An Introduction to Color Grading: Why It Matters in Video Editing

As if editing video and sound weren't enough to tackle, many video editors are faced with the challenge of color grading their videos. The popularity of this process has grown immensely in recent years and it's not a surprise why: With a little bit of time, excellent equipment and some know-how, you can turn an average sounding video into something spectacular!

What is Color Grading?

Color grading is the process of improving the appearance of a digital image by adjusting its color balance, contrast, and saturation. This can be done with an image editor or with a dedicated color grading tool.

Color grading is often used to improve the look of photographs and video footage. It can be used to fix problems with an image, such as incorrect white balance or poor contrast. Color grading can also be used to creative effect, such as giving a film a specific look or feel.

There are many different techniques that can be used for color grading. Some common methods include using curves, levels, and hue/saturation Adjustments.

Why it Matters?

Here are a few reasons:

  1. It can create a cohesive look. Color grading can help to tie your footage together and create a cohesive look. By using the same color palette throughout your video, you can create a sense of unity and coherence. This is especially important in films and other narrative works, where the colors can help to set the tone and mood of the story.
  2. It can enhance the emotion of the story. Color grading can also be used to enhance the emotional impact of your story. By using warm colors, you can create a feeling of warmth and intimacy. Cool colors, on the other hand, can create a sense of detachment and alienation. By carefully choosing the colors in your footage, you can create a wide range of emotional effects.
  3. It can help to draw the viewer's attention. Color grading can also be used to draw the viewer's attention to specific elements in your footage. By using contrasting colors, you can create visual interest and make certain elements stand out. This can be useful for highlighting important information or drawing the viewer's attention to a particular character or object.

Here are 10 tips to help you get started:

  1. Know what you want to achieve. Before you start color grading, it's important to know what effect you're trying to create. Are you trying to make the footage look more natural? Create a certain mood? Make it pop? Once you know what you want, it will be easier to choose the right colors.
  2. Use reference images. A great way to figure out which colors will work for your footage is to look at reference images. Find pictures that have the same feeling as what you're going for, and use them as a guide when choosing your own colors.
  3. Start with an overall look. Once you've chosen your target colors, it's time to start actually color grading. Begin by creating an overall look for your footage. This can be done by adjusting the white balance, tint, and exposure of your footage.
  4. Use the three-way color corrector. The three-way color corrector is a powerful tool in color grading that allows you to adjust the shadows, midtones, and highlights of your footage independently. This allows you to fine-tune the colors in your footage and create a more polished look.
  5. Adjust the color curves. Another powerful tool in color grading is the color curve. This allows you to adjust the brightness and contrast of different colors in your footage. By carefully adjusting the color curves, you can create a wide range of effects, from bright and vibrant to dark and moody.
  6. Use adjustment masks. Masks allow you to apply color grading adjustments to specific areas of your footage. This is useful if you only want to adjust the color in certain parts of the frame, such as a person's face or a particular object.
  7. Be subtle. When it comes to color grading, less is often more. Avoid making drastic changes to the colors in your footage, as this can make the footage look unnatural and unappealing. Instead, try to make subtle adjustments that enhance the colors without making them look unrealistic.
  8. Keep an eye on skin tones. Skin tones are one of the most important elements in color grading. Make sure that the skin tones in your footage look natural and lifelike, without looking too yellow, too blue, or too green.
  9. Use color grading software. There are many different color grading software programs available, each with its own set of features and capabilities. Choose an app that is user-friendly and has the tools you need to achieve the look you want.
  10. Practice and experiment. Color grading is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Don't be afraid to experiment with different colors and techniques, and see how they affect your footage. Over time, you'll learn what works and what doesn't, and you'll be able to create stunning color graded footage.
Color adjustments drawer in Filma

In conclusion, color grading is an essential step in the video editing process. It allows you to adjust the colors of your footage to create a specific look or feel, and can greatly enhance the visual impact of your video. By knowing what you want to achieve, using reference images, and adjusting the color curves and white balance, you can create a polished and cohesive look for your footage. Whether you're creating a film, a commercial, or a social media video, color grading can take your footage to the next level.

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