Confused by colour grading? Watch this complete guide to the basic concepts and tools
Dealing with colour in video is a two-part process. First, you’ve got colour correction. This is the process where you tweak your footage to get things as accurate to real life as you can. It’s also used to match footage shot with multiple cameras to give them all the same standard starting point for the second part of the process, which is colour grading. This is giving the footage your own creative aesthetic spin.
We grade to impart mood or feeling into our sequences. It’s a visual aid to help guide the viewer and put them in the mindset we want them to have while watching. And sometimes it’s just because they look cool. Whatever you’re reasons for doing it, if you’ve never done it before, it can feel a little intimidating, so the guys at Film Riot put together this “Color Grading 101” video to teach you all of the basic concepts of grading.
To be clear, the video doesn’t teach you how to get a particular look. But it does illustrate why you might want to go for a particular look and the how to understand and use tools at your disposal to let you create it. It answers a lot of common questions you might have, like what are colour spaces? What’s raw video? What’s log? What are LUTs and how do I use them? What are all these “scopes” things and where did my histogram go?
If you’re a photographer that’s making the transition from stills to video, it might feel like a completely different word to simply picking sRGB and tweaking a dozen sliders in Lightroom, but it’s not that difficult to adjust to with a little guidance. And if you’re going to be using DaVinci Resolve for your colour correction and grading, you’re going to wish Photoshop had a node-based editing system for your photos, too!
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.