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Using Adobe SpeedGrade CC, powerful professional color correction and color grading is available to anyone with a Creative Cloud membership. In this course, professional colorist Patrick Inhofer offers a project-based learning experience to get you familiar with the SpeedGrade tools. You'll work three different types of projects through the color correction and grading process, which includes getting projects and footage into SpeedGrade, color correcting and grading shots, and then rendering and outputting shots. Each step of the process is rich with lessons and anecdotes that are applicable to real-world color grading scenarios that editors, producers, and other creatives will face.
This course was created by Patrick Inhofer and produced by Robbie Carman. We are honored to host this content in our library.
So far in this chapter on making primary corrections, we've been looking at the color wheels mode and we have also been looking at the slider mode. The one area the interface really haven't explored, is over here to the immediate left, which is this little layers panel which contains the layer stack. If you have access to the exercise files go ahead and load up 04_06_layersandprimaries layers and primaries. And what we've got on this project is a single clip where I'm already added two primary layers here, each doing a different job and we're going to be taking a look at these in detail in a moment.
Now, in order to add additional primary layers into our layer stack, we just come up here and press, plus P. And as I do that I'm getting additional primary layers attached. And a primary layer by definition in SpeedGrade is a layer that has this set of controls attached to it, which is our 12 way color correcter. The only time you get this 12 way color correcter is if you add a primary layer. In order to delete a primary layer I'm just going to highlight it here come down to the trashcan and click on it and that deletes the selected layer.
Now the next question you're likely to ask me is, huh, Patrick, really, we need more than one 12 way color corrector on any given shot? And the answer is, yeah, sure, sometimes and there are usually two good reasons for doing so. One good reason is, kind of a technical under the hood reason. The other good reason is for more of a creative reason. And I'm going to show you one example of each. So what I'm going to do is press the A key to pull up my Analysis Tools and what I'm going to do is do a quick evaluation of this shot.
And what I can tell just by looking at the scopes is It's a dark image, right? I mean my blacks are lifted a little bit, my highlights are way compressed, nothing more than 60 ire, and I'm fixing this problem here in the first primary layer called contrast expansion. Now, it's been turned off, I know that because I don't see a little eyeball there, I just see a black square, so if I click on that black square, I've now turned on this layer. And if you take a look, yup, I've done my contrast expansion. Now my creative goal on this shot, now the next thing I want to do basically is take these highlights and add more blue into them, so what I would normally do is come into my highlights.
I've already done the contrast expansion, so in theory these should be my highlights, right? So I'll come down here, I'll come to my gain wheel I'll right click to put it in color wheel mode, hold down the shift button to accelerate my mouse action. And I'm going to start putting a lot of blue into this and I'm making an extreme correction here and look at this. There's barely anything happening up here in the highlights, and yet I've done this massive move. What's going on? Well I'm just going to reset this for now. And what's going on is if I put myself up here into the white black gray out mode, very little bit of this image is actually considered to be in the highlight.
And that's because SpeedGrade segment shadows mid tones and highlights based on the incoming video before anything gets manipulated here in the 12 way color corrector. So I'm going to come back and use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Option + G or Shift + Alt + G on a PC that will take me out of this gray out mode. And what I need to do then is take this final image and feed that into a new layer. That new layer will then segment the image based on this waveform we're looking at and hopefully that'll give me some highlights here.
And then this gain here on the Highlights Total range should have some effect. And I've gone ahead and done this, I'm going to highlight this layer here, I'm going to turn on the eyeball and watch what happens on the waveforms. There's a nice blue push going on the waveform, if I come over here and you can see I've done a very small move. And yet, I've got a nice blue push, I'll go ahead and press the Period key and toggle on and off again, so, here it is off. Here it is on, and if I flip myself to the grayout mode using my keyboard shortcut control option G, or control alt G on the PC.
There you go. Now, the highlight control is doing exactly what I want. It's grabbing the areas of the image that I think should be part of the highlights I'll toggle out of this. And this is one technical reason why I might want to add additional primary layers, feeding one layer into the next from the bottom, working my way up top. Now, let me give you another reason to do this, and it's entirely a creative reason. And, we're going to start by adding one more primary layer.
And, this primary layer, I'm adding it because I want to do a gamma adjustment in the mid tones. So this will be midtone gamma. And I'm not sure I'm going to be sold on it, and I want to be able to turn it on and off independently of the rest of these operations, and I may even want to show it to my client, independent of these operations. So, I'm going to click on the mid tones here and I'm going to drop my mid tone gamma and then just when it gets too dark, I'm going to lift my mid tone gain and essentially add contrast there in the midtones.
And now I'll press the period key on my number key pad. This is the before that operation. This is the after and I like this much better. It's a much richer image, and now I can show this to my client separately from all the other operations that I'm performing. Now let's say the client says yeah I love that, but what did we look like after you expanded that contrast Patrick, without the blue push, without the midtone gamma, what were we looking at? Well, I can come down here. This is going to turn off all the layers above the currently selected one so if I click it, the blue push and the mid tone gamma are now turned off, now with this enabled, I can come up here and select the layer above it.
And now I'm seeing everything but the layer above that, which is the mid tone gamma. And then to turn that off and see my full grade, I just toggle that, and now I'm seeing my full grade. Bu the same token, if I just want to see what is this blue push doing, I can isolate whatever layer is highlighted here. By clicking on this icon and now it's isolating just that layer and showing me what's happening on that layer and I can cycle through by clicking on these. By the way I can also move up and down through these layers by press Ctrl up and Ctrl down and I can cycle through these.
And I'll go ahead and turn off this isolation to take a look and see what my final image looks like. What if the client looked at this midtone gap and says yeah I don't like it, try it again. I can hit the reset button here, and now it's reset both the name and it's reset my primary controls. I'll undo that. The other thing I can do is press option delete on a Mac, or Alt delete on a PC, and it's reset just that particular layer. I'll undo that. And if I look at this and say, you know what, I just, I completely messed up this image, I really need to start from scratch.
Well I can press Shift + Option + Delete or Shift + Alt + Delete and it resets this back to its base configuration. One primary layer. Everything reset back to default. I'm going to undo that. The other thing I could do is if I like this mid tone gamma but maybe the client said I like it but I want less of it, I've got this opacity control that lets me decrease the amount of effect this layer has. And so by sliding it to the left, I'm holding down the shift key, I'm backing that off. Now its at .5, it has 50% intensity, and all the way at zero its the same as turning that layer off.
This is a great way of splitting the difference, the client says I like it, but a little less of it. This is a great way to do a little less of it. And then I've got this little less of it layer I hear from the mid-tone gamma. If I want to copy this layer, the exact same settings and put it on the layer above it, I press this copy icon (NOISE) and it now does duplicated this later, gave me another set of it, including the opacity control. And now I can come in here and for whatever reason I've got it doubled up and I can now start adjusting it independently of this original layer.
Now, what we're looking at here in SpeedGrade is a layer stack. That's what SpeedGrade calls this is a layer stack, and these layers can be manipulated and moved around, so I can take this blue push and drop it underneath. The contrast expansion. Now, the blue push doesn't have nearly the effect any more because remember, it was relying on us manipulating the highlights. And if I were to isolate just this one layer, there are no highlights in this image. This blue push has very little effect. Turn off the isolation. I'll drag this back above.
So there it is: a crash course on using layers and two reasons why we might want to feed one layer into the other, and by now I think it's pretty clear that understanding how these layer stacks work Is fundamental to the color correction process here in SpeedGrade CC.
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