Tips For Colour Correction

Whilst there isn’t much for me to work on until the final narrative of the documentary is decided I happened to stumble across an interesting article regarding colour correction. I generally find myself browsing the web concerning colour grading, and with a documentary approach I can appreciate the need to correct the footage before considering any stylisation (if this is still the plan for this documentary).

This article from HurlBlog outlines 7 tips for colour correction, definitely something to pay attention to.

1. Shoot With A Flat Or Log Profile

This is something I discussed with Nathan and Liz prior to filming so that I could get more information from the restricted colour space of the Panasonic 101 camera. As far as I’m concerned I am already covered for this element of colour correction.

2. Trust The Waveform, Vectroscope & Parade Scopes

The waveform represents luminance, vectroscope represents chrominance and the parade for values of the three colour channels: red, green, blue. In my mind this is basic colour grading etiquette, trusting your data over the display monitor (as this technology can vary). Ever since I understood the scopes I’ve dramatically improved my ability and increased the speed I can work at, I’d stress once again the importance of these scopes.

3. Order Of Operations

Stu Maschwitz suggest grading in the following order for best image quality and preservation of information. I can respect his choice in doing this, to some extent I use this type of ordering but I could need more work on following this exact pattern:

  1. Remove artefacts and de-noise.
  2. Balance your shots.
  3. Relight within a shot using power windows or masks.
  4. Add gradients, diffusion and other lens filters.
  5. Add vignettes.
  6. Grade your images.
  7. Simulate a film stock of your choice.
  8. Resize and sharpen.


4. The Fast Colour Correct Effect

This feature relates to Adobe Premier as it allows you in real time to address levels, saturation, balance, etc. The fact I choose to grade in DaVinci makes this advice obsolete under my circumstances.

5. Adjust Your Lift/Shadows/Blacks First

Usually I approach the grade by doing a first pass of nodes purely for addressing luminance before making any changes to colour balance. My option will address black and white levels.

6. Mids Are Where Faces Live

With well shot footage this should always be the case, but in the case of documentary general camera rules can go out the door. The suggestion is to adjust exposure to accommodate and from there address the highs and lows in the image. Ultimately the face should be the focus and take priority before any overexposure or underexposure that occurs when accommodating for it sitting in the mid tones.

7. Look For The Flesh Line On The Vectroscope

Adjusting the hue can ensure the skin tones align with this point on the scope. Through finding natural skin tones everything in the frame will become a natural representation. In the case of wanting a stylised frame I would suggest using the ‘qualifier’ function in DaVinci to isolate the skin tones and ensure they stay natural fleshy tones.


I can appreciate all of these tips regarding colour correction and I think I may try some of these techniques out. It’s nice to know the majority of these tips I already follow evidencing my good practice in this craft skill.


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