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7 Tips for HD Color Correction and DSLR Color Correction

Color correction is just one step of the entire filmmaking process…but oh, what a difference it can make. You can take average footage and really make it pop, sing and enhance the viewing experience of your project. If you have excellent footage, then the sky is the limit. You can also make images look garish, ugly and destroy all the hard work the crew did to capture those images on the day of the shoot. The challenges and choices are many and it comes with great responsibility if you are the one applying the Color Correction and Color Grade. In the indie film world, jobs are more often merged and unified and Color Correction is more and more falling into the hands of the Editor. The smaller the budget and tighter the deadline…the more often this becomes true. Shane asked me to take this opportunity and pass on some tips and tricks I have learned over the years of Coloring features, shorts, ads, music videos and documentaries. I choose to use Adobe CS5.5 for my Color post work and bounce between After Effects, Photoshop and Premiere as I love the seamless integration it provides. I am ecstatic to be integrating Speedgrade into my workflow as it will be part of the upcoming CS6 release. That said…the tips I would like to share with you are applicable to all Color Correction software.

To get on the same page, let’s quickly go over some terminology that clarifies what is what in this realm.

COLOR CORRECTION is the process where every clip is manually tweaked to get a good exposure and balance of light. Each clip is adjusted to match color temperature to a predefined choice for each scene. This tedious and mechanical process is essential and in its own way, an art form. The use of SCOPES (Waveform, Vectroscope, Parade) is critical to this step and luckily most NLE’s and Grading software have them built-in. Without them you are literally flying blind and solely trusting your eyes, which have to adjust to room light ambience, fatigue, funky monitors and other factors constantly. Trust the SCOPES and let them guide you into accurate and creative decision making.

COLOR GRADING is the creative process where decisions are made to further enhance or establish a new visual tone to the project through software including: introducing new color themes, re-lighting within a frame, films stock emulations, color gradients and a slew of other choices. Being that this is purely creative, there is no wrong or right…only what the DP, director and colorist feel is appropriate for the story. It can be subtle and invisible or over-the-top and uber-stylized. Therein lies the challenge…The challenge of choices. The tools available are so numerous, powerful and often free (Davinci Resolve Lite!) that you have no excuse not to explore these options further before you embark on the Grading journey.

LIFT-GAMMA-GAIN / SHADOWS-MIDTONES-HILIGHTS / BLACKS-MIDS-WHITES
These are the three interchangeable assignments used to describe what portion of the image you will be working with. Every program uses one of the 3 naming conventions above, but in essence they are all the same. Even when working with LEVELS or CURVES, you rely on numericals but still have 3 sliders (at least) to make your adjustments. With these 3 controls, you can mold images almost at will.

There are so many different elements to Color Correction that trying to fit it all into one blog would be futile. I would like to focus on several specific tips that will allow the indie filmmaker to be as effective as possible in creating imagery that will help serve the story. I would like to thank Michael Evanet, the director of “HWY”, for allowing me to share his footage for this blog. I just finished editing and Color Correcting his film.

TIP #1 – SHOOT WITH A FLAT OR LOG PROFILE
Shane has learned over his extensive research and testing of every profile available that choosing a flat profile will allow you to capture as much information as possible into the camera. When I shoot on the Canon 5D mkii, I like to use Technicolor Cinestyle or Canon Neutral with minimal sharpness and contrast. I’m also about to test the Similaar Flaat profiles that just became available in four different flavors. The camera companies often have stock profiles that look contrasty and rich in camera but when analyzed on a monitor, you will have crushed blacks and blown-out highlights. That is information that is gone forever and you cannot get it back. We, as filmmakers with the tools in our hands, cannot accept stock anything! Just as auto anything on the camera is a recipe for disaster, stock profiles are for rank amateurs. Tweak away!

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

TIP #2 – TRUST THE WAVEFORM, VECTROSCOPE and PARADE SCOPES
In PREMIERE, go to the WINDOW tab and choose WORKSPACE and COLOR CORRECTION. Push the little RGB BUTTON on the bottom right of any window. This will reveal the SCOPES and more.  Waveform=Luminance. Vectroscope=Chrominance. Parade=Red,Green,Blue values. I can’t stress enough how critical and essential it is to use these tools. Once you embrace the SCOPES, you will be confident to plow through footage and have instant visual feedback to confirm you are making the right decisions. I won’t broach the calibrated monitor issue that is always lurking ($$$) and will just say that understanding and trusting the SCOPES will get you 95% of the way home. Grab a Matrox Mini and use that to calibrate any LCD TV if you’re in a pinch. This includes finishing projects for broadcast or passing QC for distribution.  I’ve on-lined four indie features on Final Cut Pro using only SCOPES that all passed QC the first time around.  I was sweating bullets…but survived! Adobe makes it even easier for me now.

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

TIP #3 – ORDER OF OPERATIONS
To maintain image quality and to preserve as much info as possible, it’s important to do things in the proper order.  Just as you wouldn’t ice a cake before you bake it, when you apply an effect is critical.  I have always achieved great results using Stu Maschwitz’s advice. Doing Color Correction on your footage in this order will help you maintain extremely high quality in the interaction of all the effects you use.  Not all steps are needed for every shot but in case you have to use them all, here they are:

1. Remove artifacts and de-noise.
2. Balance your shots by adjusting BLACKS/MIDS/WHITES, SATURATION and WHITE BALANCE.
3. Relight within a shot using power windows or masks.
4. Add gradients, diffusion and other lens filters.
5. Add vignettes
6. Grade your images
7. Simulate a film stock of your choice
8. Resize and sharpen

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

TIP #4 – THE FAST COLOR CORRECTER EFFECT in PREMIERE is 32 BIT, EASY AND EFFECTIVE
This video effect is a great starting point to tackle any shot. This one effect will allow you in REAL-TIME to address levels, saturation, tinting of the image, white balance and more. The shot below shows how I added contrast by raising the input black slider and lowering the white input slider. I used the color wheel and dragged towards orange to counteract the blue in the original image. You can also use the White Balance dropper to achieve an accurate starting point…but I preferred in this case to Tint the whole image towards orange and approximate a 1950’s film look.  I boosted saturation by a healthy 40% to make the image pop. Finally, a 2.35 matte was added to approximate the old Cinemascope aspect ratio.

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

TIP #5  -  ADJUST YOUR LIFT/SHADOWS/BLACKS FIRST
By adjusting your BLACKS first, you get a baseline started to balance your image. I like working from the bottom up and getting my BLACKS just kissing 0 IRE on the WAVEFORM. I then push the WHITES up to expand my image and get some contrast into it. Finally, I tweak the MIDS as needed. You will notice that moving the BLACKS or WHITES up or down will affect the entire WAVEFORM so there is a give and take dance as you work back and forth. MIDS do not affect the BLACKS or WHITES too much and that is why you should work with them last. Lastly, if you raise MIDS, you will lose overall saturation to the image, so compensate by bumping up the SATURATION to keep the colors popping.

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

TIP #6 - MIDS ARE WHERE FACES LIVE
MIDS are where the skin tones live and you can really make a face pop by raising the MIDS after you have a good balanced image. Sometimes it feels easy to raise the EXPOSURE in Premiere or After Effects to brighten a face or scene…but that raises all the levels evenly and will ultimately not be as effective as separately adjusting the 3 zones. A good IRE for a properly exposed face is 60-70 IRE on the WAVEFORM.  If you raise the MIDS too much, you will introduce the beast of digital noise, so use judicially!

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

TIP #7 - Look for the FLESH LINE on the VECTROSCOPE to see how far off your skin tone is. On the 3-Way Color Corrector effect, or on a plug-in like Colorista, you can change the specific zone of color where the flesh tones live. By adjusting the color of the MIDS wheel you can introduce the proper hues into a face that need tweaking. Move the wheel in the direction of the color you need more of in your face. Watch the section of skin tone move until it lines up with FLESH LINE. An interesting note is that the FLESH LINE is accurate for all races and skin tones. We all share the same skin pigment that registers as numeric FLESH color. Proper WHITE BALANCING earlier will make this a minor but still important adjustment.  If you are going for a natural look, no one likes a pink, red or green face. SATURATION should be dialed in at this point to give a natural look to the flesh tone. Here’s a subtle example of adjusting for skin…and an overt example for comparison.  Neither is right or wrong….it’s all up to what feels right for that moment.

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

Click the image to view high resolution.

I hope that I was able to pass on some helpful knowledge and that you learned at least one thing you didn’t know before you read this. There are infinite ways to approach Color Correction and the best thing is…no one way is the best. You don’t need every plug-in known to man, a 4k projector and a $20,000 control surface to color correct. You only need time, the simplest effects and a sense of wonder and excitement. Feel free to push the footage around and see how it responds. What may look like a mistake on one shot could be the secret sauce you need for a completely different shot. Experiment and enjoy!

VASHI NEDOMANSKY

To inquire about my editing and post services or if you have any questions, please contact me at:

vashi@me.com
310.526.1400
www.vashivisuals.com

Author: Vashi

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246 Comments

  1. Thank you David for spreading the knowledge and sharing the info!

    Post a Reply
  2. Hey Vashi,

    Great article and was wondering where you would put the Technicolor LUT that they provide with the Cinestyle into your workflow. Thanks!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Blake,

      Thanks for the question…it’s one that’s important and has a couple answers. I have shot a lot with the Cinestyle profile and as you know it creates a very flat image with low saturation (and perceived sharpness) that looks nothing like what your final graded image will look like. That’s because the purpose of Cinestyle (as opposed to my Neutral default profile) is to capture the most latitude and give you options in the grading phase.

      The Technicolor LUT applies a preset of color corrections over the Cinestyle footage to give you a “normal” image based on Technicolor’s specs. From there you can further tweak, grade, push and pull the footage.

      In Premiere, After Effects or Final Cut or Motion you can download Red Giant’s LUT Buddy for free and then apply the Technicolor LUT over the footage. This is fine and dandy but causes one problem for me. I might not get real-time play back and for me is a non starter. Here’s how I like to work with Cinestyle footage.

      In Premiere or After Effects…I apply a curves effect to an adjustment layer over the footage and use a basic s-curve as a starting point. This will play back in realtime on just about every computer given you have the minimum specs for Mercury Engine playback. This s-curve effect is only to allow me to get a better idea of how the final footage will look and will also allow you to show the director or client a more faithful and well exposed image. Cinestyle flat footage, along with Alexa Log and Red Raw and C300 C-log footage all looks uber-flat and not cinematic in its “raw” state. It’s supposed to. No work has been done to it yet. Often times directors and clients cannot edit without seeing some approximation of the final color look so by using a curve effect adjustment layer…I can make a real-time “one-light” color pass so they can better wrap their brains around what the footage is supposed to look like.

      When I do final color, I export the timeline to Davinci Resolve 9 (or whatever color grading software is required) and I grade from scratch. At this stage (again on a well-equipped machine) the Technicolor LUT should play back in real time and I will make all further color decisions as needed.

      So long story short…I use a curves effect in Premiere to get real-time playback and a useable, well contrasted image…then do final color after the cut is locked.

      I hope this helps answer your question and remember…this method is just what I use and there are many ways to skin this cat!

      all the best,

      Vashi

      Post a Reply
      • Hey Vashi,

        Thanks for the great and detailed answer! Excited to see more blog posts on color correction/grading.

        Post a Reply
      • Thanks for all the information.

        Will the technicolor LUT playback in real time on a mac laptop computer?

        Post a Reply
        • Jonas, that would depend on many factors including: laptop processor, RAM, running in Premiere, After Effects or Resolve? The technicolor LUT will run in realtime on my Mac tower in Premiere but not at full resolution. After Effects I don’t use for realtime playback. Resolve 9 achieves realtime playback for me.

          It will be harder for a laptop. If spec’d to the minimum requirements I think your best results for realtime playback would be in Resolve 9, then Premiere and After Effects last.

          Post a Reply
          • thank you for your answer. I am using premier. I really appreciate your time, expertise and i want you to know I’m using your technique with the S-curve. Very smart!

  3. Awesome. You could spend weeks watching and reading online and not get information this concise and good!

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  4. Vashi,

    This is one of my favorite posts on the blog. Very inspiring. I was wondering: how did you get the theatrical aspect ratio bars on the top and bottom?

    Post a Reply
    • Tyler…thanks for the wonderful comment and glad you enjoyed the post. In answer to your question…I made a PNG image file that I lay over my timeline on its own layer. I then stretch it out to cover the whole timeline.

      That way I can reposition the individual clips vertically to recompose as needed. In Premiere (and other NLEs) this is a real-time process so you don’t have to render as you go.

      Here is a link to the actual file I use! https://www.dropbox.com/s/lakgflhbh5yl0c7/VASHI235matte.png

      Enjoy!

      Post a Reply
  5. Thanks,I did learn one thing I could never get answer for.60-70 IRE for good skin exposure.

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Steve! It’s a good general range to keep in mind when you are balancing. Glad it helped ou.

      Post a Reply
  6. The best tutorial on the internet by far!! Thankyou so much for this!! You have helped me so much!
    Best Wishes!

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you so much Steven. So glad you enjoyed the tutorial and hope it helps you out in your work.

      Post a Reply
  7. Vashi, thanks for all this.. I am trying to build up courage to shoot a (Canon 7D ) commercial with one of the flat profiles. Thinking of using Neutral, but I am looking for information on the tweaks – reduce sharpness, sat and contrast? by how much? I know it is subjective, but I am looking for a starting point… shooting exteriors under partly cloudy skies, and daylight interiors.

    Post a Reply
  8. Hi Vashi,

    Thanks for your informative post. I use final cut pro, and I was wondering if you have used the app ’5DtoRGB’ to conform H.264 files into prores before? Would you know if 5DtoRGB is any better than final cut’s ‘log and transfer’ or ‘mpeg stream clip’ for squeezing the most outta the H.264 files?

    Cheers
    Andy

    Post a Reply
    • Good question Andy. When I edited in Final Cut…I found 5DtoRGB gave me less artifacting than “log and transfer” and MPEG streamclip. There are always gamma differences between the 3 methods but that is tweakable once you are editing/coloring. The files are considerably bigger with 5DtoRGB but if storage is no concern than it is a great way to go. I do all my H.264 editing now in Adobe Premiere and cut natively in realtime at the highest quality.

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks for your reply Vashi, and all the Best!

        Post a Reply
  9. Hello Sir,
    I have cimematographed a feature film using Canon 5D Mark3
    ( with old Nikon AI, AI-s lenses).
    The footage (H264-ALL-I-compression) directly imported to Adobe Premiere Pro CS-5, and have tested editing and colour grading.
    It produced satisfactory results.
    Instead of doing that, if the footage is decompressed,
    can we expect further more image quality?
    (I am Raghu from Kerala, India)

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Raghu! Congrats on completing your feature film. It really is a difficult task and I hope you are happy with the results of the imaging through the 5Dmkiii and your Nikon glass. I have 2 full sets of Nikon AIS glass that I absolutely love and I’m sure your footage shines!

      In regards to your question…if you imported into Premiere CS5…you will be accessing all the information possible in terms of color space and range in 32bit as that is how Adobe Premiere is optimized for. If you have a certified CUDA card and a decent amount of RAM you should be getting real-time playback for your whole edit process.

      If you choose to convert/transcode into Pro Res or another codec…you will not get more information or quality in the image but you will get larger files. Playback with Pro Res will be smoother on less powerful systems but no boost in image quality. The choice is yours but I prefer to stay in native format for my edits.

      I hope that helps and best of luck on your feature film.

      Post a Reply
    • Hi Raghu,

      can you share the name of the feature film you have worked. Want to see output of the 5D mark 3..

      Thanks alot.
      Sri.

      Post a Reply
  10. I’ll be tackling editing/grading for the first time soon. This guide looks like it will give me a head start. Many Thanks

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Paul. Best of luck on your projects and I hope my article will give you some helpful reference info if you need it!

      Post a Reply
  11. HI Vashi,

    I am planning to make a feature film with Red Scarlett, I am planning to have the basic color grading setup and hire a Gradist. My only doubt is how to know how the scene look on the big screen while grading…i know the question is stupid , but i just want to be sure that having the setup will not have any negative affects. Thanks in advance.

    Thanks,
    Sri

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Srinu….very good question. There are many, many factors to consider when you are talking about projecting a film on a big screen but only some are in your control.

      Given the fact you could be screening 35mm film, Pro Res, DCP, DPX, Quicktime or various other file formats through various kinds of projectors or on screens…we go back to the only thing in your power.

      I recommend using calibrated monitors during your grade as that will ensure your colors and levels will be as accurate as possible before you push your footage downstream and into exhibition.

      Your options for calibrated monitors range from a Matrox Mini connected to a LED/LCD/Plasma TV via HDMI and calibrated through the Matrox software….all the way to a grading suite at eFilm or Company 3 or any other high end facility that could cost thousands of dollars an hour. Other options are the HP Dreamcolor monitor that Shane uses both on set and in post or also Flanders Scientific Monitors or others.

      Finally, even using scopes within Premiere or Davinci Resolve or another grading program…you can comfortably get 90% of the way there if you are knowledgeable in the basics and good at reading the scopes. Believe it or not…there are a couple professional color graders that are actually color-blind!!! They rely on scopes and do amazing work so trust those scopes!

      So the answer lies in your budget and your resources….but for $500 (Matrox) and a LED/LCD/Plasma you can have a calibrated image that can deliver and pass QC for broadcast or exhibition.

      I hope that helps and best of luck….

      Vashi

      Post a Reply
      • HI Vashi,

        Thanks alot for the reply. I already got the CS5.5 and i will purchase the Matrox mini. Is Magic Bullet an efficient Color Grading software for the Feature film? I hope this one completes my Post Production set. If not magic Bullet please suggest me some budget Software. Thanks alot in advance.

        P.S : It is because of this Blog i got confidence in making a movie of my own. I bought the kit of 7D, Zoom H4N, Tokina 11-16, and rented Leicas and Scarlet.

        Thanks,
        Sri

        Post a Reply
  12. Great article. This is a lot of the stuff I’ve figured out through trial and error (especially the bit about adjusting blacks first). There’s also a great deal in this article that I DIDN’T know so thank you for that.

    Wish I had read this years ago – it would have saved me a lot of time!

    Post a Reply
    • Dennis, thank you for taking the time to post your kind comment. I’m glad you took away some knowledge from my post and I hope it makes you a smarter and more efficient filmmaker!

      All the best!

      Vashi

      Post a Reply
  13. Hi Vashi..Awesome info. I want to read this article 100 times & do it practically word by word with my canon 5d footage.

    I read lot of articles on color grading BUT THIS THE BEST ARTICLE. Especially i liked the fact that WE CAN DO COLOR GRADING IN DESKTOP & the way you are saying it confidently. All of my doubts cleared.

    PLEASE, PLEASE DO A VIDEO TUTORIAL FOR THIS ARTICLE..ESPECIALLY COLOR CORRECTING 5D MK2 FOOTAGE FOR DISPLAYING ON BIG SCREEN, ESPECIALLY COLOR CORRECTING IN PC(MAC/PC) – IT’LL BE A GREAT HELP TO LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE ME.

    Thanks in advance.
    Have a great Life.

    Happy Film making.
    Nivas

    Post a Reply
    • Wow! Thank you so much Nivas for your generous and kind words. It really means a lot and I’m glad you took away some good points from my blog post.

      In the future I may be able to do some video tutorials but I’m involved in some projects through the rest of the year that are taking all my time. I would want to do a video the same justice as my blog posts and I would want to plan it out properly. There are so many wonderful videos out there right now to keep you busy!

      Thank you again and I’ll let everyone know when and if I can make that happen…

      Post a Reply
  14. Hey Vashi,

    Amazing tutorial man. I’ve been Color Correcting resort videos and vacation videos for about a year now. I’ve usually stuck with the Three-Way color corrector built into Premiere and occasionally using Looks. Thank you so much for these tips, they will help me out tremendously.

    Just a few questions. I just purchased some Magic Bullet products and am looking to start using Colorista a lot more than Three-Way color corrector. Do you have any suggestions on where I could learn to use Colorista and any tips you could point out to make my videos look better than they do now?

    Thanks,

    Marcus.

    Post a Reply
    • Marcus, thanks for the comment and reading my post…I really appreciate all the wonderful feedback.

      In terms of Colorista and tutorials specific to that….jump over to the Red Giant website and check out their Red Giant TV tutorials. There are many amazing Colorista specific video tutorials that will really explain the finer points of that amazing plug in.

      Stu Maschwitz also has some great insight into Colorista on his blog http://www.prolost.com

      I hope that helps and best of luck in making your footage look better and pop!

      Post a Reply
  15. A quick question about canons neutral profile. Do you leave it as is?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Paul. When using Canon’s Neutral Profile…I use what Shane recommends. 0 for sharpness (all the way left), 0 for contrast (all the way left), -2 (two clicks left) for saturation and no change (middle setting) for color balance. Numerically, it is -4,-4,-2,0. It is a great, flatish, starting point for capturing a wide latitude of exposure and color. I hope that helps!

      Post a Reply
    • Paul Abrahams, -4 contrast, -1 saturation, 0 color tone, 0 Sharpness

      Post a Reply
  16. Vashi,

    Thank you for a fantastic blog! My imagery is vastly improved!
    I am using CS5 and have a question about TIP #3 – ORDER OF OPERATIONS
    Specify #8. Resize and sharpen
    Sharpening last is easy, however in Premiere the resizing or Motion effect is not moveable. How do you resize last in Premiere? Another effect or plug-in? Inquiring minds want to know! ;)

    Thank you,
    Bill

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Bill and thanks for the kind comment and good question.

      The last step of RESIZING generally refers to the final output given the delivery format. This could mean converting down from 4K/HD to 720p or 480p for the web, or even smaller for mobile devices. If that is the case…I use Adobe Media Encoder and use of the presets specific for that delivery format. Adobe’s presets are wonderful on their own and you can always tweak them for larger bitrates if you aren”t happy with the results.

      If the resize at the end of the pipeline is a larger spec size…1080 up to 2K or even 4K…I like to use Red Giant Instant HD or custom After Effects presets made from scratch.

      The RESIZE at the end is different from the reframing or gentle scale adjustments (5-15%) I might do during the edit…and I let Premiere handle that inside my editing timeline.

      i hope this helps and answers your questions! Thanks again for reading the blog!

      Vashi

      Post a Reply
      • Thank you, yes this clears things up, after I clean up after Sandy it is back to editing! Thanks again Bill

        Post a Reply
  17. I have written a script for a season feature film project with the working title: WANDERING, it’s project that comes with some branded products like: Drinks Telecommunication products and outfits to mention but a few. i am an individual with passion for QUALITY picture and post production, I can send u sixty scene of this script comfortably because i really want to work with your outfit.

    Post a Reply
    • JHIL Femi Blanket bfx, that would be great. We would love to check it out. thanks for believing in us.

      Post a Reply
  18. Great great great blog! Learned a lot in 10 minutes of reading.

    Post a Reply
    • Dagur Olafsson, thank you so much for your kind words

      Post a Reply
  19. This really inspired me to get busy with color grading and building a mood with Colorista this week! Only had a slight mismatch with some sea foam, but will re do that later. Here is what this article inspired me to do:

    https://vimeo.com/54044785

    My second project in Premiere Pro CS6 by the way, slowly switching from FCP and figuring out new worlflows, this site is really helpful in organising hidden knowledge. you know, the stuff you kinda know but is in the background and just fresh takes on old stuff.

    Post a Reply
  20. Hi Vashi,

    Thanks for your article – a great resource! One aspect that I’m still not clear on is when using the Cinestyle LUT in Resolve (version 9) is it best to use it as a Input / Display or Output LUT , or do you apply the LUT as a node. When you stated above that you grade from scratch in Resolve, where does the LUT come into play in your workflow?

    I’ve heard different workflows, and just don’t fully understand the process to get the most out of your files. If you use the LUT at the incorrect time do you actually lose the info you captured by shooting with the cinetstyle as I’ve read in some blogs? That doesn’t seem to make much sense. I’ve also read that some grade w/o the LUT, then apply it to a node and regrade with it- wouldn’t that double the work load?

    Your thoughts and process are much appreciated, thus far I’ve found results all over the place.

    Thank you again!

    Post a Reply
  21. Really Thankful to you for such knowledgeable Tips, which we could hardly know..

    Hope you will keep on giving more tips as well…

    Regards..

    Post a Reply
    • Abbas Khan from Pakistan, thank you for your kind words and support

      Post a Reply
    • Abbas…I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for taking time to comment. I hope you learned at least one tip which will make your editing and color correction work easier! All the best to you…

      Post a Reply
  22. Hi. how do u feel?
    i have a qeusten. u written : I choose to use Adobe CS5.5 for my Color post work and bounce between After Effects, Photoshop and Premiere as I love the seamless integration it provides.

    i understand that us After Effects and Premiere, wich charakter plays Photoshop here? i mean why is Photoshop importend for the video color correction ? thx and sry for my bad english

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Jib! Thanks for the question. Just to clarify…I use Photoshop in my workflow to handle stills, text and titles when I’m editing. I use dynamic link inside Premiere and After Effects to make adjustments to the Photoshop files.

      You CAN edit video files (and jpeg/dpx or other image sequence files) in Photoshop…but it is a cumbersome process with no real-time playback but in the future I’m sure we will be able to link to and edit smoothly video files in Photoshop and gain access to all the other plug-ins available in Photoshop.

      Until then…I am very happy with my Premiere/After Effects/Photoshop integrated workflow. I hope that helps and thank you again for the comment!

      Post a Reply
  23. Hey Vashi, great article man! I was just wondering, for primary correction, crushing blacks and increasing highlights adds saturation to your image, so would you have to compensate by desaturating as you’re adjusting those?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Justin and thanks for the comment and question. For my workflow, I like to color correction in passes. The first pass I will level out the shots and match them as needed. I never crush blacks or blow highlights out at this stage. On the overall grade for the last pass is when I will choose (if the story/director/dp want) to crush blacks (lose information) or blow stuff out (again losing info). Many films make creative or artistic decisions to aggressively grade to that extent. Film will hold up better to crushing/blooming as there is more information and latitude to begin with. DSLR footage can take less before you lose an overall perceived latitude…so use judicially!

      To finally answer your question!!!!…if you push blacks down hard and boost whites in the primary grade…you will be adding saturation as a result. You can either lower saturation inside Fast Color Correction or 3-way. Another approach is to use Luminance Curves to lower blacks and raise whites as they do not affect saturation. RGB Curves will affect saturation like Fast Color…so if you want to skip the desat step…use Luminance Curves in Premiere or AE to push the image around.

      I hope that helps and good luck grading!

      Post a Reply
  24. Very Helpful. It’s a bit off topic but I’m wondering if you could outline a good workflow approach between Premiere CS6 to After Effects CS6, Magic Bullet software and perhaps DaVinci Resolve. There are also a couple of new programs out there to consider: FilmConvert/ Technicolor-CineStyle etc. It’s a little confusing when to use what and in what order.
    Thanks for you great tutorial.

    Cheers,

    Alan

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Alan and thank you for your kind words and good question. There are many different ways to skin a cat so I can at least share with you how I would do it.

      I have purchased Magic Bullet Looks, FIlm Convert Pro and have used Cinestyle extensively so I’m comfortable speaking to that.

      Once my edit is locked in Premiere, I will use Dynamic Link to send any shots to After Effects that will need high quality FX work that I can’t do in Premiere. One trick I use is to copy the file I’m sending to AE above the original file and THEN make that an AE composition. That way I always have the original file in my timeline if I need it.

      Once all my FX work is done…I like to render out the AE files and swap them out with the compositions in my Premiere timeline. I then flatten the timeline down to one layer if possible. I keep titles and cards on a second layer above the video files. I then send an XML over to Resolve and apply my color corrections and grades. I
      can then either send an XML back to Premiere or I can render out the files from Resolve in ProRes 422 and swap out my Premiere timeline.

      If it is a short 30 second spot or something similar…I will often just kick out a flattened file from Premiere and use scene detection in Resolve to cut it up and then grade it.

      Finally…Back in Premiere…I will add an adjustment layer above the final footage and apply Film Convert Pro to that layer. I find using a film stock at no more then 50% color and no more then 50% grain (super 35 or full frame) really unifies the final footage and gives it a very organic and pleasing look.

      My favorite film stock in Film Convert right now is Fuji RL or VD for a contrastier look.

      I hope that helps and remember this is only the way I chose to do it…there are no rules…no right…no wrong.

      all the best,

      Vashi

      Post a Reply
  25. FYI: vashiedit.com is a “parked” website. Will you be adding content?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Sam! Thanks for pointing that out. My website is http://www.vashivisuals.com and I will have to update that in my post. I will be sharing new content on my website frequently and will hopefully be contributing more here at hurlbutvisuals as well. All the best! Vashi

      Post a Reply
  26. Really helpful one for the beginners too. Thanks.

    Post a Reply
  27. Hi, great article, it really helped!
    I was wondering if you could tell where to learn more about grading colour and the 3 way color grade, about how to use it beacause is a bit difficult though touching around
    Thanks a lot, have a great year!

    Post a Reply
  28. Thanks for your tutorial file,I’m video eidtor from myanmar and interest color corrcetion
    and visual effect.
    I hope you can help me.
    pls reply,
    thanks a lot

    Post a Reply
  29. Hi!
    I’m just getting into the CC thing and need a new monitor, so maybe a basic question but here it is:
    Does wide color gamut and Adobe RGB matter in terms of video postproduction and color correction / grading ? Or is there no need for it and a good sRGB color space is the thing to look for as RGB 601/609/709 is very much alike the sRGB space?

    Thanks for helpful information!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Laurence,

      I bought the Filmconvert Pro plug-in for AE/Premiere a couple months ago and absolutely love it. I’ve used it on 3 projects so far and the results have been spectacular. The organic results achievable of the plug-in along with the wide variety of film stocks have really made my footage sing! The new 5D presets have made my color workflow even easier and quicker and I have breathed new life into my DSLR arsenal. I will be sharing some blog posts featuring Filmconvert in action soon. Kudos to the team at Rubbermonkey for a wonderful product.

      Post a Reply
  30. Great tutorial. Lots of useful info. Thanks!

    Post a Reply
    • Paul, my sincere thanks for the comment. Im glad you enjoyed it!

      Post a Reply
  31. Great read. One question, Im using canon 5d mark II as my primary camera. I edit using Premiere Pro CS6 and want to add Davinci resolve in the workflow. My question is will I benefit from transcoding my 8 bit h264 footage to 10 bit DNxHD for color grading in DAvinci? I do thinks premiere and resolve both work in bit float.

    Post a Reply
    • I meant 32 bit float and its actually Canon MARK III camera.

      Post a Reply
      • Hi Jasan and thank you for kind comment and good question. If you are editing in CS6 then I would export an XML and open your original footage in Davinci Resolve. Both Premiere and Resolve work in float so you won’t gain any advantage by transcoding to DNxHD or any other codec. Keep it native then export once when you create your master files. Best of luck!

        Post a Reply
  32. Hey Vashi,

    I’m still relatively new to colour grading and Ive found your article extremely helpful! So thank you for that. I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark 2 and have been bouncing around with the Cinestyle profile and the Neutral profile. It seems like Cinestyle, with everything far left for the flattest image, creates more noise. Would you recommend one over the other? Also, after trying to get a low contrast look by grading in After Effects CS6 and using Curves mostly, I’ve been getting quite a bit of artifacting. I’ve been mostly colour grading by eye rather than using a professional, technical workflow so am I simply pushing the mids and shadows too high? As an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijVYSVu9Y7E that is a video of mine which highlights all of the problems I’ve been having. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and I admire your work. Thank you.

    Post a Reply
    • Andrew! Thank you for kind words and excellent question. I watched your short film to get a better grasp of what you are dealing with. It was a very nice slice of life and the editing and music were very well done. Kudos! I could see from the video what you mean and hopefully I can guide you with some suggestions. Judging from the film I would say that you are closer than you think to having a congruent, matching final product. The exposure of your shots tells me you could make it all feel as if it all lives in the same world. Nothing underexposed or blown out…that alone is a good thing. I’ve received much worse footage on professional jobs that needed all my skills to make them flow together and give the illusion of “oneness”. The white balance of your shots would be a starting point for me. Some shots had a green cast and some had a blue cast…especially in the darks. When the blacks aren’t black it really makes it hard to immerse yourself. Without using scopes and comparing shot by shot where the story is going it is very difficult to deliver a visual experience that feels like it is all happening at one time. There is no “one solution” and not every person is amazing at every step of filmmaking. You shot beautiful footage that looked cinematic but nothing I could say in a quick blog response will make it flow. What I can do is address your first concern about picture styles and artifacting based on my shooting experience. I DP’d a half dozen projects using Cinestyle and got very nice results in bright light situations but in any low light scenes…I always had noise. The post work work I employed got me back to a healthy, great image but at the cost of time and rendering. I prefer to shoot Neutral with Shane’s classic settings to get a solid, low noise image in most circumstances. Lately, I’ve been using the Visioncolor picture style for it’s excellent skin tone rendition and Neutral-like response. Grading a film is so subjective and I’ve seen amazing results in both low contrast and high contrast approaches. The only limitation in shooting 5Dmkii 8-bit color space is that you need to expose accurately and get as close as you can on the day to give you the best image to work with later. You are very close with what I’ve seen and I know with more practice and experience color grading…you will get results more in tune to what you see in your head. I hope that helps and best of luck in the future!

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks for replying Vashi! Your comments are very helpful and I think I’ve learnt a lot about Cinestyle, especially in this video I just finished yesterday. The only problem is now I’m experiencing quite a significant amount of banding. I’ve been doing a lot researching about banding and how the MK2 shoots 8 bit 4:2:0 files, and how using Magic Lantern or 5DtoRGB can boost the files to 10 bit. I’m dying to figure out some way to reduce these results because there are so many videos I’ve seen of stunning work with the MK2 and it’s obvious they’ve heavily graded it, but they have the cleanest images. Would you recommend uptranscoding?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB2FLaNiIDE
        In this example, this is the first time I’ve used denoiser 2 from magic bullet (i wanted to use neat video) and then layered 35mm 1080p film grain, which I do all the time. After using cinestyle in the subways with low light, I’ve realized that shooting neutral is the much better to reduce the noise. Also, the codec is exported is Apple Pro Res 444, with maxed out everything lol. Is the colour grading the cause of all this banding?

        Post a Reply
  33. Hi Vashi,

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information! Do you offer workshops or private consultations?

    -Ray R

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Ray. Thank you for reading and enjoying my article! I will be involved with workshops in the near future and I do consult on all sorts of projects big and small. If you need more information…please visit me at my site http://www.vashivisuals.com and please leave me a message there so we can get back to you. Updates for my projects and future work will be available there. Thank you again for reaching out and the kind words.

      Post a Reply
  34. Wow, this was SUPER helpful. A great way to get started into properly color correcting. I am amazed at the impact color has on the overall feel of a scene.
    Thanks a lot!

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Mick for your kind comment! I hope you can take away something from the article and use it your advantage. All the best…Vashi

      Post a Reply
  35. Sharpen goes first. Because modify the black curves. After you lost a lot of shadows information. Try it!

    Post a Reply
  36. Hey Vashi,

    Great post, very usefull, thank you! One question:
    You say you first denoise your source material, so you can have a clean start.. Do you mean you apply the denoise filter to your clips, and then export everything, and then reimport the rendered files into premiere?

    If so.. what do you export as? What container/codec? Cause that would have to be lossless right?

    Thank you!

    Post a Reply
  37. Wow, that was super! very nice tutorial! thank you so much!!
    I have just one question…tell me if this is correct: I always use the LIFT and GAIN to stretch the individual RGB parades while matching them, instead of using the “master” slider. Is this the proper way of doing this? because sometimes your image may have more blues… or greens… I don’t know if that’s the correct way.

    this blog is the best, Shane is great!
    thanks again
    Ivan Lee

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you for the kind comments Ivan! I’m glad you enjoyed my post and Shane’s amazing site. In answer to your question…you are doing it the right way. By using the separate color channels to balance the image, you have much more control and accuracy in your color grade. The master slider will usually affect RGB and Luminance which in turn effects saturation as well. The master slider is fine for overall changes but not for specific or isolated tweaks to your image. I hope that helps and best of luck in your endeavors! All the best…

      Vashi Nedomansky
      vashivisuals.com

      Post a Reply
  38. Excellent tutorial! I denoise the original footage with neat video in AE, then color grade in davinci resolve and for the final touch I apply holygrain film grain for the film look and to reduce color banding.

    Post a Reply
    • Nikomedia, thanks for the kind comment. Your workflow is solid and very similar to mine. I haven’t tried holygrain but will look into it. I’m always searching for new ways to improve and “cinematize” digital footage. Thanks for the tip!

      Post a Reply
  39. Denoising your videos earlier the better!! and vashi thanks for for sharing some great tips on boosting the flesh tones!! Thats why I thought that your video has a great lighting!!

    Post a Reply
  40. I’m impressed. I’m on my 3rd serious film , ever in my life and its a documentary. This tut quickly helps me understand on how to get rid of a given colour tone i dont like. My EX1r’s tend to f^&*-up the WB if the lightning is accompanied by a softbox. A certain scene was too greenish so i did what i usually do with my pictures and crush the blacks and lift the whites, adjusting greys for brightness. After tugging on the fast colour corrector as explained here i went to the opposite coulour of the green tone and just loved what i saw. I’m gonna get deeper into this now with better understanding. Just 1 thing:

    3. Relight within a shot using power windows or masks.

    4. Add gradients, diffusion and other lens filters.

    I’m curious on that. Do you have any more tutorials on that?

    Post a Reply
    • Bram….thank you for the kind comments and I’m glad my tutorial helped you get better results with your work.
      I will be posting more tutorials on color correction, editing and sound work on http://www.VashiVisuals.com There are some new tutorials there that cover color correction. All the best and thanks for your support!

      Post a Reply
  41. Hi Vashi.

    Send you a huge ‘Thank you’ from Germany.
    I was looking about a week for the right order of doing my CC.
    And for luck I found it here.
    These eight points and the ‘one-after-the-other’ was really helpfull!
    (Beside: I came to this article via this: http://vashivisuals.com/adobe-cs6-5-editing-tips-for-music-videos/)

    So – and now I do have a question to the skin tones:
    I found that it is helpful to use the ‘Four-Point-Matte’ (hope this is the right name for this tool in english) to select only skin-tones (for ex. a part of the face, without hair). So I can see if the skin-tones are at the ‘skin-line’.
    But if not?
    I have a clip here, which is shot with artificial lightning and which is somehow redish.
    I tried to use the 3-way-color-cor. and push only the mids till skinline is reached. But: The whole clip gets really ugly (greenish).
    And/or I also tryed the RGB-Curves. But it didnt work.
    ’3-way-color-c. second cc with mask’ didnt work well becouse the whole image is kind of redish/orange and so it isnt possible to mask only the face.

    Am I doing wrong?
    What else could I try?
    Do I have to accept the little to red skin?

    Thanks for an answer
    Adam

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Adam and thank you for reading my article and posting a very good question. You are on the right path with your approach to fix the skin tones and remove the red. The secret is that you need to combine both a mask (matte) and secondary color correction. Ideally, you should make a matte around only the part of the frame that has the skin tone. If you have already tried this and could not isolate just the face/skin tone because everything is reddish/orange you will probably have to rotoscope the face frame by frame. Another option is to open this clip in Davinci Resolve Lite (free!) and track a matte that only has the face/skin in it. It will automatically follow the area you select and you can then change the skin tone color with the same 3-way color wheels that exist in Premiere. Without seeing the image for myself, it is kind of hard to say exactly which technique to use…but the tracked matte with secondary color correction would be my suggestion. I know it can be frustrating, but good and believable results in post are often time consuming. The more you do it…the easier it wil be! Good luck and I hope this helps answer your questions! Vashi

      Post a Reply
  42. Thanks Vashi for this great workflow. It is really great. I have a further question:
    In Tip 3
    1. Remove artifacts and de-noise.

    What do you mean by “Remove artifacts” and how is that done.
    De-noise is that a step that can only be achieved by getting plug-ins ?
    Cheers and keep up the excellent work

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Yago for the kind comment. Glad that you found it helpful! In terms of artifacts and de-noise…artifacts are usually considered macro-blocks in the darker areas of footage and also banding in skies or gradients. Both can be addressed with de-noising plugins like Neat Video or Magic Bullet De-noiser. If you own or have access to After Effects, there is a “remove grain” effect that is already built in, but you really have to fiddle with all the settings to get a similar result to Neat Video or MB De-noiser. You would also have to add back some sharpness with an “unsharp mask” in After Effects in my opinion. If you have a lot of noisy or low light footage…it might be worth it to buy a plugin and save a lot of hassle and time. The choice is up to you! All the best…

      Post a Reply
  43. Hi Vashi
    I was reading again the answers to Q&A’s and found the answer there already.
    Thanks for your time
    yago

    Post a Reply
  44. Woow great man! thanks alot. Especially the order how to aply color correction is really helpfull.

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Remco for the kind comment. That Order of Operations tip really helps in maintaining footage quality through the color workflow. So glad it helped out!

      Post a Reply
  45. I noticed that you shot in cool lighting so that there’s no need to add add blue shadows and highlights in post production so all you need to add in post production are the orange midtones. How do you shoot in cool lighting when you are outside? What camera settings should I adjust to shoot in cool colors?

    And by cool I mean blueish. Not the cool as in awesome.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Bien and thanks for your support and good question. We achieved the blue-tint look all in camera. We dialed the Color Temperature from 5600 (daylight) down to 4200 using the manual settings in the Canon 5Dmkii. That shifted the color to the look we wanted and then we added make warmth in the mids to the skin tones. You can do all of this in post we had shot 5600…but with the 8-bit color space of the h.264 footage…we captured as close to the final look straight off the bat. I hope that helps and best of luck on your projects!

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks, Vashi! You’re a great help! You really helped me become better at color grading.

        Post a Reply
        • Bien…glad that it helped out! There is so much to learn…so every little tip and trick gives you another tool to perfect your craft. Thanks again for your kind commment!

          Post a Reply
      • That’s genious since you don’t need much effort in post anymore:D

        Post a Reply
  46. How much sharpening do you typically apply with the Premiere Pro sharpening tool? I’ve been adding a value between 30-50 to most of my shots. I have sharpening dialed down to zero in the camera. Thanks

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Aaron. Good question…I will share my method of sharpening h.264 (DSLR) footage. First off, sharpening dialed all the way down is essential as the in-camera sharpening will cause ugly sharpening and a lot of moire and fringing edges. Second, I prefer Unsharp Mask in Premiere/After Effects for my sharpening. I find it has more control then the Sharpen effect. After some testing to dial it in…my secret sauce for Unsharp Mask is Amount 100 and Radius 1.1 for a good general sharpening effect. That’s the settings I use to give my footage a nice pop. Give it a shot for yourself and let me know how it works for you! All the best…Vashi

      Post a Reply
  47. Wow.. I’m beginning my way to Color Grading.. and I stumble upon this article… Thank you… I think It’s a very good headstart for me..

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Arie! Thanks for the kind comment and I’m hope it gives you a nice introduction to the huge world of Color Correction! Best of luck!

      Post a Reply
  48. Great post….. vashi,loved it……I have doubt that which software is better for color grade, presently iam using premier and fusion,i dont know where iam missing but iam not getting cinema style colors in it. plz guide me how to get that.Thank you.

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Kiran for the kind words. Really appreciated! Premiere by itself will allow all the tools you need to achieve the color correction anyone needs for solid, cinematic images. That said…there are so many components to creating a cinematic image with cinematic colors. From lighting to framing to lens choice to set design and costume…all these factors must mesh and live together to form that illusive quest for Cinematic Colors. If you would like to share some stills from your project…I can take a look and give you some feedback. You can contact me at http://www.vashivisuals.com and email me directly there. I look forward to taking a peek at your work!

      Post a Reply

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