When you are a newbie at filming and editing, when you get good footages, you’d think “This just needs to be glued together it’s good to go”. Well, it kind of is, but let me tell you how to elevate those footages… *whispers* Colour grading.
So What is Colour Grading?
Basically, it is a post-production process where you or editors make changes to the colour qualities of the footages you captured. Everything from contrast, brightness, shadows, white balance, black depth, saturation, sharpness and colour shadows and fill.
It sets the tone
As you can see, Log C is the raw shot.
So, what they did to make it feel like a suspenseful action movie is they kicked up the shot’s temperature. They also kicked the brightness for the audience to see more details because you’d want to me more observant when watching a suspenseful movie.
And to make it more mysterious that will make you feel like you are solving a crime, they kicked up the contrast, moved towards the blue side of the temperature and moved the saturation upwards to bring in a little more colour.
And to make the shot feels dramatic, they corrected the shot colours as to how we see colours in real life to make it more realistic and relatable.
Do you see how this shot is the same but gives off a different tone and mood because of their colors? That is colour grading.
It gives life to “flat shots”
So first, let’s define what is a flat shot is, according to fstoppers.com it is shots that are intentionally shot looking very lifeless, pale and doesn’t show any detail, well because it is for the editors to later fix in the post-production.
Here is an example of a flat shot from House on a Pine Street which they intentionally did. (Fig. 1)
And here is a shot that is colour graded by Taylre Jones, at Grade Kansas City (Fig. 2)
Notice how the Fig. 2 looks so much more detailed, crisp and very interesting to the eye? while the Fig. 1 is just boring, plain and flat. Would you be interested to watch films that look like Fig. 1? I don’t think so.
Here is another example that will show you the difference between flat shots and colour graded shots from E3W Productions. It will show you the layers of grading they did to achieve the final colour that they want to present to the audience.
Colour Grading builds a style and brand
It builds a brand that represents you as an artist and a visionary. Think about what the audience will think or say when they watch your footages and it is well colour graded. They will immediately think that you know what you’re doing. And once you find the style that is uniquely you, people will be able to tell that it’s your work the first glance. Just like how almost everyone knows if an artwork is made by Van Gogh or not in just a glance.
Don’t be afraid to use it
I know it can look overwhelming the first time you’re doing it. You can oversaturate, or overly darken/lighten shots and etc. but you’ll never learn if you won’t try and you won’t get successful if you won’t mess up sometimes. Once you master the art colour grading, it is going to be your best friend.
And to conclude, It is always up to your creative vision whether you think your shots need colour grading or not. Just remember that it is always there available for you to use. Also know what it does to your shots and know how important setting tones, giving life to shots and creating a brand and style for yourself is.