Don’t be baffled by the world of colour grading – just watch our exclusive step-by-step video that explains the fundamentals you’ll need to know before beginning any colour grading

Before diving into the world of working with colour in the post-production process there are a few fundamentals that are invaluable to know so that you’re in a good place before you begin colour grading. In the exclusive The Video Mode film in the window above we explain the key things to know before you begin grading…

Colour grading and colour correction often use the same software but have two very different goals – so what are they?

Colour correction – this does exactly what it says ‘on the tin’! It’s the adjustment of white balance, contrast, exposure and so on in order to gain a neutral and balanced image. It can also be used to match footage shot on a different camera so you have a unified place from which to start off the creative grading process.

Colour grading – rather than a correction process this refers to the creative choices that a colourist makes. This is often done with significant input from the cinematographer and the director in terms of helping the storytelling process.

Computers and monitor choices
You’ll need a powerful computer to run your choice of grading software, such as DaVinci Resolve or Premiere Pro, but what is often overlooked is the need for an accurate monitor. You’ll at least need an entry-level monitor that can cover the entire sRGB Rec.709 colour space. For higher level grading, you would need a monitor that will cover the DCI P3 colour space, which is what is used for projection in cinemas.

Cope with scopes!
Within your software you’ll have a range of scopes to help you better assess what changes to make to balance your footage. If you want to find out more about using scopes to balance your footage just watch our video that explains how to ‘Cope with Scopes!’ – to view it just click here.

Technical terms you need to know
The technical terms that you’ll definitely need to know when delving into colour are Log, RAW and Rec.709:

Log video – this is standard recorded video but with a flatter colour profile. Basically the entire dynamic range of the camera is squeezed in to a limited space of the video format and it will require colour correction or a Look Up Table (LUT) in post-production to expand it back to its normal range. This process ensures you’ve captured as many of the details in the highlights and the shadows as possible as you can now manipulate much more of the tonal detail in post. However, you are still limited in that the footage was shot in a standard video format, which leads us on to RAW…

RAW video – RAW is the actual light data which is captured by the camera’s sensors before being converted into a video format. This means you will have so much control over the final image, such as finely tuning the white balance and even controlling the ISO in post too.

Rec.709 – Log and RAW often get graded and reduced to a much more common format, which is Rec.709. Rec.709 is the standard colour space in which most HD video is recorded and displayed – TVs, Blu-rays and most non-cinema cameras operate in Rec.709.

Tricky topic
Colour grading can be one of the most difficult topics to get a grasp on in film production, especially the learning curve of not going overboard with colours and knowing what’s needed to aid the story. Perhaps a good way to start is to watch films and work out why certain scenes are mainly blue or red or green and what does the use of colour convey to the viewer? Colour can be graded in a subtle way or a vibrant way depending on the mood that is being conveyed! Always remember many of these tools and concepts involved are readily available to you either in-camera or are integrated within your editing software.

Find out more…
The Video Mode has already produced several ‘must see’ tuition videos related to working with colour in the post-production process. To watch more about how to balance white balance your video footage and ‘Cope with Scopes!’ just click here. To view an introduction to Look Up Tables (LUTs), ‘What is a LUT?’, just click here. To discover more about how to apply LUTs just click here.