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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.
Changing the warm colors in a shot can also help us to identify how we feel about that particular location. I'm going to open Looks on this first clip which was shot in Venice. And I can use a 3 Way Color Corrector . Here we go. To move the highlights towards the yellow that the sun typically gives off, or rather the yellow light that's influenced by the sun's position at different times of day.
And then I can also extend or exaggerate the mood, how I feel about the warmth of this image, by increasing the oranges and mid-tones. The more you do this, the more you begin to stylize the colors in the image and the more you begin to talk to the audience in terms of how you want them to feel about the shot. Just these two corrections have a much warmer feel to them. You can just feel the extra warmth if you were sitting in Venice in these lighting conditions.
But many filmmakers extend this stylizing to actually make a distinct separation between two locations to communicate what characters are doing to the audience. On my next clip, I've got a scene in rural Wiltshire, close to where I live, which was shot on a late spring day and it's very English. And what I want to demonstrate is how you can use these color correction techniques to make it seem as if this was a completely different country. And I'll select this clip and open up Looks. In Steven Soderbergh's Traffic movie, there's a very interesting look that he applies to the scenes set in Mexico, that makes them very distinct from the scenes that are set in the United States. And he does this by stylizing the colors, over exposing the highlights and messing around a lot with the contrast of the image.
So I'm going to replicate this as much as I can inside magic bullet looks. Firstly I'm going to take a curves tool put, it at the beginning of the chain and flatten the contrast slightly by reducing the highlights and increasing the shadows. And then I'll take a colorist, three way tool and increase the warmth in the highlights to simulate the sunshine and then also increase the warmth in the mid-tones to emphasize the warm mood. And at the same time bring down the contrast in the shadows. I'll also overexpose the highlights and some of the mid-tones. So, we've got a really over exposed sky.
Since I'm playing with the highlights, it's always a good thing to get an Auto Shoulder tool from the post section, which rounds down the highlights. So I'm keeping my image legal, by staying under 100% digital. I'll also desaturate, some of these colors, in the mid-tones. Desaturating the mid tone and also the shadows. And then use a curves tool to re-bring alive this look, make it seem much more stylized and Mexican. I'm going to target the red mid-tones, bring those up, increase the contrast. Increase some of the reds in the shadows and then bring down the blues in the shadows and the greens.
This stylized look was very successful, the only in separating the two locations but also echoing the circumstances that were happening on screen in the Mexican scenes. But it's very effective to actually separate this from rural Wiltshire to somewhere much warmer. You can further stylize images like this to make suggestions that you're in a completely different location on another planet. For example, if we grab a Warm, Cool tool, position it towards the end of the tool chain, and then change the reds and the whole dominance of the image to be very stylized to suggest you're on an alien planet.
Perhaps Mars, in this case. Of course Color Corrections like these are contextual with the story you're telling and also what you're actually depicting on screen. So, whether or not we actually have grass in a mashion shot is entirely up to your particular story. But, it's the effect you can apply to different scenes to stylize them, which is the important thing.
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