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Color is a powerful signal in video; it can subtly project emotion, mood, time of day, and location. Learn to manipulate these visual elements in a variety of shots, from interior spaces to outside landscapes, with color grading. Filmmaker, colorist, and experienced editor Simon Walker shows how to simulate a light source and different types of light, and choose an evocative color for your footage to tell the story of a particular location. Plus, learn techniques to change the time of day, the type of room, and the overall mood of a location.
Simon works with Adobe Premiere Pro and the Magic Bullet Colorista II and Looks plugins, but these lessons can be applied to any color correction workflow.
When you're preparing for grades, it's so important, so useful to talk to your costume department and coordinate your efforts. In this shot, we've got a scene inside a warehouse and this is going to be the standard thriller shot where we push the shadows towards a blue or maybe a bluey green. And they're balanced against the orangery skin tones. This is a standard thriller effect that's used on lots and lots of movies these days. There's one inherent problem with this though. Although we've got a nice gray background, which will accept a color change to green quite nicely. And our character is dressed in a dark gray jacket, you don't always have complete control over your entire set.
Notice the nice yellow post here. So, when you're color grading, you want to make sure that the audience is looking in the right place and they're not being distracted by elements in the background. So, let's have a look at how we might do this. I'll get a copy of Colorista. And drop that onto this clip. Here's the rest of the clip by the way. This is a bad guy walking towards the screen. Inside a primary correction, let's push the shadows down a bit, let's deepen them slightly and let's push them towards this classic.
Bluey green. At the same time let's bring up the highlights every so slightly and push those towards orange so we're getting a nice color balance. Orange is on the opposite side to the color wheel than the bluey green. So, these colors work together nicely they're complementary colors. And what it means is that your character is separated from the background. And becomes the focus for your attention. Unless there's a nice yellow post in the background which is really distracting.
So, how do we deal with this? In the secondary area of Colorista, we've got the keyer, of course, so the standard treatment here is to launch the keyer. And sample that particular color and then desaturate it. So, let's draw our selection marquee around it. And what we're trying to do is get that element separated from all the other elements by a matte. And that's working pretty well. Let's extend the controls in the scope here.
And just see how much of that yellow we can select without selecting the rest of the image. If I drag out the control here, I start selecting more of the hues and the loomer elements in the rest of the image. Thing about this post though that it's got some graduated shading in it. So, I want to make sure the whole post is selected, and when I desaturate it, I desaturate the whole post. So, if I drag these out, I can make sure that I've selected most of the post, give it slight softening to let that correction composite better in the image. So, there's no sharp edges.
But the problem here is I'm selecting other elements in the shot. It's quite often that you get overlapping colors like this, so most color correction programs have the ability to select a key and then also mask out a particular area. So, you can combine both the key and the mask together, and Colorista lets you do that as well. So, I'm happy with this selection for now. I'm going to click OK. And go up to the secondary controls and start to desaturate that color. That's working pretty nicely but if I move the desaturation control quickly you can see that I'm desaturating our character's face as well. So, what I'll want to do is draw a mask and only desaturate that post. So, desaturate it so that it's beginning to drop out of the image, there we go. And turn on the rectangle mask.
Now, the thing about Colorista is that you don't see the mask on the screen until you go up and you select the filter itself. Then you can start drawing on screen and moving this mask manually. I want to get the height right first, and then get the width and move it over the post. There we go. Now, if I change the secondary saturation, I'm only changing the saturation in the post and not on my subject.
If you've got a moving camera or you've got an element in the shot that's moving that you want to mask as well, you can turn on the ability to keyframe the position of the mask. In Adobe software, every time that you see one of these stopwatch icons, it means that you can toggle on the ability to key frame, and then key frame either the shape or the height or the position of your mask. Let's desaturate this even more. Here we go. And then deselect the mask and we can also bring down the exposure slightly at the pole.
There we go. So, it's fitting into the other items in the shot much better and we still got our nice treatment with our actor separated from the background with the tealy blue-green color balancing nicely with his skin tone. Once you made any secondary color corrections, for example, changing the color of the post in the background, you're not stuck with a color that you just did in the primary section, you can still go back and change your mind. You can make this even more stylized and push it more towards green or. Change your mind and then decide how much blue that you want to add into the shot and how dark the shadows you want to make.
But this ability to change the mood by changing the color is such an important part of the film making process and is why grading is a creative tool to be able to tell your story.
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