Tired of your footage looking flat and bland? If you’re ready to take the plunge, here are some of the best online resources for teaching yourself the basics of color grading.
Cover image via Zappon
When you’re just starting out in video production and editing, color capture and grading might be the least of your worries. Things like focus, movement, and exposure will probably take up most of your attention. If you’re learned to master white balance (and not just rely on auto-white balance), then you may be ready to take the next step.
What’s that you ask? That would, of course, be jumping into the wide world of color grading (and to a lesser extent, color correction). So what is color grading? How can you learn it quickly? And most importantly, how can you use it efficiently to help your video projects? All great questions — let’s dive into the basics of color grading.
Color Grading vs. Color Correction
The above video from Fenchel & Janisch explains it pretty well, but basically the fundamental difference between color grading and color correction is intention. Color correction is meant to fix mistakes and bring colors back to center (what they should look like), while color grading is working with colors to change them to look differently for a cinematic purpose.
Color Grading DSLR Workflow
Depending on your camera, many color grading decisions can be made before you even begin filming. Shooting in neutral and flat profiles can increase your dynamic range to allow more flexility in post. The above video from DSLR Video Shooter is a good tutorial for some basics for your DSLR workflow.
Color Grading in Premiere Pro
Adobe’s Premiere Pro has become a very capable program for color grading your footage, especially with all of the recent Lumetri Color updates. While still limited in some capacities compared to After Effects and DaVinci Resolve, an updated version of Premiere Pro CC will give you plenty of firepower for grading your footage, as shown in the video above (via Tara Arts Movie) and the extra resources below.
- The Video Editor’s Guide to Color Grading
- 14 Free Premiere Pro Lumetri Looks
- Using Fast Color Corrector in Premiere Pro
Color Grading in After Effects
Like Premiere Pro, Adobe’s After Effects offers the same Lumetri Color controls for working on your footage. However, AE is a much more powerful and responsive program that should allow you a little greater leeway when finely tuning color grading — along with all other types of Cinema4D motion and design. Watch the video above (via SonduckFilm) for more, and then explore the additional resources below.
- 8 Methods for Color Grading in After Effects
- 20 Free Color Grading Presets in After Effects
- 52 Color Grading Presets and Looks
Color Grading in DaVinci Resolve
DaVinci Resolve might be your best option if you’re looking to get the most out of your color grading. Blackmagic’s program has become very popular and widely used across the industry by beginners and experts alike for its intuitive controls and capabilities. The video above (from The Art of Photography) is a good place to start, but if you’re looking for more, you can read up from the links below.
- 12 Tutorials for DaVinci Resolve 12
- 3 Tips for Using Color Scopes in DaVinci Resolve
- How to Use Composite Modes in DaVinci Resolve
- 100s of color combinations and schemes
What are your greatest challenges in color grading basics? Let us know in the comments!