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The Art of Color Correction: Color Grading for Locations and Times of Day
Illustration by Richard Downs

Coloring an interrogation scene


From:

The Art of Color Correction: Color Grading for Locations and Times of Day

with Simon Walker

Video: Coloring an interrogation scene

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.
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  1. 4m 45s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. Telling a story with color
      2m 10s
    3. Using the exercise files
      48s
  2. 38m 20s
    1. What different colors tell the audience
      1m 6s
    2. How our eyes see color
      5m 12s
    3. Making sure color is consistent across multiple clips in a sequence
      4m 54s
    4. Understanding the correct order to apply color correction adjustments
      7m 43s
    5. Working with Premiere Pro and the Colorista II plugin
      7m 55s
    6. Working with Premiere Pro and Magic Bullet Looks
      7m 21s
    7. Making contrast, lighting, and mood changes: A general rule of thumb
      4m 9s
  3. 25m 13s
    1. Understanding how cool color frames emotion
      7m 39s
    2. Stylizing a cold location with color grading
      3m 18s
    3. Understanding how warm color frames emotion
      3m 16s
    4. Stylizing a hot location with color grading
      4m 40s
    5. Isolating and adjusting skies
      6m 20s
  4. 28m 0s
    1. Changing the times of day with color
      50s
    2. Creating an early morning look
      5m 24s
    3. Creating a midday look
      2m 36s
    4. Creating an afternoon look
      3m 46s
    5. Creating an evening look
      2m 34s
    6. Composing a day-for-night shot
      7m 28s
    7. Creating a flashback look
      5m 22s
  5. 17m 17s
    1. Changing colors to match the mood of the story
      28s
    2. Stylizing an office scene
      2m 31s
    3. Creating a bedroom color style
      2m 20s
    4. Designing a hospital look
      3m 13s
    5. Stylizing a morgue shot
      2m 56s
    6. Coloring an interrogation scene
      5m 49s
  6. 9m 26s
    1. Separating characters from the background
      44s
    2. Creating fake depth of field in Magic Bullet Looks
      2m 51s
    3. Creating fake depth of field in Colorista II
      5m 51s
  7. 3m 6s
    1. Next steps
      3m 6s

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The Art of Color Correction: Color Grading for Locations and Times of Day
2h 6m Appropriate for all Jul 03, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • How our eyes see color
  • What colors tell the audience
  • Making sure color is consistent
  • Applying adjustments in the correct order
  • Understanding how warm and cool colors frame emotion differently
  • Isolating and adjusting skies
  • Changing the time of day with color
  • Designing interiors like an office, a hospital, or an interrogation room
  • Creating fake depth of field
Subjects:
Video Video Editing Color Correction
Software:
Final Cut Pro Premiere Pro Magic Bullet Suite
Author:
Simon Walker

Coloring an interrogation scene

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.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about The Art of Color Correction: Color Grading for Locations and Times of Day.


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Q: Do I need any plug-ins or additional software to perform the color grading work shown in this course?
A: This course demonstrates techniques that will work in any color grading software, including the built-in 3-way color corrector tools in Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Avid Media Composer.  However, the author uses some plug-ins for Premiere Pro in this course.  While you can still get similar results with other tools, you may wish to try the same tools used in the course.  If so, you can install Colorista II and Looks by Magic Bullet.  There are free trial versions of these plug-ins available at the Red Giant website at https://www.redgiant.com/downloads/trial-versions/registration/magic-bullet-colorista-ii/.
 
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