5 tips to becoming a pro at Color Correction. Tip 4 is the easiest! May 08 2014
Any good video editor will know how imperative color correction is to making your project pop.
However...if you’ve just read that and your mind is frantically screaming “What? How imperative?!”, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
In this post we’ll be covering our top 5 tips on how you can be a pro at color correction in no time!
Firstly, let’s go back to basics – what exactly is color correction?
Color correction is the process where you make adjustments to the color and contrast of footage in your video. It involves tweaking every clip in your footage to provide a good level of exposure, not to mention matching color temperatures between different shots.
Though sometimes tedious and time consuming, color correction is an important step in any video editors workflow, and many consider the process an art form in that it transforms footage beautifully and artistically when done well.
In video editing, you mostly use color correction to:
• Fix moments when video footage is too dark or too bright.
• Emphasize the appearance of some elements over others.
• Even out the color or contrast of different footage so that they all look consistent (as if shot in the same place at the same time).
• Adjust the appearance of footage for a stylized effect.
Basics covered! Next step – being awesome at Color Correction!
Assuming you’ve got the concept of color correction down-pat, we’re got our top 5 tips on how to be a pro at color correction!
1. In the words of Nike… Just Do It!
If you’re ever tossing up between color correcting your footage or not color correcting, let’s make this simple. Just do it! Don’t make the mistake of thinking everything looks fine and dandy on your monitor only to render your project and find your shots look flat and dull.
You’ll soon see that when there’s an opportunity to color correct, it’s more than likely that doing so will improve your image, rather than take away from it. A slight color curve adjustment might be all that it takes, and will no doubt freshen up your footage!
2. Monitors make light work
You don’t really need that new massage chair that you’ll use twice. How about saving that money and investing in what you DO need - a good monitor to review your glorious handiwork!
If you’ve been wondering why your video looks top notch on your monitor, but noticed that the colors are frustratingly slightly out when you watch it on a different device (tv / ipad / laptop), here’s 4 words to solve your problem: Get A Pro Monitor!
Investing in a good monitor that will display the image as how it ACTUALLY looks is one of the most important things you can have as a video editor. We’re talking Pro Monitors that can be calibrated so that your blacks look black and your whites look white, so you don’t have to worry about outside influences such as room lighting is or how tired your eyes are! If you don’t have the funds to invest in a monitor, you can still make-do with viewing your project on several different devices and tweaking colors accordingly, however if you’re tight for time, this may be an issue. We recommend saving up some cash and invest in a monitor which will save you time and stress in the long run!
3. First you twist it, then you dunk it
Like the old Oreo ad implied, there is a series of steps for some tasks that you need to follow to get the best results. The same applies to video editing.
Color correction should occur toward the end of your post-production workflow, after the edit is locked down and confirmed. This is because it saves time and effort on re-correcting a project based on changes made to the original sequence. This is especially important if you are planning on adding effects to your edit - the last thing you want to do is add an effect, realize the color is out, and have to jump back a couple of steps in your edit to fix the color.
4. Take a break
If you strain any body part for hours on end, it’s going to start getting tired – and this is no different with your eyes. Over time, your eyes adjust to color, and usually this is OK; the differences in colors slightly merge or change, and you don’t notice when a color is slightly off. If you’re working on a word document, this doesn’t affect you at all – however if you’re in the middle of color correction, it’s a pretty big issue.
Take some time away from your project every hour or so to rest and refresh your eyes. Whether it’s a coffee break, toilet break, or wistful gaze out the window – it doesn’t matter. When you’re done, go back and look at your work - you might notice a couple of color inconsistencies that you’ll kick yourself for not picking up sooner.
5. Check… and then double check
Don’t settle for one monitors version of your color grade – check on as many different monitors you can find. Consider your devices such as mobiles, televisions, laptops and tablets - each will have a slightly different version of how your edit looks, and it will help to get to know what to expect.
If you don’t have a calibrated monitor this is particularly important, however even if you do, it’s probably best to get into the habit of double checking your edit before finalising.
Color correcting is an unmissable step in your video editing workflow...
so make sure you dedicate the time, energy and resources towards the process. By incorporating it into your workflow from the start, you can save hours of time in the long run, whilst also creating videos that are more aesthetically consistent across your project.
Do you have any other tips to share on color correction? We’d love to hear from you!