Join Robbie Carman for an in-depth discussion in this video What is color grading?, part of Color 1.5 Essential Training.
I am guessing, since you are watching this title, you'd have some idea of what color correction and grading is. But before we get any further in this title, let's get on the same page about what we mean about color correction and grading and some other concepts related to those subjects. One of the primary goals of correcting footage is making contrast corrections. Contrast corrections can serve several different purposes. First, they can be used to lighten or darken a clip. They can also refer to expanding or reducing the contrast ratio of the clip.
Like the clip here on the right. The top shot is a clip with a low contrast ratio, but the one at the bottom has a high contrast ratio. We will talk about contrast ratio in a later movie. One thing to understand about contrast corrections is that, on a day-to-day basis, it's what the colors does most due to the fact that our eyes are more sensitive to lightness than color. Of course, it's called color correction for a reason. Color balance corrections are the ones that, in most cases, attempt to make a clip look correct, or rather a faithful interpretation of the whether the clip was meant to be shot.
You can think of this as trying to create a neutral clip, meaning one that doesn't have a color cast. Color balance corrections can also be used to purposely style a clip by warming it up, cooling it down or doing something in between. By selectively targeting color balance corrections, you can perform what's called secondary color correction, and we'll discuss secondary corrections a bit later in this movie. Another type of correction is a saturation correction. Desaturated clips are without color, but most of the time we adjust the saturation of a clip to make it a touch more colorful or a touch more flat.
And I would like to think of saturation corrections as ones that affect the intensity of a particular color or range of colors across the entire clip. A major goal of color correction and grading is ensuring broadcast legality. Even if your project is not destined for broadcast, it's a good idea to try to stick to broadcast safe standards, as they'll help your clips look better, and we'll discuss broadcast safe standards throughout this title. The sexy part of working with an application like Color is to create a look. This can be super-stylized, for example, movies like Steven Soderbergh's Traffic and Pleasantville are both examples of modern films that leverage the power of creating a look.
Also, TV shows, like CSI, use very stylized looks. The thing to remember is all that a looks is is just a combination of different types of corrections. Have you ever been watching TV and you have the volume set comfortably, and then all of a sudden a commercial comes on and it gets really loud? Annoying, right? Well, a breaking continuity when watching or listening to something can be annoying, and a large part, of what a colorist does is ensuring visual continuity. What I mean is that we want clips to look like they all belong with each other.
This is sometimes referred to as scene- to-scene color correction, where clips match across different scenes as well as within a scene. So, let's talk about what we mean by color correction and color grading. Well, I use these terms pretty interchangeably, but a lot of people use only grading because it sounds fancy and more refined than color correction. Most of the time, these words are referring to the same process, but you can also think of correction as just that, fixing problems, while grading refers to more stylistic work. One important note is that in Color, corrections refer to what happens in each individual room, while a grade is the sum of adjustments or corrections for each room.
So, speaking of corrections, the most common type of correction, and the one that the colors will spend the most time doing on a day-to-day basis is a primary correction. A primary correction is one that affects the entire clip. So, in other words, you might make a primary correction that makes the entire clip lighter or darker. Primary corrections in Color happen either in the Primary In or Primary Out rooms. If primary corrections affect the entire clip, secondary corrections affect only part of a clip. Take a look at this graphic here with a pink-headed statue.
I used a secondary correction to have only the head pink and everything else in gray scale. There are a number of ways to make secondary corrections in Color, and all Secondary corrections happen in the secondary's room. There are additional ways to make corrections in Color. We can use the ColorFX room, it chooses different nodes, similar to the way Apple Shake works, to composite different corrections. We can make geometry corrections in the Geometry room and we can even make raw processing corrections before correcting red raw footage.
So, hopefully you have a better idea of what color grading is. In the rest of the movies in this chapter, we will get a little bit more technical and take a look at some Color theory and some technical concepts.
- Round-tripping with Final Cut Pro and Color
- Ingesting RED footage for color grading
- Understanding the Color interface and navigating Color's Finder dialogs
- Performing primary corrections in the Primary In room
- Applying secondary corrections using HSL keys, vignettes, and curves
- Using the Color FX room
- Keyframing corrections in a clip
- Preparing for rendering and output from Color back to Final Cut Pro
Skill Level Beginner
Q: I’m having trouble producing the cage as the author instructs in the "Making luma adjustments to specific colors" video. Double-clicking in the preview only changes the size of the preview. How can I make the cage as the author does?
A: Instead of clicking or double-clicking on the preview, perform a click-and-drag to produce the cage. If you select one of the buttons under the preview (the small swatches), then click and drag, you can also sample or "cage" multiple values (different cages) on the preview, which can help you if you're trying to sample multiple colors or luma values for secondary correction.