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Understanding how cool color frames emotion


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

with Simon Walker

Video: Understanding how cool color frames emotion

Understanding how cool color frames emotion provides you with in-depth training on Video. Taught by Simon Walker as part of the The Art of Color Correction: Color Grading for Locations and Times of Day
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  1. 4m 45s
    1. Welcome
      1m 47s
    2. Telling a story with color
      2m 10s
    3. Using the exercise files
  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
    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
    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
    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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Watch the Online Video Course The Art of Color Correction: Color Grading for Locations and Times of Day
Video Duration: 7m 39s2h 6m Appropriate for all Jul 03, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

View Course Description

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
Final Cut Pro Premiere Pro Magic Bullet Suite
Simon Walker

Understanding how cool color frames emotion

As an audience we have an emotional response to different colors. One of the most evocative colors is blue. We perceive blue to be a negative emotion or to have a negative feeling for a variety of reasons. Overcast skies, especially in cold countries have a bluish light. And because it's cold we associate this blue with the discomfort of actually feeling cold. Also when we become cold the blood flow to our skin is reduced. So skin tone becomes less red.

We're used to seeing it all the time, which is another reason why we associate blue with feeling cold. In fact it's one of the ways we can tell the audience the temperature in the scene. We can demonstrate cool emotion in this shot here quite easily. I'm going to select this clip, go into the effects area and find looks, drag it onto the clip. And then in the Effects Controls tab click Edit Look to load up the looks interface. In general the color of light can be changed very easily with a three way Color Corrector.

The way the Earth's atmosphere filters the different wavelengths of light means that it filters them out according to their wavelength. Blue has the shortest wavelength and this is one of the reasons why daylight is blue. We can replicate this with the highlight control. In general the highlights contain the difference between the difference types of light. So if we make a highlight correction and push this towards blue then this is a more technically accurate representation of outside lights.

Here's the before and after. Just click on the tool button to disable it and re-enable it. This is a subtle difference between those two shots. I can push this out even more here, to give you more of an indication. So there's a definite cooler atmosphere in this shot. By the way, one of the things to look out for when you are adjusting highlights is to make sure that you don't go over the 100% digital line. Or in looks the 1.0 line, which is the same thing. It's just a slightly different unit of measurement.

So in order to bring these down what you can do is apply the Auto Shoulder tool from the post section. And it nicely rounds down the highlights. There are also clamping tools in a variety of different programs. Auto shoulder nicely rounds down the highlights there so you don't get any color banding or any odd colors in the highlights. We can exaggerate this cool look even more using the ranged HSL tool. And I'm going to put this just before the auto shoulder.

And this tool allows you to target specific colors and de-saturate them. You can exaggerate them, and saturate them by dragging them outside the wheel, but you can also de-saturate them by dragging them inside the wheel. So if I de-saturate these two, I don't do it too dramatically, that gives the audience an extra indication of the cool emotion in this scene. This is where we're starting to move towards a stylizing rather than a technically accurate grade on our clip. Because we're taking the original slightly bluish correction and then exaggerating it.

This is the difference or the balance that you have when making color corrections and grades. You want people to feel comfortable with what they usually see but then you also what to be telling a story. Just want to have a quick word about skin tone when you're adjusting these blue shots. I'm going to hit finish and jump to the second clip here. Here's our actress again but in a different location and she looks normal, she looks like she's sitting in a room and she's separated from the background. But I've already applied a color correction to this.

I have applied an instance of Colorista. And I've actually cooled down the highlights. So here's the before and after. This is the original shot which is nice and warm. And this is the corrected shot where I've just moved the highlights towards blue. The reason this is working is because the slight blue in the highlights is balanced with the darker, warmer colors in the background. But in grading it's a good discipline to keep your skin tones within an acceptable set of parameters. And you can demonstrate this by looking on the vector scope. I'm going to switch over to the color correction workspace. And if you haven't got vector scope already set up you can click on the Settings button, and choose Vector Scope here.

This gives you an indication of the sort of colors that you've got in your image. And this trace here represents all the colors together. If I diable Colorista, then the trace moves over towards the warmer area of the scope, because this is a warmer shot. What I want to do though is just check what the color is only on her skin tone. So I've applied an instance of the Crop tool here, to actually crop out the left and right elements of the image. You can find Crop tool inside the effects. Just search for crop and you can drag Crop tool onto a clip. So without the correction applied, her skin tone is much warmer, and it's sitting on this I-bar.

This is the bar in which you tend to put your skin tone. This is good practice, to make sure your skin tone exists along this line. If you move your color too much this way, then your colors become more green, and too much this way, they're more red. As a viewer we're used to seeing skin tone all the time and so keeping it on this i-bar means its more technically accurate. But it also depends on the scene at hand. It has to be balanced with the other colors in the shot. If I turn on the correction then instantly this looks a bit cooler. Here's the before and after.

But if I turn off crop it sits much more naturally in this shot because of the balance of colors. It's just something to be aware of when you're grading but so much of grading is subjective. You are communicating a story to your audience so it's okay to break the rules. And in general corrections to the highlights are more accurate for lighting conditions whereas corrections to the mid tones tend to be more mood setting corrections. So if I drag this over towards the blue here and I'm completely changing the mood of this shot from an audience's point of view.

We can see instantly that this is slightly stylized. Its telling a particular story that's showing us to pay attention to what's actually happening on screen. That's also an important part of grading the connection between the colors that you're effecting and the actual content. That is being portrayed or that is being carried out on screen. Lets just jump back to this first shot, and change my workspace back to editing. Blue as a color isn't inherently cold or negative, our interpretation depends on the circumstances. For example, a beautiful bright blue sky can be quite uplifting and give us a very positive feeling.

An important part of how color is communicated and interpreted is contextural, it references the content in the image. In this shot, although her skin tone has a bluish tinge, we don't associate it with physical temperature. It doesn't seem physically cold in this shot, just emotionally, because she's not exhibiting the sort of behavior we'd normally associate with being cold. She's not shivering. And she is not wearing cold weather clothing. These visual clues together with the blue in the highlights tell a story about what she is actually feeling.

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
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