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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.
Let's have a look at how we'd color correct a location to make it seem colder. I'm using the cold landscape sequence, and I've applied magic bullet looks to this clip, but without any settings. And I'm going to hit Edit Look to bring up the interface. When the sky is overcast and there is very little sunshine, the way the Earth's atmosphere scatters the various wavelengths of light, means that we see a slight blue tinge in the brightest areas. We can simulate this with a three-way color correction by just moving the highlights towards blue. Just a little bit like so.
Here's the before and after. And this is actually what snow looks like. It's predominantly white with a slight bluish tinge. In the original photograph, it's very likely that the camera has a white balance setting or has been adjusted for this particular shot to seem so white. But in real life, we do see an ever (INAUDIBLE) slight blue tinge in real world lighting conditions. But when we see snow in movies, why is it always so blue? Well, it's a stylized effect.
What tends to happen in movies is that the mid-tones are pushed towards blue, whilst the highlights are kept quite white. This has a nice stylistic exaggerated effect, and actually seems quite cold. This seems colder than the previous correction. It's less technically accurate, because when we look at a snow scene in real life, it doesn't look this blue, but this feels colder. This is one of the stylized ways that we can exaggerate a location or even move the location we're in to an even colder country.
You see this all the time on TV. The nest time you watch the TV show, game of thrones, have a closer look at what they're doing to the grading in the snow scenes. They exaggerate this even more, they push the blues in the mid-tones towards a much darker blue. And they also push the shadows towards blue as well, and then deepen the shadows. Deepening the shadows increases the contrast of the image and makes it seem more dramatic. And in fact I have seen the grades pushed towards this greeny blue to make it even more stylized. And this reflects the content that is happening on the screen. Another popular effect is desaturating the shadows as well. So, if I drag on the Arrange Saturation tool, I can desaturate the shadows, and maybe some of the mid-tones as well.
And so, this is a much more dramatic colder scene than the untreated snow scene. What I find really interesting is the difference between what is technically accurate in real life and what is portrayed in movies. This might be partly convention and partly because we've seen this stylized treatment in so many films. But it's a very useful method for exaggerating temperature and for moving locations. It's important to remember though that as viewers, we place ourselves in the environment we're watching. We connect to the image subconsciously, and sometimes quite consciously. Imagining what it would be like to be there, and how we would feel in those circumstances.
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