture and the opposite in the next. This is because many photographers today are not familiar with the scanning process and its impact on colours.
At our studio, we use a colourimetric process during scanning to emphasize colour accuracy over sharpness, which is often the main concern. By doing so, we have successfully reproduced the original signature of film emulsions within a colour profile. However, we also kept the unbalanced version of our emulations to reflect the “wrong memory” created by the bad habit of scanning slides and negatives without following a calibrated process. As you can see from the comparison of the GFX file and the original film on the right, they are so close that you can confidently mix digital and film in your next shooting.
Our Elite colour profiles
By selecting your preferred profile, you can expect precise emulation results. However, if necessary, you can make adjustments to the raw file while utilizing the Cobalt profile to ensure colour consistency even after extensive post-production editing. Both calibrated and non-calibrated versions of each colour profile are available. The calibrated version produces results similar to a development and scan process that follows a calibrated colour workflow, while the non-calibrated version is akin to a product obtained through scanning at home or in a lab without white balance calibration.
When it comes to achieving accurate and consistent colour results in your image editing, selecting the right profile is crucial. With our Cobalt profile, you can expect precise emulation results that meet your specific preferences. But what if you need to make adjustments to the raw file? No problem. Our Cobalt profile allows for easy adjustments and ensures colour consistency even after extensive post-production editing. We offer both calibrated and non-calibrated versions of each colour profile. The calibrated version produces results similar to a development and scan process that follows a calibrated colour workflow. This means you can expect professional-grade results that meet the highest standards of colour accuracy. On the other hand, the non-calibrated version is akin to a product obtained through scanning at home or in a lab without white balance calibration. So whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, our Cobalt profile has you covered. With its versatility and precision, you can achieve the exact colour results you want, every time.