– This video is your beginner’s guide to doing some awesome cinematic color grading. wanted to put everything into one kind of beginner’s guide, or like foundational video, to get you up and running with color grading and to get you comfortable color grading. One of the things that I’ve always found an issue for myself is that color grading can seem kind of daunting. If you’re shooting all this footage in, say, log and you have to turn around videos fast, putting a good color grade on your footage takes time, so if you’re spending a lot of time color grading, you’re not gonna spend as much time shooting and producing more content.
So the idea behind this video is basically to give you guys the idea of the different tools you have in your arsenal, and this is with any editing software, and then from there, what it comes down to is just playing with these tools and coming up with the looks that you like. Now, one thing to note before we get into the basics of color grading, there is a software that I started using recently called Cinema Grade and it’s basically like the Lightroom for video creators and it’s incredible.
So I’m gonna talk about the different tools that you can use for color grading in this video, however if you’re interested in Cinema Grade, I’m gonna talk about that at the end of the video and I’m gonna show you how this is a much more powerful way to color grade than just using the tools in your editing software. So, guys, if you wanna check out cinema grade, this is the time I’m gonna start talking about it. I’ll also put a link down in the description so you guys can check it out. This is a much more powerful color grading software that’s an add-on to any of your other softwares and it makes it so much easier.
It’s what I’ve been using to color grade all of my content recently. So let’s just get started with the basics. So when you’re shooting, there are two ways that you’re gonna be shooting. You’re either gonna be shooting a flat log profile or you’re gonna be shooting something with a look already burnt in. Now, for me, I do both and it depends on what it is that I’m shooting. If you’re shooting log, the reason that you wanna shoot log is because you’re trying to preserve your highlights and not crush your blacks.
If you don’t have a scene that’s super high contrast or you don’t have a ton of time to put into color grading, then I wouldn’t suggest shooting log. Personally, when I shoot the GH5, most of the time I’m shooting in the natural profile, so the standard will be a little bit more contrasty, more saturation, whereas the natural profile is a little bit flatter but it’s not a log profile, so this gives me some room to color grade, but it’s not forcing me to do an entire color grading session from the log to the look that I want. Finding a kind of muted profile in your camera will help in color grading when you wanna speed things up.
So now that you have your footage, you have to make sure, obviously, it’s exposed properly. There’s lots of tools to do that. I’ll put some links in the description below to some other videos where I talk about the tools to expose properly, but in general, this footage is just a starting point. Normally, you’re not gonna just use this footage, and if you are, you’re gonna use like a standard profile or a profile that you’ve built in your camera that you’ve made purposely to not have to do color grading. So that’s something completely different. So now that we’ve brought the footage into our editing software, there are a few things you need to do before you get into creative color grading.
Ideally what you wanna do is get your footage to Rec709 or like the base look, and so what this means is that you wanna get your contrast and your saturation up to like a baseline and Rec709 is like the baseline color across the industry, across all cameras, and there are LUTs, which is a look-up table, that basically you can apply to log footage which will bring your footage to Rec709. Now, I have a video specifically on that and I’ll link that down below so you guys could check that out, but basically your baseline is where you wanna start. So if you have a log clip, what you’re gonna wanna do is do your initial color grade, your first color grade, and that’s gonna be getting your footage to the baseline, getting the contrast looking good, getting the saturation looking good, and making sure that your footage overall has a general look to it.
Now, from there, then you do creative color grading. So there’s kind of a first pass and a second pass, and most people wanna just get right into that second pass because that’s the fun part, that’s where you create your looks, but ideally, you wanna focus more on this first pass because this is the most important part. So there are some different tools that you can work with to play with your contrast and to play with your saturation, and depending on your editing software, there will be different degrees of tools to allow you to do this.
One of them is curves. So I like using curves because you can draw points on your curve and be able to adjust exposures independently without having to adjust a wide range of your exposures, and so when you look at my curve, basically it’s a straight line to start. When you start, the top of the curve is going to be your whites and the bottom is your blacks, and what you wanna do is bring your blacks either in or your whites in and then create an S on the line, and so with a curve, you add points along, and you drag ’em up and down, and that creates your S.
So as you can see, when I created this S curve, all of a sudden now I have contrast in my footage. Now there are other tools in different editing softwares that allow you to do this. You could just play with your highs, your mids, and your lows and be able to achieve the same kind of contrast. Now, one thing that you should bring up as you’re doing these kind of edits is your Luma Waveform. So your Luma Waveform is basically a way to monitor all the exposures in your shot, and when you bring this up, you’re going to have your highs and your lows, and when you start pushing your exposure around with your curve or with your other contrast tools, you’ll see the different values in this graph move up or down, and so what you wanna do is you have your exposures hit the entire range where your blacks are hitting the bottom and your whites are hitting the top.
Now, keep in mind, the top, the whites, that is overexposure, so if you’re shooting a shot and you’re shooting it in log to preserve the highlights, make sure you don’t push your highlights past that overexposure, and the same thing with the blacks. The bottom is your complete underexposure, so that’s solid black, and so as soon as you start pushing your exposures down there, you’re gonna be getting solid black in your image. So two things to keep in mind, but basically your Luma Waveforms gives you a visual representation of all the exposures in your shot. So it makes a lot easier to do color grading when you watch this. You can see with log footage, it’s flat, it’s right in the center, and you wanna stretch it out.
To stretch it out, you’re gonna bring your blacks in, you’re gonna bring your whites in, and then you’re gonna create an S curve on your contrast, and that’s why I like using the curves because it makes it a lot easier to do this. Now, if you’re using your contrast tools, you’re gonna do the same thing by either bringing down your whites, bringing up your mids or down your mids and your blacks, and that’s gonna be how you play with this. So now that you have your contrast in your image, what you’re gonna wanna do is play with your saturation and bring your saturation levels up. If you’re using log, you’re obviously gonna bring them up higher than if you’re using, say, a natural profile, and you have tools in your editing software to bring up your saturation, and depending on your editing software, you can bring up just your saturation of your lows, your mids, and your highs, or you could just do an overall saturation, but obviously you don’t wanna push this too far and it’s just something to find the taste that works best for you.
Now also, in your first pass of color grading, this is where you’re gonna correct your color temperature if your footage is off. So if you’re shooting at the wrong color temperature and your footage has a, you know, blue cast, a green cast, or an orange cast from different lighting, or just different situations, this is where you’re gonna wanna correct it. So you’re gonna wanna use your color correcting tools to be able to get rid of the color cast, and it might be pulling a color out of your highs, your mids, or your lows. There are tools out there that allow you to adjust the color temperature, but you gotta keep in mind when we’re shooting with most cameras, unless you’re shooting raw, and raw is a very different kind of animal because raw has so much more data, when you’re shooting in like H.264, you’re not gonna be able to push your colors too far without it breaking up. So if you shot something in daylight with tungsten color balance, there’s probably a good chance that you’re not gonna be able to recover it all the way to where you want unless you have a raw camera.
That’s where raw is really powerful. You can do much deeper color grades with a raw camera, however the higher the bitrate your camera is, the more data that you have available, the more that you’re gonna be able to do color grading in your camera. So for the first pass, we adjusted contrast, saturation, we did a color temperature correct if your footage has the wrong color temperature, and now your footage just looks good, it looks like the baseline. That’s kind of where you wanna start with your creative color grading. Now, from here, you do your second pass, and this is where you bring in a LUT or you start messing with the colors to create a cinematic look. Personally, I use LUTs. LUTs are much easier to deal with because they have a burnt-in look, and what you can do is bring a cinematic LUT, for example, here is my LUT, it’s my orange-teal LUT that I created. This is specifically just to create that cinematic orange-teal look. If you guys wanna know more about why this is a cinematic look, I’ll put a link down in the description where I talk about just that look in particular, but this orange-teal look basically is a LUT that’s added on top of my baseline, and what I can do from here is now adjust the intensity of this LUT.
So, when you put on a LUT, it might be too much of that look and it might just make your footage look crazy and way too contrasty or too much in one color, so what you wanna do is bring down your mix or bring up your mix and that allows you to add this kind of style to your footage and only put it at 20, 30%, 40%. It gives you that look but not at full 100%, and now from here, this is where you can start tweaking with your contrast, your saturation, and your colors to really mess with the footage and start playing around with it a little bit more.
This is your second pass of color grading. So ideally, when you’re color grading, you wanna think about it in these stages. You wanna think about your first stage which is getting to your baseline and then your second stage which is creating your look. Like I said earlier in this video, I’ve been using a software called Cinema Grade. So what Cinema Grade has done is basically rethought the entire process of color grading and just made it much easier to work with. So when you bring your footage into Cinema Grade, there are additional stages but it’s set up in this first pass, second pass kind of format where your first pass you go through and you can play with all your sliders as if it’s in Lightroom, so you can play with your high, mids, lows, you can play with your pivots, your contrast, your saturation, you can dive into each of your colors independently, and it feels a lot easier to use.
It’s much more usable than other color gradient softwares, and that’s why I really like it, it’s intuitive. Now, with this, you do your first pass, you get to your baseline. They have an option in the second pass which is shot matching which is amazing when you’re working with shots next to each other, but then in the final color grade, this is why this software is so powerful, not only does it give you all these sliders like a Lightroom style color grading experience, but in your second phase of color grading when you’re coming up with your looks, you can put all your LUTs in here and they also have these cinematic looks, and what happens is you can add these on, it obviously might be too intense when you add on just the single LUT or the cinematic look, but you bring up another set of color grading tools in the second pass and this allows you to change your mix and do all that but then go through all your color grading tools right here and be able to tweak this and make it look that much better.
Guys, this software is incredible. It just came out recently which is why I wanted to share this with you because I bought it as soon as it became available, I really trust this company, I worked with Color Finale for a long time, and this is their newer software. It’s something that has changed the color grading experience, and, guys, just so you’re aware, this video is not sponsored in any way by Cinema Grade, I was not paid to do this video, they didn’t even ask me to make this video, I personally just think that this software is so powerful to create these really awesome cinematic looks in a short amount of time so we can focus on creating awesome content, and we don’t wanna get bogged down, we wanna keep moving forward, and that’s something important about the industry, it’s changing, things are moving fast, and being able to get awesome looks out of your footage in a shorter amount of time makes things so much easier. Alright, guys, that’s it. I hope this gave you some ideas of places to start looking to do your color grade and a flow that makes it easier for you when you approach your footage.
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