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Creating a flashback look

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

Video: Creating a flashback look

Having a stylized look is a classic cinematic method of talking to your audience. And telling them that the scene they're watching now isn't part of the current narrative. Just like cross-dissolve transitions can suggest a passage of time or a change of location, flashback looks are a classic way to change the narrative structure. So how do you create this effect and what are the rules. There are some general conventions but there aren't any hard and fast rules. This is my first clip the dinner date clip.

Creating a flashback look

Having a stylized look is a classic cinematic method of talking to your audience. And telling them that the scene they're watching now isn't part of the current narrative. Just like cross-dissolve transitions can suggest a passage of time or a change of location, flashback looks are a classic way to change the narrative structure. So how do you create this effect and what are the rules. There are some general conventions but there aren't any hard and fast rules. This is my first clip the dinner date clip.

I'm going to open up Looks classic method of doing a flashback is to desaturate and go black and white. So I've grabbed a Saturation tool. Saturation tools live in a number of these sections. There's one in the Post section. But this one fits in the subject section and I can click on it and bring down. The saturation. What tends to happen though is when you see this effect they tend to be combined with a diffusion effect. I'll throw in a quick diffusion onto this shot.

And you can choose to have the diffusion apply to more than this shot or just onto a section. In this case mostly the highlights, but it really is a question of choice depending on how stylized you want to make this. Once you've added a bit of diffusion, you can then tint it. Tinting is another classic way of suggestion a flashback look. I'm going to drag on the Warm Cool tool, and then tint it with a sepia themed color.

There are no definite rules as long as you're treating your footage differently to how the rest of the timeline is set up. Your audience will understand the convention that you're suggesting. Flashbacks are great opportunity to be creative. You can apply all sorts of effects to them. Magic Bullet Looks has a complete set of presets that you can apply to different clips to get these different looks. There's some nice ones in the diffusion and light section. Sultry Tron has a really interesting glowing look. Most of the work in this preset is being done by the Telecine Net tool which softens and add bloom to the shadows in the image. Which is the opposite effect of the Diffusion tool. Here's the Diffusion Max preset, which softens and glows the highlights. I designed and configured all the presets for Magic Bullet Looks. And I was able to include a very subtle one based on removing certain types of color from the image.

Here it is warm isolation. It's based on this tool the Ranged HSL tool. The Ranged HSL let's us desaturate colors by dragging these color pins toward the center of the wheel. But leaving the two main warm colors here, the oranges and the reds as saturated while desaturating everything else. I think is a really subtle way to suggest a flashback. I'll show you how it looks when it's applied to a different clip. Here's the second clip on the timeline. I'll select it and open Looks.

This has the effect already applied. I'll just break down how it's built up. First of all, there's a little bit of the Skin Softening tool that you'll find in looks. This just helps soften the skin tone in shots. The main tool doing most of the work here is the Ranged HSL tool. So we've desaturated all the color pins except orange and red. Here it is before and after. The major change in this shot being the change of her green dress. Then there's also a little bit of desaturation in the mid tones of the shadows and a slight boost in the highlights.

This is a very subtle soft effect but what I like about this particular effect is the addition of some film grain. The film grain tool is over in the post section. And because it's designed to give the effect of older filmstock. I think in a flashback sequence it's really nice because it helps suggest a greater passage of time because the film grain echoes the effect of old film. And that helps sell the idea of a larger passage of time.

In the Film Grain tool, you can also adjust how much of the grain is applied to the highlights. If you adjust the Highlight Suppress and move that up towards a hundred, then you get more grain in the midtones and the shadows than you do the highlights. And I think it's a nicer effect, because you, you get a nice contrast between cleaner highlights and more grain in the midtones. And it's also in a shot like this useful to turn off the color. So you get more of a monochromatic grain over the top of the footage. This is what it looks like when it's applied to a clip.

An obvious stylized look will be enough to communicate to the viewer that this is a flashback or a memory. Or this is just an event that doesn't fit into the current timeline being played out on screen.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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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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