What is ‘colour grading’
Colour grading is the process of altering and enhancing the colour of a film, video or photograph. Colour grading is the backbone of the visual world and is used in every; corporate video, commercial, documentary, film, web show, etc.… In short, it’s everywhere.
Colour Grading Example Video
Colour grading and Colour correction
A simple mistake most people make is confusing colour correction and colour grading. A video can be finished even without a colour ‘grade’. This is because a grade is there to give the image a look or to guide the audience. It’s there to enhance the image creatively. Colour correction is used to repair images for example, we use colour correction to remove ‘noise/grain’ which are digital artefacts that are added to the image when scenes are dark or underexposed, or we use it to adjust exposure when scenes are too bright. Colour correction involves other processes but removing noise/grain and adjusting exposure are the most common uses for it.
Colour grading in contemporary media
Now we understand what colour grading and colour correction are used for we can discuss how it is used in contemporary media. In recent years the film industry in general have moved towards the ‘teal & orange’ look and because of that the corporate world has quickly followed. What I mean by ‘teal and orange’ is the colour influences of those two colours, the mid-tones and the shadows are being adjusted to blue and orange. When shooting a scene, it always looks best when there is contrast between the colours, on the colour wheel we look for the colour that closely represents human skin, orange (within orange includes, peach and pink – which are both common skin tones). This is because most films involve humans so it’s safe to say that orange will be a dominant colour. The reason for the blue is because it is directly opposite orange on the colour wheel, this makes the actors stand out more from the background.
Shooting ‘flat’/’S-LOG3’ and what it means
As filmmakers, we are always looking at ways to make our footage look more interesting and compelling to tell stories. When we refer to shooting flat or S-LOG3 what we mean is the way the footage looks when it leaves the camera, footage shot in ‘LOG’ will look grey and milky. This is because this allows the camera to capture more information which in post-production allows us to manipulate the images in anyway we see fit. When we don’t shoot ‘LOG’ it means that post-production will be quicker but the feel of the image will be lesser than that of a graded ‘LOG’ image. However, this doesn’t mean that we should always shoot flat profiles, sometimes there is no point in doing so as standard footage can still be heavily adjusted, ‘LOG’ is just used when the camera operator decides it will be best for the scene.
What do I do when I receive a video from a video production company that looks grey and milky?
As discussed, this is not how your final film will look. Grading footage can sometimes take days, when the feedback is only on the edit itself it isn’t efficient to slow down the editing feedback by spending hours on grading each amendment. However, when feeding back on colours and final look, it is essential you give your input on style before the bulk of the grading is completed. This will prevent future delays.
Colour grading in photography and videography
Many of you will have heard of applications like: Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Both of these tools are used for still-image manipulation whereas software like: Adobe Speedgrade & DaVinci Resolve are used for moving-image manipulation. Photoshop is used for adding and removing artifacts for example; removing spots and impurities on faces and adding eye-brow adjustments to make them even and making lips look fuller. This will sound absurd but next time you look at a beauty magazine, give it a closer look. You’ll notice that everything is symmetrical and perfect, obviously this isn’t true to life but it is Photoshop. Lightroom is similar to Photoshop but it focuses on the image as a whole and isn’t used for specific manipulation and cloning of objects. We use Lightroom to apply a colour grade (much like a video grade) to a photograph and to adjust noise, exposure and sharpness. These are all cross-platform tool that are used within the video grading world too.
Finally, grading is an essential part of the filmmaking process. It has the power to make or break a photograph or video. Make sure that next time you hire someone to make a video for you that they are taking care of grading the footage and that you are giving them the right information. Maybe you can reference teal & orange to impress them!