Color Grading to Create the "Movie" Look

Here at Rustic Red Studio, we try to take your videos to the next level by applying professional level color grading to your videos.

Color Grading as defined by Wikipedia is "the process of altering and enhancing the color of a motion picture, television image, or still image either electronically, photo-chemically or digitally".

Drag the slider below in the picture to see a before and after of this video screenshot:

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after


As you can see in the before image, most everything looks acceptable. But by applying color enhancements we can improve the image dramatically and offer a higher level of professionalism then most. Sometimes during the day we are tremendously rushed to get ever shot perfect, but we are human and make mistakes. Luckily to some extent we can fix those mistakes with color correction before the color grading.

Here the white balance was off and the color looks to "yellow".

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after


Here the image wasn't quite in focus.

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after


So if color grading looks so much better why doesn't everybody do it? There are two main reasons why some don't color grade their videos. First, the reality of color grading and color correction is that it takes time, a lot of time. In a typical wedding we have around 800-1000 clips that need to be processed and they all have to be done by hand. Second, it is a subjective art. It takes experience, understanding, and a good eye to apply eye pleasing grading to an image.

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after


Something you might notice by switching back and forth between the images is that the blacks aren't that dark inky black. From what I've seen and read, in the world of "film" it was a shortcoming in the chemical process, where the blacks were never truly black. Until recently this has been accepted and the norm. We choose to imitate that nostalgic film look by not crushing the black levels, but rather shift them slightly to get a more pleasing feel to them.

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after


Finally the last piece is the skin tone. For me this is still a work in progress to get this perfect. A friend of mine, Zach, informed me that skin tone with film has a bit of cyan tint to it, but digital sensors on cameras tend to add a hint of red. So after trial and error, I have managed to get a more pleasing skin tone to my process. While I can't get too technical, trade secrets and all, feel free to ask questions and I'll try to answer as best I can.

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