What’s up guys, Sagi here and welcome to another Tech Gear Talk. Today I’m going to show you how to color grade your footage in order to give it a cinematic look! A few weeks ago I published a tutorial that showed you step by step, what you need to do in order to get cinematic looking footage with the Canon SL2. And I got a ton of comments, questions and requests asking me to publish a color grading tutorial. If you haven’t watched the original tutorial yet, I very much suggest that you watch here because some of the things I’m going to cover today might not make sense, or aren’t going to work for you, if you haven’t followed those steps. So assuming you’ve got nice flat footage to work with, let’s get going.
Most of the time people use color correcting and color grading interchangeably, but that not exactly right – they are actually two different processes. Color correcting is usually done first and it means we’re trying to make the footage look exactly the way the human eye sees things. We try to get the white and the black levels to match what we actually saw when we shot the video and the other colors normally balance out as a result. Color grading, which comes second is where you get to introduce a creative aesthetic look to your video and it’s a great way to convey a certain mood or visual tone.
To me, from a cinematic perspective, ungraded footage has somewhat of an unfinished look. It’s not that it’s bad, but it could take the video to a whole new level. It’s the same as a photo – I never post a photo straight out of the camera, there is always a layer of editing that helps elevate the final product. There is a lot that goes into color correcting and color grading and like any aspect of video, you get better at it the more you do it. And the best part is that it’s another layer of creativity. You don’t need to worry about what someone else is doing, you can learn to make your footage look the way you want it to look. I’m going to use Adobe Premiere Pro, because that’s what I use to edit my videos, but these same principles will work Final Cut Pro, Davinci Resolve, or any other professional editing software.
I’m going to use this clip where Christie is walking in outside wearing a dark coat on a snowy day. I picked it because these are pretty challenging conditions to shoot in. But, luckily, we used a flat color profile so we’re good to go.
Now we are going to move to color grading and we can do things manually or we have the option of using a LUT. If you don’t know what a LUT is, it stands for Look Up Table which is essentially a way for you to create a certain look, and then export it as a file so that you can re-use it without having to start from scratch every time. This is going to save you a ton of time. There are a ton of luts out there, some of them are excellent and some of them are absolutely terrible. I put together a free LUT pack and you’ll find a link to it in the description. It’s a nice and easy way to get started. Today I’m going to be using my LUTs from my Alpha Cine pack. I combined some of my favorite LUTs, and these are the ones I use when I’m color grading video. You can get them if you’re interested in taking the next step or if you just don’t feel like wasting a ton of time scouring the internet. You get my favorite 10 LUTS for $19 so it’s less than $2 LUT which is more than worth it for the amount of time it saves you, but that’s just me. Ok, let’s go.
Talk about how it’s way too strong which will depend on your footage. This is where we can use the Intensity slider and bring it down to what we like. For a cinematic color grade you don’t want to be heavy handed with your grading because it’s going to end up being distracting. It’s important to make subtle adjustments to the point where unless someone is “into video” they might not even be able to articulate what you did, but they will notice that they like the footage better. Now in the color correction stage, we made adjustments to the highlights and shadows but we were more focused on the exposure, now we’re going to play with the color tones. We can drop the shadows for a more moody look. Raise the mid-tones so we’re not losing details in the darker areas. Alright so now let’s look at the final clip, here is the before… and here is the after.
There is quite a dramatic difference because we started with a super flat color profile but that gave us the flexibility we wanted when it came to color correcting and color grading. We made sure not to overdo our grading and I think the results look pretty good. And this is an evolving aspect of video for me. I’m constantly experimenting with new looks and techniques, and I’m super interested in seeing workflows from other creators and then adapting it into my own style. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re interested in downloading the free LUT pack, I’ve got a link in the description, and if you want to step things up a big and grab a really inexpensive collection of my favorite LUTs I’ll have a link to those as well.
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