Colour Grading - What's That All About?
16 July 2010
When we've finished shooting your video, the collective processes called post-production kick in. One thing you'll often see mentioned in our production plans is colour grading.
We perform colour grading to ensure that clips in your video have the same appearance. Often, especially when filming in different locations or at different times of day, the colour of an object or person can vary widely from one shot to the next. It's a common mistake of amateur film makers and is often caused by not setting the white balance of the camera correctly.
White balancing is basically where you tell the camera what true white should look like given the current lighting conditions (by zooming onto a white object such as a shirt or sheet of paper and pressing the white balance button, if one exists). Once the camera knows what true white is, it can work out what all the other colours should look like. Of course, the camera needs to be white balanced every time the lighting conditions change, such as when the sun gets lower in the sky, or when the action moves from a room with fluorescent lights to a room lit with incandescent bulbs. If you don't white balance every time the light changes, your footage ends up all over the place, colour-wise. Even when we've colour balanced every time, variations can still creep in from one shot to another and, left unchecked, this makes for a somewhat jarring viewing experience. We minimise that variation as far as possible by colour grading after the event, i.e. in post production.
We can also use colour grading to established a desired look and feel for your video - sometimes extreme! Check out the Lenovo/Brune Park video case study for an example of some fairly extreme colour grading.
Whether you notice it or not, colour grading is performed on almost 100% of shots in your video. It's an essential part of the process, regardless of the quality of the original footage. When used to create a special look and feel we think it gives your video a special appearance that raises it above some of the more pedestrian videos we see every day on the web.