Color Grading and Color Correction In Films
To achieve the coveted ‘cinematic look,’ aspiring filmmakers often struggle.
It’s not uncommon for people to lack understanding of the importance of color grading or color correction in the process that leads to such an appearance.
How are color corrections and color grading different?
The term “color correction” refers to correcting colors to represent reality more accurately, and “color grading” refers to changing colors according to preferences. The color correction process is essential to the post-production process, used to enhance colors to reflect the real-life hues recorded more accurately. Color grading on different projects will vary from one to the next based on how much or how little is done.
Let's take a closer look at them both.
An introduction to the origins of color grading and color correction
The ‘cinematic look’ is largely influenced by the analog original of video, celluloid. Color correction and color grading are two such tools.
The process of color correction happened during the stages of processing the film material after development when movies were still shot on celluloid – mainly because there were no alternatives.
In the last few decades, it has become common practice (starting in the 1990s) to scan celluloid film (via telecine devices) into a high-quality ‘digital intermediate.’ This allows for quality post-production work, including editing, visual effects, and color correction.
In comparison to traditional post-production, digital intermediates are typically printed on 35mm film back for posterity and distribution after the post-production is complete.
Digital video has dominated the consumer camera market since the early 2000s, making even prosumer-grade cameras more ‘cinematic’ than ever before.
Due to the availability of video and filmmaking tools, color grading has become a much more accessible tool, which is true in the democratization of the processes.
I will refer to color grading and color correction separately before we get into the nitty-gritty of their differences.
How does color correction work?.
• This process involves the correction of your footage as the name implies.
• You might have overexposed or underexposed a shot.
• Possibly the colors do not match between cuts.
You may have used multiple cameras simultaneously. Color information is captured differently by different cameras.
These errors are corrected within, and between shots in color correction, so the final film plays seamlessly when played back.
The correct color temperature can be restored if a shot is recorded with an incorrect white balance. This will ensure that the skin tones and light of the surroundings appear as they should.
The fact remains that balancing the white balance in a post is much more complex than balancing it while on set. So use your best judgment while you are on set to ensure the lighting is correct.
How does color grading work?
Adding color to your footage is called color grading.
You may have shot a dystopian sci-fi film, a gritty thriller, or a comedic piece.
In any case, you will need a color profile or identity for each film to emphasize the story through appropriate visuals.
You can get some good ideas of how your film might look by studying existing movies of the same genre.
In the process of color grading, one color might stand out more than another, or a complementary color might need to be intensified.
What color grading is and why you should do it?
The best video projects are always those whose footage is graded and revised, regardless of whether you are seeking professional recognition as a videographer or editor or whether you are trying to capture that elusive cinematic look.
A filmmaker can achieve better results over time if they practice the process as much as possible.
It is always a learning experience and an opportunity to take part in a project!
By grading your footage, you can show off your visual skills.
Using it is a great way to add dimensionality to images, bring out depth, and focus on details. An atmosphere in a film can be influenced by its color grade.
What do you need to know about color correction and grading your video?
During the post-production process, color grading and color correction appear at the end. Still, it’s crucial to note that their conception should be started in the pre-production phase!
Color palette and saturation can be decided earlier on if you already have an idea.
Before filming, you need a good idea of the color scheme and the look you want to achieve. This helps everyone work towards the same visual style for the entire film.
In addition to having a sense of what kind of colors you want to see in the background, it is essential for the director of photography to be aware of how the footage will be used in the future.
The film should be shot in black and white if it will be shown in this format!
Color correcting and color grading have become accessible to the general public, as with most new technologies on the consumer level.
Lumetri Color can be helpful (and reasonably reliable) as a starting point for editing video with Adobe Premiere or After Effects.
A free version of DaVinci Resolve is available for those who do not have the budget for Adobe’s software.
When to color grade or color correct your footage?
The color correction is absolutely essential if you plan to show the edited footage to an audience!
No work should be done on the color until the film’s edit has been finalized and locked. Coloring can be intensive, and changing the shot’s color that might end up on the cutting room floor is pointless.
If the video looks good after color correction, you can decide what color scheme would be best for the work. Afterward, we’ll grade the colors.
According to the previous sections, when you get a grade, you have the chance to be creative.
If you choose to use saturated neon light in one scene, don’t de-saturate the entire scene in the next (unless you’re trying to shock your audience).
What you can do to improve your color grading and correction skills?
It takes practice, practice, practice if you want good color correction and color grading.
There are always opportunities to improve on all assignments and personal projects.
Spend some time thinking about color even before you begin your color work!
Take some time to watch some of your favorite movies and focus on the color. How do they look compared to your memory? How do you like to see color grading done creatively? If you find a color image distracting (if any), what type of work?
Look at some stills from the films without considering the context in which they were filmed.
You should then go back to your work and look at the colors you have used and how they have been portrayed. To grade your work like your favorite movies, try opening a spare copy of the project.