Colour grading has so many potential looks, it is one of few mediums where you can get away with pretty much anything as long as its justified. There is no right or wrong, simply what suits the eye of the beholder (within reason!). Two very common grades that you are likely to use are ‘Black & White’ and ‘Teal’.
Black & White
If you want to make a film black and white it is recommended you shoot it in colour and then convert it in the grade during post production. The reason for this is the additional colour information allows you to control all the tones of grey, so for example you can create warmer greys in the skin tones as opposed to having blacks, whites, and muggy greys. Consideration will have to be made with colour on set as certain colours will appear very similar when converted into greyscale. I definitely agree that this method is better as you have full control over the black and white image as the original colour metadata can still be read. Below is an example from recent Oscar nominated film ‘Nebraska’ (2013).
- Add new node
- RGB mixer button
- Mono button
- Adjust individual channels (red/skin tones whiter)
The teal look has become extremely popular in British television recently, the purpose of this is to add a teal wash to the background in order to make the subjects pop out of the frame (as the skin tones complement teal tones). Below is an example from Channel 4’s ‘Embarrassing Bodies’.
These are just two examples of common looks you can achieve with colour grading. You can just about create any look to a film you want, it is the case of experimenting with filming techniques and palettes to find the best possible colour. If you already know how you want the final film to look definitely make a note for when you are out filming on set, for example if you are making it black and white it is likely you will use more lighting on set when compared to filming for colour output.