Color grading is a very important part of the post-production process, but many amateur film producers ignore this vital step. Color grading (sometimes referred to as color correction) is the process of adjusting the light balance and color in your video in order to maximize contrast and create visual appeal.
Videos that aren't color graded often appear washed out and amateurish — unfortunately, this can negatively impact the way your films are perceived by viewers. If you're not manually color grading your film footage, read on for three excellent reasons to start.
1. Color Allows You to Set the Mood of a Scene
In films, color is very important for setting the mood of a scene — even old black-and-white films were commonly tinted in order to influence viewers' mood. If you're not color grading on footage, then you're missing out on this important aspect of producing films. Colors can be muted to give scenes an otherworldly feel or to make them more vibrant and contrasting to create viewer interest.
2. Color-Graded Films Are More Attractive to Potential Viewers
When you're trying to attract viewers to your films on internet video sites or social media, they're often limited to only seeing a tiny thumbnail image of your film. Fine details can be missed, but the color of your film won't — it's instantly eye-catching to viewers.
Professional film production companies all color grade their films, and most viewers can recognize a film that's undergone the color grading process even if they're unaware of what color grading even is. When you color grade your amateur films, they appear more professional and are more likely to attract viewers.
3. Color Grading Is Easier Than Ever for Amateur Film Producers
Color grading was once the domain of professional colorists working at feature film companies. It was a lengthy process that required editing color curves shot by shot, which put color grading out of the reach of amateur film producers — it simply took too long to properly color grade film footage.
However, color grading is easier than ever with the availability of color grading plug-ins (such as Cinema Grade) that can integrate with your favorite film editing software. You can quickly edit the colors in your footage and instantly see the results on your screen, which makes the process of color grading much faster and easier for amateur filmmakers.
If you'd like to get started with color grading, you'll need to do two things. The first is to shoot all of your footage in flat or raw mode — most digital cameras have this feature. This disables all of the in-built color correction provided by the camera, which often interferes with the manual color grading process.
Next, you'll need to download color grading software in order to edit your video and adjust its colors. Color grading is a learning experience — don't be afraid to experiment and have fun with the process while you're editing your videos. Once you're comfortable with color grading, you'll be able to easily give all of your footage a professionally produced quality.