Understanding color grading and how to achieve a cinematic look

· 01-06-22 · Video editing

Video color grading

An effective color grade can transform even the most basic production into something viewers won’t be able to take their eyes off of. A cinematic look is so much more than just increasing saturation; it’s a combination of photographic techniques that work together to produce a beautifully stylized image. In this article, we will explore what exactly color grading is, its applications, and some great tips on how you can achieve a cinematic look with your own videos.

What is color grading?

Color grading is the process of digitally manipulating the colors in a video to achieve a certain look and feel. It’s also known as color correction or color grading, but regardless of which name you use, it’s an important tool for anyone who wants to learn how to grade video. Achieving a cinematic look is one of the most popular reasons for color grading, but it can also be used to correct issues such as poor lighting and imperfect skin tones. While many associate color grading with a Hollywood blockbuster look, it can also be used to create a wide range of moods and aesthetics, making it a highly versatile tool. This makes it a valuable skill to have if you want to get into video production as a hobby or profession.

Why should you care about color grading?

Color grading is an important part of the post-production process, and it can transform even an amateur shot video into something that looks like it was taken on a set. A poorly colored video can make even the most interesting content seem dull and uninteresting. This makes color grading a critical part of the video production process. It can take an average video and make it stand out from the rest, but could also be used to fix poorly shot footage.

Color grading can make the difference between a video that is barely noticed and one that leaves a lasting impression. Not only can it help to make your content more engaging, but it can also be used to fix issues with the video, like poor lighting or imperfect skin tones.

Types of color grades

There are several different color grades that you can use to achieve a certain look. While the names may differ, they all fall into the same basic categories.

  1. Contrast grading is designed to increase the contrast in an image, oftentimes making the shadows darker and the highlights brighter. This is a popular look for outdoor shots, as it can help to bring out detail in the shadows while preventing blowing out the highlights.
  2. Color Grading - This is the standard “Hollywood look” that is often associated with movies. It can help to bring out certain colors, like plants for outdoor shots or clothing for indoor shots, while making others less noticeable.
  3. Tone Grading - This is a superset of the two preceding categories, and is used to achieve more of a cinematic look with an emphasis on color and light falloff. This can make an image feel very warm and inviting, or it can present a more dramatic look with cooler tones.

Cinematic look with color grading

A cinematic color grade is more than just making everything brighter or increasing saturation. A good colorist will first look at the shot and make sure that the exposure is correct before making any other changes. Then, they will examine the image for any imperfections, such as poor skin tones or uneven light, and correct them. This is sometimes called “cleaning up the shot” because the colorist is fixing any problems that they can see. Once they have corrected these issues, they can then move onto making changes, if desired.


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