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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.
- 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
Skill Level Appropriate for all
There are some colors that we're so used to seeing all the time, that we have an expectation of what they should look like on the screen, and the sky is one of those. But, the sky changes at different times of day and it changes according to different weather conditions. I'm using the skies sequence. And in this shot here from North Welcher, there's a bit of haze going on in the distance and so the this guy is a reduced blue. It's probably quite often that a client or a director might say to you why is the sky not blue? The sky is not blue in that because the color of the sky that they have their memory isn't the same as the actual physical color of the sky that you captured on the camera.
This is sometimes referred to as memory colors, and it's our perception of what actual specific colors should look like from our own memories. It's also useful to know why the sky is the color it is and how those colors are made up. Light is scattered by our atmosphere. And the more it's scattered, the more white it becomes. And it's especially relevant for blue because blue has the shortest wavelength. And that effects how it's scattered. So, in general, if you look up at the sky, the sky above you is going to much more blue than the sky at the horizon.
That's why there's a definite gradient in the sky towards the horizon. It's always more blue the higher up you get. A simple method to be able to correct this is something you can do in Looks. I'm going to select this clip and hit Edit Look, and if I wanted to correct just the blues in the highlights, I could select a Colorista 3-Way correction and position the highlights more towards blue. If I turn this off and on though you'll see that I'm changing the blue of the entire image.
So, a more successful approach inside Looks is to use a graident. I can use a gradient from the matte section. By default, it has a very nice orange gradient on it, but you can just move the color towards blue and select the blue that you want. And then just move up the gradient with the onscreen controls to suit your particular look. But its important to remember that if you're correcting a grid in the sky make sure that the horizon is lighter than the sky higher up because that's more technically accurate.
That's what happens in real life. Sometimes, though we're happy with the sky that we captured on camera, we just want to enhance its color. On this second clip on the timeline, this is shot in Venice at the middle of the day and I'd like to make this sky a little more appealing. I'm going to jump over to the Effects tab and drop on an instance of Colorista onto the second clip. If we just tried the highlights over towards blue we effect the sky but also we're effecting all of the blues and the highlights in the image so we're effecting the water color.
So, the trick here is to isolate the sky and then effect that independently of all the other colors in the shot. I'm just going to reset Colorista. You can do this with this secondary section in Colorista. So, I'll close up the primary and open the secondary, but there's an order to this, which works quite nicely if you want to select the clouds and the sky separately. So, in this case what I'm going do is, I'm going to select these clouds first, give them a little more contrast and then select the rest of the sky.
So, then we'll have a much more interesting sky to look at. So, here's the technique. I'll click on the Keyer button, Edit key and drag to select the color of some of these clouds. Then I can select the Plus key to select the colors I'm drawing on screen and also then the Minus key to remove any colors that I don't want to select. It's typically a process that you jump in between these two buttons to select or deselect certain colors on the screen. It's also important to add some softness to you map selection, so it fits more nicely in the shot.
I'm going to increase a little more of those clouds there. And a little too much of that area. There we go, that'll do, slightly softer. Click OK. Then I can go back up to the secondary color wheels. Increase the highlights of those clouds and as I increase them, it's just the white highlights that have been selected that are increasing. So, I'll just pop them a little bit and then stage two is to drop another instance of Colorista onto the clip, close up the primary section, open up the secondary and launch the keyer.
Now, I'm going to select the blue of the sky and do a similar procedure where I draw on the image. Making sure I'm selecting all the blue I want in the matte, I got the blue in the top right hand corner and there we go add a little bit of softness. Deselect some of the area I don't want. I don't want to select all of this cloud. Increase the softness slightly. So now, when I make a color correction I'm going to effect just the sky because that is the area selected in my matte. Let's just check that I've got these colors selected, yep, a little less on the clouds there, and click OK.
Jump back up to the color wheels and now I can move the highlights towards blue and I'm getting a much more interesting sky because I've got a more saturated blue and these clouds are popping out nicely. I'll turn off these filters and show you what it looks like before. Here's the before. Here's with the clouds popping slightly and here's with the slightly more saturated blue. So, is this technically the correct sky? The same sky that you shot and captured on camera? Well no, of course not, because we corrected it.
But its a common concept in color grading to further stylize or further improve what you recorded to match the expectations of your director and also of your viewer.