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Stylizing a cold location with color grading

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

Video: Stylizing a cold location with color grading

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.

Stylizing a cold location with color grading

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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  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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