Color grading is my personal favorite aspect in the post production process. It allows me to be meticulous with each shot, create looks that evoke emotion, set the tone for the shot or scene and display my creativity through another avenue. This is something that is often overlooked, in my opinion, but the right color at the right times can make all the difference.
I just watched the movie Limitless. The colorist hit it on the dot with the difference when he was on NZT-40 (the brain pill) compared to when he was off of it. In the middle, you see the rich and vibrant colors of the skin tones, clothes, background. To me, it looks as if they used a rec. 709 LUT to give the image that “pop”, with a slight boost in saturation. Whereas the other 2 shots are bland, drab, bleak and gloomy – with more greens and blues in the shadows, lowered saturation on the mid’s and hardly any highlights. This shift in color allows for an enhanced experience for the viewer, yet it goes unnoticed – like, “of course it’s going to be rich in color when he’s super smart and feels on top of the world.” That is the goal for color grading, to make that shift unnoticeable and match what is happening in the story/scene/shot.
I use Davinci Resolve Lite to color grade most all of my projects – thank you Black Magic Design for putting a free version for us small timers to download. This application allows you to use LUTs, power grades, easily match different shots, create presets for your favorite looks and gives you every scope, graph and waveform monitor to view in real time. This is a node based color grading program, not layers. It was a little bit of a learning curve for me, as I am use to all the Adobe products being layer based. Getting a real sense of how this program works took some time, but not nearly as much as the workflow – incorporating text layers, FX overlays, etc. – all while exporting to a lossless format to maintain the quality for exporting yet again. I’m learning new techniques with each project we produce, so I am no expert in this craft or program yet, but I felt the need to write about it, why I love it and what I use to do it with.
This was my first post, hope you enjoyed it,