7 June 2021

How To Do Color Grading & What Color Grading Is

How to Do Color Grading 

One of the most important skills a filmmaker should learn is how to do color grading! Not only does a good color grade make your films look more professional it also conveys mood and emotion. In this article, we will look at the difference between color grading and color correction, what color grading is, how to learn color grading, and a whole lot more!

Why Color Grading is Important?

Some of you might be wondering, what is color grading? Color grading is one of the most important steps in making a film but it can often be overlooked. Have you ever seen a video where the colors look flat with no contrast and just washed out? That is a video that has not had color grading done. Color grading is the act of changing the curves, levels, contrast, exposure, hues, and basically anything to do with manipulating and stylizing the color of a shot.

Many of you have probably used preset filters that change the color of your photos or videos on Instagram on the Splice app, that is essentially what color grading is. In addition to color grading making your film look more professional, it can also completely change the mood of your film! Imagine a shot that has high vibrance, lots of colors, and warm light flowing in from the sun. Now imagine that same shot if we color graded it to be in black and white. The vibrant and warm color grade of that shot would give us a completely different feeling than the black and white version. This is why color grading is so important, it gives you the ability to change how the viewer feels about every scene - film color grading is a superpower worth learning!

Color Correction VS. Color Grading 

One of the big confusions around color grading is the difference between color correction vs color grading. You might think that color correction and color grading are the same thing right? They are actually quite different! Color correction is the technical process of balancing the levels in your clip to make sure it is exposed properly and just looks even. Color grading on the other hand is a creative process where you manipulate the colors, stylize your footage, add colorful tints and add emotion with color. Typically you will want to do the color correction process first to balance out the clip and make it a neutral starting point before grading. Once the clip is color corrected, then you can start color grading and adding color and emotion to it!

How To Do Color Grading

Now that we know the importance of color grading, let's look at different ways you can color grade. There is a massive list of filmmaking software that you can use to color grade but picking the right one is important to get good cinematic color grading. Below we will outline some of our favorite video editors to color grade in and how to learn cool color grading.

  • Presets & Filters

Using presets and filters is a great way to get cool color grading even if you don't have much experience. Some of the easiest ways to do this are by using a mobile app like Instagram or Splice Video Editor and using the built-in filters that both these apps have. Both of these mobile apps have a great selection of color grading filters that you can apply to your footage in a single click! While preset filters can be great, just make sure that you don't over-do it with the colors. Some presets can be very strong or not work well on your footage if the lighting is off. When in doubt, lower the intensity of your preset and keep it minimal.

  • Color Grading in Premiere Pro

Desktop computer apps like Premiere Pro are a great way to make more advanced color grading. It will take you longer to learn how to do color grading in Premiere Pro but the payoff will be amazing film color grading that stands out! To learn how to color grade in Premiere Pro check out this in-depth cinematic color grading tutorial. You can also use color grading presets in Premiere pro but in this software, they call them LUTs.

LUTs are a great way to apply a professional look to your footage with a single click. Once you add the LUT you can adjust the intensity of it and make it match your footage a bit better. For a full overview on using LUTs in Premiere Pro check out this tutorial. While you could just use LUTs right from the start, it is important to gain a bit of knowledge on how to grade your own footage. LUTs are a very general way to edit and they won't always work well with your footage because your lighting, camera, settings, and lenses are going to be different from the filmmaker who made the preset. Ideally, learn how to color grade a bit in Premiere Pro with YouTube tutorials, and eventually, you can even make your own LUTs by following this tutorial!

Color Grading in Summary

By learning how to do color grading you are unlocking a whole new part of filmmaking! With movie color grading, you get a chance to completely change the mood and feel of your film. Learning the process of color grading can be time-consuming and frustrating but it will pay off by stepping up the quality of your films! Put in some time, learn color grading and add some more emotion to your films!

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