Topics

Color grading v. Color correction


Dan Margulis
 

I am wondering if our group has a consensus on what is meant by color grading as opposed to color correction or retouching. The term has become more and more popular in the last decade and there seems to be enormous user interest in learning how to color grade. We are likely to be asked whether we ourselves are capable of doing color grading. It's hard to answer that question if we don't know what the term means.

My limited research suggests that the term is much more likely to be applied to movie or video production than to still photography but whether it can be applied to still photography at all is undecided, as is the question of whether color correction and color grading mean the same thing.

Until this week, my understanding was that color grading refers to the application of a constant visual effect that some might find bizarre to one or more scenes in a video, with the objective of setting mood. Right now, a lot of work involving movies of people is being done in a “teal and orange” style, usually with an approach that usually involves forcing coolness into the shadow and possibly orange into the highlight. This is a very Chevreulish approach, because the teal is more or less the complementary of human skin and may make it seem more attractive.

Teal and orange has become a cliché, yet it is an example of color grading, in my understanding. But that definition has a few holes. If we do the same thing to a single image, is that color grading, too? What if the effect is created by the photographer or videographer, by use of fancy lighting during the shoot? Or, what if the video is shot under uncontrolled lighting conditions and we just want to apply a curve to knock out a cast in the entire clip? Is that color grading, or color correction?

One way or another this topic has enormous interest on youtube. Instructional videos on “color grading” are getting incredible numbers of views, ten to a hundred times more than seemingly equivalent tutorials on “color correction”. In fact, if you look for color correction you’re likely to get something about women’s makeup.

Now, the competing definitions of color grading from some of these postings.

1) Color correction and color grading mean the same thing. So says Wikipedia:

Various attributes of an image such as contrast, color, saturation, detail, black level, and white point may be enhanced whether for motion pictures, videos, or still images. Color grading and color correction are often used synonymously as terms for this process and can include the generation of artistic color effects through creative blending and compositing of different images.

2) They’re the same, but it depends on whether they’re repeated. A tutorial called “Premiere: Color Grading vs. Color Correction” informs us, in a video context, that if we do anything to a single frame, that is a color correction, but if we create a LUT and apply it to multiple frames, then that is color grading. The speaker doesn’t discuss still photography but by logical extension, if you shoot one photo and apply curves to it, that is a color correction, but if you have an extended shoot and apply the same curve to each exposure, that is color grading. I can’t buy this.

3) If it’s Unnatural, it’s Grading. In “Color Correction vs. Color Grading explained,” we are told that grading consists of “manipulating colors in an unnatural way to create a certain look and feel.” The example is applying a cool cast to the entire image but masking out a person who is the subject. 

4) If it’s Natural, it’s a Correction. “Color Grading Basics for Beginners” opines that the function of color correction is to make all clips look “as natural as possible” and to “make sure that all clips match.” Color grading, on the other hand, is to set tone or mood and to create emotion.

5) Correct first, grade afterward. Half a dozen very popular videos show the likeliest way that a non-expert could create the popular look: a Gradient Map adjustment layer set to Overlay or similar mode. This way, we can impart an orange cast to the highlights and a teal one to the shadows. Someone who knows how to tweak the tools can alter the break points, the intensities, and the colors. In “Color Toning in Photoshop with Gradient Map” (yes, another term) the speaker stresses the need to color-correct first before plunging into the Gradient Map morass, which he refers to as color grading. Unlike most of the others, his focus is on photos, not video, as does the next one.

6) Correction tools are limited and non-creative. In “Secrets of Color-Grading in Photography” the photographer, born in Poland and working in Spain, shows exclusively fashion work, with professional female models and a big budget for each shoot. She therefore can spend a lot on unusual cross-lighting for weird, yet attractive effects, and it is clear that she considers this to be color grading, even though no digital file yet exists. Her definition:

Color correction refers to adjusting white and black levels, exposure, contrast, and white balance. To give you an image with accurate unprocessed seeming colors, and to create visual consistency for a series of photographs. Color grading on the other hand is a creative process. It allows you to add a mood, atmosphere and above all emotions to your photos. This effect can be super extreme or very subtle.

In the latter category, in her images of brunettes she tends to move the shadows, including the subject’s hair, toward purple. In the former, she often introduces strongly blue backgrounds against blond models, or puts in an overall cool cast to emphasize the subtleties of their coloring. She has studied painting and color theory a la Chevreul, and is getting good results from it, unlike the others, who parrot the theories without really understanding them.

She is not a Photoshop expert and does most of her work in Camera Raw. Having established some basic parameters she basically twiddles sliders back and forth until she accidentally hits something. Watching her gave me two new ideas about what, perhaps, distinguishes what is known as grading from correcting.

*Color correction can be creative, but it’s rare to do experimentation without knowing the likely result, as when you try to see what happens when all reds are lightened vs. when they are all darkened.

*Color grading, as she uses the term, always produces something that certain people might violently dislike. Color correction, if done properly, doesn’t do that. The viewer may prefer one version over another but is unlikely to be repulsed.

If this is so, then the problem of where color correction ends and color grading begins may be insoluble. Referring back to our last case studies:
1) In Monument Valley, which featured very dull reds, many of us pepped them up, understanding that the colors are no longer “natural.” I would still call it a color correction, but it is clear that if applied to a video, many would consider it color grading.

2) And this one is the clincher: the case study Seated in Grass featured a woman with somewhat red hair. The green background, though clearly grass in context, was totally out of focus. Several of us, including me, took advantage of this and made it a brilliant chartreuse, or in some cases a brilliant emerald color. It set off the hair very well, which was the idea, but it couldn’t possibly be accepted as “natural”. So, unless you subscribe to the view that color grading is only for video, it would seem you have to call these versions of Seated in Grass color grading, yet more conservative renditions would be color correction.

Color grading may well be taking over as the general term for what we do. Does anyone else have an understanding of what the term means?

Dan





jgiatrop2
 

I've just started dabbling with video editing using a program called Davinci Resolve and after hours of youtube tutorials, my understanding is the same as yours was last week - color correction makes things look natural while color grading is the creative application of a certain look to the video clip,commonly achieved by applying LUTS to the video clips (like the teal / orange you discuss)

On Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 4:03 PM Dan Margulis via groups.io <dmargulis=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
I am wondering if our group has a consensus on what is meant by color grading as opposed to color correction or retouching. The term has become more and more popular in the last decade and there seems to be enormous user interest in learning how to color grade. We are likely to be asked whether we ourselves are capable of doing color grading. It's hard to answer that question if we don't know what the term means.

My limited research suggests that the term is much more likely to be applied to movie or video production than to still photography but whether it can be applied to still photography at all is undecided, as is the question of whether color correction and color grading mean the same thing.

Until this week, my understanding was that color grading refers to the application of a constant visual effect that some might find bizarre to one or more scenes in a video, with the objective of setting mood. Right now, a lot of work involving movies of people is being done in a “teal and orange” style, usually with an approach that usually involves forcing coolness into the shadow and possibly orange into the highlight. This is a very Chevreulish approach, because the teal is more or less the complementary of human skin and may make it seem more attractive.

Teal and orange has become a cliché, yet it is an example of color grading, in my understanding. But that definition has a few holes. If we do the same thing to a single image, is that color grading, too? What if the effect is created by the photographer or videographer, by use of fancy lighting during the shoot? Or, what if the video is shot under uncontrolled lighting conditions and we just want to apply a curve to knock out a cast in the entire clip? Is that color grading, or color correction?

One way or another this topic has enormous interest on youtube. Instructional videos on “color grading” are getting incredible numbers of views, ten to a hundred times more than seemingly equivalent tutorials on “color correction”. In fact, if you look for color correction you’re likely to get something about women’s makeup.

Now, the competing definitions of color grading from some of these postings.

1) Color correction and color grading mean the same thing. So says Wikipedia:

Various attributes of an image such as contrast, color, saturation, detail, black level, and white point may be enhanced whether for motion pictures, videos, or still images. Color grading and color correction are often used synonymously as terms for this process and can include the generation of artistic color effects through creative blending and compositing of different images.

2) They’re the same, but it depends on whether they’re repeated. A tutorial called “Premiere: Color Grading vs. Color Correction” informs us, in a video context, that if we do anything to a single frame, that is a color correction, but if we create a LUT and apply it to multiple frames, then that is color grading. The speaker doesn’t discuss still photography but by logical extension, if you shoot one photo and apply curves to it, that is a color correction, but if you have an extended shoot and apply the same curve to each exposure, that is color grading. I can’t buy this.

3) If it’s Unnatural, it’s Grading. In “Color Correction vs. Color Grading explained,” we are told that grading consists of “manipulating colors in an unnatural way to create a certain look and feel.” The example is applying a cool cast to the entire image but masking out a person who is the subject. 

4) If it’s Natural, it’s a Correction. “Color Grading Basics for Beginners” opines that the function of color correction is to make all clips look “as natural as possible” and to “make sure that all clips match.” Color grading, on the other hand, is to set tone or mood and to create emotion.

5) Correct first, grade afterward. Half a dozen very popular videos show the likeliest way that a non-expert could create the popular look: a Gradient Map adjustment layer set to Overlay or similar mode. This way, we can impart an orange cast to the highlights and a teal one to the shadows. Someone who knows how to tweak the tools can alter the break points, the intensities, and the colors. In “Color Toning in Photoshop with Gradient Map” (yes, another term) the speaker stresses the need to color-correct first before plunging into the Gradient Map morass, which he refers to as color grading. Unlike most of the others, his focus is on photos, not video, as does the next one.

6) Correction tools are limited and non-creative. In “Secrets of Color-Grading in Photography” the photographer, born in Poland and working in Spain, shows exclusively fashion work, with professional female models and a big budget for each shoot. She therefore can spend a lot on unusual cross-lighting for weird, yet attractive effects, and it is clear that she considers this to be color grading, even though no digital file yet exists. Her definition:

Color correction refers to adjusting white and black levels, exposure, contrast, and white balance. To give you an image with accurate unprocessed seeming colors, and to create visual consistency for a series of photographs. Color grading on the other hand is a creative process. It allows you to add a mood, atmosphere and above all emotions to your photos. This effect can be super extreme or very subtle.

In the latter category, in her images of brunettes she tends to move the shadows, including the subject’s hair, toward purple. In the former, she often introduces strongly blue backgrounds against blond models, or puts in an overall cool cast to emphasize the subtleties of their coloring. She has studied painting and color theory a la Chevreul, and is getting good results from it, unlike the others, who parrot the theories without really understanding them.

She is not a Photoshop expert and does most of her work in Camera Raw. Having established some basic parameters she basically twiddles sliders back and forth until she accidentally hits something. Watching her gave me two new ideas about what, perhaps, distinguishes what is known as grading from correcting.

*Color correction can be creative, but it’s rare to do experimentation without knowing the likely result, as when you try to see what happens when all reds are lightened vs. when they are all darkened.

*Color grading, as she uses the term, always produces something that certain people might violently dislike. Color correction, if done properly, doesn’t do that. The viewer may prefer one version over another but is unlikely to be repulsed.

If this is so, then the problem of where color correction ends and color grading begins may be insoluble. Referring back to our last case studies:
1) In Monument Valley, which featured very dull reds, many of us pepped them up, understanding that the colors are no longer “natural.” I would still call it a color correction, but it is clear that if applied to a video, many would consider it color grading.

2) And this one is the clincher: the case study Seated in Grass featured a woman with somewhat red hair. The green background, though clearly grass in context, was totally out of focus. Several of us, including me, took advantage of this and made it a brilliant chartreuse, or in some cases a brilliant emerald color. It set off the hair very well, which was the idea, but it couldn’t possibly be accepted as “natural”. So, unless you subscribe to the view that color grading is only for video, it would seem you have to call these versions of Seated in Grass color grading, yet more conservative renditions would be color correction.

Color grading may well be taking over as the general term for what we do. Does anyone else have an understanding of what the term means?

Dan





Nick Dunmur
 

Hi Dan,

Interesting question.

Imho, my view is that a ‘grade’ is a creative process and a ‘correction’ is the process of returning to some set of ‘known‘ parameters (such as simply including a spectrally neutral grey card in an image and using that as the basis for a white balance, for example).

‘Grading’ may also mean bringing imagery from different sources together and bringing the gamut of those varied images in line with each other. They may not be ‘correct’ but they are ‘graded’.

I guess there’s some equivalence between the terms ‘calibration’ and ‘profiling’, perhaps... in the sense that calibration is returning a device to a ‘default’ or preset baseline state and profiling is the process of bringing a device to fit a ‘recipe’ of agreed ingredients (?). (Bit of a mixed metaphor, perhaps...),

Kind regards

Nick

___
dUNMUR | Photographer

On 13 Jan 2021, at 21:03, Dan Margulis via groups.io <dmargulis@...> wrote:

Does anyone else have an understanding of what the term means?


Doug Schafer
 

My view is simple and uncomplicated.
"3) If it’s Unnatural, it’s Grading." = My viewpoint; as well as calling the result an "interpretation"

There is no exact fine-line separating the 2 (correction vs. unnatural/interpretation).  They overlap exists by the thinking of the viewer and calling it what he/she sees and compares to their reality.

Earlier a similar definition problem came about from calling images HDR...some were near normal/corrections and others were dramatically unnatural and plain ugly . . . but served some uses.

Color corrections can be very challenging to accomplish and tools are not particularly limited and often are very creative . . . by converting an image to natural/realism.

Since colors are in the minds of people; then any whole image is also in the minds of people and what is natural or realistic is subject to each persons own reality.

What are we doing when adjusting images from Dan and comparing the submissions? Probably either/both corrections and grading/interpretations. If judged as a correction we can observe correction errors (just plain wrong) but the same image may be a desirable interpretation. It depends on the desired purpose of the image and the person's viewing own self determination/definition/reality/etc.

Doug Schafer


Doug Schafer
 

And one other thought.

Since color grading stems from video/movie production . . . the reasons for color grading are often either technical (to fix coloring to match a desired result) or emotional; in the sense of director trying to set a feeling in the minds of the viewer/audience in a way to alter them from routine daily reality to make the video/movie more "interesting" (or some other feeling like fear, unknown, angry, defensive, spellbound, etc.). 

And it works because it is a 'motion picture' that streams in and out of our minds in seconds or minutes as opposed to 'still images' in which we can spend as much time as desired to study and think about and view under different lighting conditions.

Interpretations/color grading/unnatural 'still images' seem to be aimed at either "art" or advertising.

Doug Schafer


Ronny Light
 

Dan and all,

 

 

No consensus on color grading but a few thoughts about my contact with the term and process.

 

As Jgiatrop2 mentions, my first awareness of color grading was in the cross-platform video editing program DaVinci Resolve. I did some video editing in DaVinci Resolve and took a bunch of paid tutorials from Ripple Training. DaVinci Resolve isn’t the preferred video editing software in Hollywood but it is being used more and more for anything less that a big budget movie. The interesting thing is that the basic version of DaVinci Resolve is free.

 

I first encountered color grading in DaVinci Resolve and, right or wrong, I understood DaVinci Resolve invented or pioneered color grading.

 

It’s true that color correction, LUTs, and color grading share similar outcomes but the tools to get to those outcomes are different.

 

LUTs, Look Up Tables, store changes to color and are most commonly used for videos and movies—a desaturated look, a color cast, etc. The movie industry have used LUTs for years. It’s interesting to see the out-of-camera footage and the final film.

 

Recent versions of Photoshop include LUTs. There are a number of LUTs included or you can save your own. There are many LUTs that can be downloaded for free or bought. So, LUTs are available in a program mainly used for non-video images.

 

The latest version of Photoshop includes Color Grading, so named, in the camera raw adjustments—probably also in Lightroom, which I don’t use. So, again, color grading is available in a program mainly used for adjusting color in non-video images.

 

It is the color grading tools that look and act vastly different from what we had before. Like DaVinci Resolve, there are three circles for shadows, midtones, and highlights, or one view that shows the three circles at one time.

 

Each circle is a color wheel. You can select a point in the color wheel to adjust, for instance, reds, blues, or any other color. You can spin around the color wheel to hone in on a particular color. If you move the adjustment point to the outer side of the wheel, the color is more saturated; if you move the adjustment point toward the center, the color is less saturated.

 

True, you could do the same sort of color changes with the color adjustments we’ve always used or with LUTs, but the new Color Grading tool give you a much more visual look at your adjustments.

 

Since Color Grading now has tools in Photoshop’s camera raw adjustment, even still photographers need to learn how to use the tools. I’ve experimented a number of time using Color Grading on stills. I can’t say it has changed my editing methods but I’m still a newcomer to the tools. Even if you don’t find them immediately useful, using them will change your view about what color adjustments are.

 

 

Ronny

www.RonnyLightPhoto.com

5010 B Wilkerson Dr., Nashville, TN 37211

 

 

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of Dan Margulis via groups.io
Sent: Wednesday, 13 January, 2021 3:03 PM
To: colortheory@groups.io
Subject: [colortheory] Color grading v. Color correction

 

I am wondering if our group has a consensus on what is meant by color grading as opposed to color correction or retouching. The term has become more and more popular in the last decade and there seems to be enormous user interest in learning how to color grade. We are likely to be asked whether we ourselves are capable of doing color grading. It's hard to answer that question if we don't know what the term means.

 

My limited research suggests that the term is much more likely to be applied to movie or video production than to still photography but whether it can be applied to still photography at all is undecided, as is the question of whether color correction and color grading mean the same thing.

 

Until this week, my understanding was that color grading refers to the application of a constant visual effect that some might find bizarre to one or more scenes in a video, with the objective of setting mood. Right now, a lot of work involving movies of people is being done in a “teal and orange” style, usually with an approach that usually involves forcing coolness into the shadow and possibly orange into the highlight. This is a very Chevreulish approach, because the teal is more or less the complementary of human skin and may make it seem more attractive.

 

Teal and orange has become a cliché, yet it is an example of color grading, in my understanding. But that definition has a few holes. If we do the same thing to a single image, is that color grading, too? What if the effect is created by the photographer or videographer, by use of fancy lighting during the shoot? Or, what if the video is shot under uncontrolled lighting conditions and we just want to apply a curve to knock out a cast in the entire clip? Is that color grading, or color correction?

 

One way or another this topic has enormous interest on youtube. Instructional videos on “color grading” are getting incredible numbers of views, ten to a hundred times more than seemingly equivalent tutorials on “color correction”. In fact, if you look for color correction you’re likely to get something about women’s makeup.

 

Now, the competing definitions of color grading from some of these postings.

 

1) Color correction and color grading mean the same thing. So says Wikipedia:

 

Various attributes of an image such as contrast, color, saturation, detail, black level, and white point may be enhanced whether for motion pictures, videos, or still images. Color grading and color correction are often used synonymously as terms for this process and can include the generation of artistic color effects through creative blending and compositing of different images.

 

2) They’re the same, but it depends on whether they’re repeated. A tutorial called “Premiere: Color Grading vs. Color Correction” informs us, in a video context, that if we do anything to a single frame, that is a color correction, but if we create a LUT and apply it to multiple frames, then that is color grading. The speaker doesn’t discuss still photography but by logical extension, if you shoot one photo and apply curves to it, that is a color correction, but if you have an extended shoot and apply the same curve to each exposure, that is color grading. I can’t buy this.

 

3) If it’s Unnatural, it’s Grading. In “Color Correction vs. Color Grading explained,” we are told that grading consists of “manipulating colors in an unnatural way to create a certain look and feel.” The example is applying a cool cast to the entire image but masking out a person who is the subject. 

 

4) If it’s Natural, it’s a Correction. “Color Grading Basics for Beginners” opines that the function of color correction is to make all clips look “as natural as possible” and to “make sure that all clips match.” Color grading, on the other hand, is to set tone or mood and to create emotion.

 

5) Correct first, grade afterward. Half a dozen very popular videos show the likeliest way that a non-expert could create the popular look: a Gradient Map adjustment layer set to Overlay or similar mode. This way, we can impart an orange cast to the highlights and a teal one to the shadows. Someone who knows how to tweak the tools can alter the break points, the intensities, and the colors. In “Color Toning in Photoshop with Gradient Map” (yes, another term) the speaker stresses the need to color-correct first before plunging into the Gradient Map morass, which he refers to as color grading. Unlike most of the others, his focus is on photos, not video, as does the next one.

 

6) Correction tools are limited and non-creative. In “Secrets of Color-Grading in Photography” the photographer, born in Poland and working in Spain, shows exclusively fashion work, with professional female models and a big budget for each shoot. She therefore can spend a lot on unusual cross-lighting for weird, yet attractive effects, and it is clear that she considers this to be color grading, even though no digital file yet exists. Her definition:

 

Color correction refers to adjusting white and black levels, exposure, contrast, and white balance. To give you an image with accurate unprocessed seeming colors, and to create visual consistency for a series of photographs. Color grading on the other hand is a creative process. It allows you to add a mood, atmosphere and above all emotions to your photos. This effect can be super extreme or very subtle.

 

In the latter category, in her images of brunettes she tends to move the shadows, including the subject’s hair, toward purple. In the former, she often introduces strongly blue backgrounds against blond models, or puts in an overall cool cast to emphasize the subtleties of their coloring. She has studied painting and color theory a la Chevreul, and is getting good results from it, unlike the others, who parrot the theories without really understanding them.

 

She is not a Photoshop expert and does most of her work in Camera Raw. Having established some basic parameters she basically twiddles sliders back and forth until she accidentally hits something. Watching her gave me two new ideas about what, perhaps, distinguishes what is known as grading from correcting.

 

*Color correction can be creative, but it’s rare to do experimentation without knowing the likely result, as when you try to see what happens when all reds are lightened vs. when they are all darkened.

 

*Color grading, as she uses the term, always produces something that certain people might violently dislike. Color correction, if done properly, doesn’t do that. The viewer may prefer one version over another but is unlikely to be repulsed.

 

If this is so, then the problem of where color correction ends and color grading begins may be insoluble. Referring back to our last case studies:

1) In Monument Valley, which featured very dull reds, many of us pepped them up, understanding that the colors are no longer “natural.” I would still call it a color correction, but it is clear that if applied to a video, many would consider it color grading.

 

2) And this one is the clincher: the case study Seated in Grass featured a woman with somewhat red hair. The green background, though clearly grass in context, was totally out of focus. Several of us, including me, took advantage of this and made it a brilliant chartreuse, or in some cases a brilliant emerald color. It set off the hair very well, which was the idea, but it couldn’t possibly be accepted as “natural”. So, unless you subscribe to the view that color grading is only for video, it would seem you have to call these versions of Seated in Grass color grading, yet more conservative renditions would be color correction.

 

Color grading may well be taking over as the general term for what we do. Does anyone else have an understanding of what the term means?

 

Dan

 

 

 

 


Kent Sutorius
 

I agree with giatropolous.  LUTS are saved color grades basically RGB values taken from an image and their values changed into new RGB values. There are many types of LUTS but I am more familiar with viewing LUTS. The tint you see in a movie in the cinema. Sometimes they are used to try to period date a movie. Remember when digital movies first came out. People screamed that it didn't look like film. Today's digital cameras record logs - common ones are S-Log and Log-C. They capture great tonal information but are similar to negative film. Without application of color grading (LUT) the image will look washed out and flat. The LUT brings back all the tonal and color properties. LUTS are also transform a television look to a cinematic look.


On 1/13/2021 4:17 PM, jgiatrop2 wrote:
I've just started dabbling with video editing using a program called Davinci Resolve and after hours of youtube tutorials, my understanding is the same as yours was last week - color correction makes things look natural while color grading is the creative application of a certain look to the video clip,commonly achieved by applying LUTS to the video clips (like the teal / orange you discuss)

On Wed, Jan 13, 2021 at 4:03 PM Dan Margulis via groups.io <dmargulis=aol.com@groups.io> wrote:
I am wondering if our group has a consensus on what is meant by color grading as opposed to color correction or retouching. The term has become more and more popular in the last decade and there seems to be enormous user interest in learning how to color grade. We are likely to be asked whether we ourselves are capable of doing color grading. It's hard to answer that question if we don't know what the term means.

My limited research suggests that the term is much more likely to be applied to movie or video production than to still photography but whether it can be applied to still photography at all is undecided, as is the question of whether color correction and color grading mean the same thing.

Until this week, my understanding was that color grading refers to the application of a constant visual effect that some might find bizarre to one or more scenes in a video, with the objective of setting mood. Right now, a lot of work involving movies of people is being done in a “teal and orange” style, usually with an approach that usually involves forcing coolness into the shadow and possibly orange into the highlight. This is a very Chevreulish approach, because the teal is more or less the complementary of human skin and may make it seem more attractive.

Teal and orange has become a cliché, yet it is an example of color grading, in my understanding. But that definition has a few holes. If we do the same thing to a single image, is that color grading, too? What if the effect is created by the photographer or videographer, by use of fancy lighting during the shoot? Or, what if the video is shot under uncontrolled lighting conditions and we just want to apply a curve to knock out a cast in the entire clip? Is that color grading, or color correction?

One way or another this topic has enormous interest on youtube. Instructional videos on “color grading” are getting incredible numbers of views, ten to a hundred times more than seemingly equivalent tutorials on “color correction”. In fact, if you look for color correction you’re likely to get something about women’s makeup.

Now, the competing definitions of color grading from some of these postings.

1) Color correction and color grading mean the same thing. So says Wikipedia:

Various attributes of an image such as contrast, color, saturation, detail, black level, and white point may be enhanced whether for motion pictures, videos, or still images. Color grading and color correction are often used synonymously as terms for this process and can include the generation of artistic color effects through creative blending and compositing of different images.

2) They’re the same, but it depends on whether they’re repeated. A tutorial called “Premiere: Color Grading vs. Color Correction” informs us, in a video context, that if we do anything to a single frame, that is a color correction, but if we create a LUT and apply it to multiple frames, then that is color grading. The speaker doesn’t discuss still photography but by logical extension, if you shoot one photo and apply curves to it, that is a color correction, but if you have an extended shoot and apply the same curve to each exposure, that is color grading. I can’t buy this.

3) If it’s Unnatural, it’s Grading. In “Color Correction vs. Color Grading explained,” we are told that grading consists of “manipulating colors in an unnatural way to create a certain look and feel.” The example is applying a cool cast to the entire image but masking out a person who is the subject. 

4) If it’s Natural, it’s a Correction. “Color Grading Basics for Beginners” opines that the function of color correction is to make all clips look “as natural as possible” and to “make sure that all clips match.” Color grading, on the other hand, is to set tone or mood and to create emotion.

5) Correct first, grade afterward. Half a dozen very popular videos show the likeliest way that a non-expert could create the popular look: a Gradient Map adjustment layer set to Overlay or similar mode. This way, we can impart an orange cast to the highlights and a teal one to the shadows. Someone who knows how to tweak the tools can alter the break points, the intensities, and the colors. In “Color Toning in Photoshop with Gradient Map” (yes, another term) the speaker stresses the need to color-correct first before plunging into the Gradient Map morass, which he refers to as color grading. Unlike most of the others, his focus is on photos, not video, as does the next one.

6) Correction tools are limited and non-creative. In “Secrets of Color-Grading in Photography” the photographer, born in Poland and working in Spain, shows exclusively fashion work, with professional female models and a big budget for each shoot. She therefore can spend a lot on unusual cross-lighting for weird, yet attractive effects, and it is clear that she considers this to be color grading, even though no digital file yet exists. Her definition:

Color correction refers to adjusting white and black levels, exposure, contrast, and white balance. To give you an image with accurate unprocessed seeming colors, and to create visual consistency for a series of photographs. Color grading on the other hand is a creative process. It allows you to add a mood, atmosphere and above all emotions to your photos. This effect can be super extreme or very subtle.

In the latter category, in her images of brunettes she tends to move the shadows, including the subject’s hair, toward purple. In the former, she often introduces strongly blue backgrounds against blond models, or puts in an overall cool cast to emphasize the subtleties of their coloring. She has studied painting and color theory a la Chevreul, and is getting good results from it, unlike the others, who parrot the theories without really understanding them.

She is not a Photoshop expert and does most of her work in Camera Raw. Having established some basic parameters she basically twiddles sliders back and forth until she accidentally hits something. Watching her gave me two new ideas about what, perhaps, distinguishes what is known as grading from correcting.

*Color correction can be creative, but it’s rare to do experimentation without knowing the likely result, as when you try to see what happens when all reds are lightened vs. when they are all darkened.

*Color grading, as she uses the term, always produces something that certain people might violently dislike. Color correction, if done properly, doesn’t do that. The viewer may prefer one version over another but is unlikely to be repulsed.

If this is so, then the problem of where color correction ends and color grading begins may be insoluble. Referring back to our last case studies:
1) In Monument Valley, which featured very dull reds, many of us pepped them up, understanding that the colors are no longer “natural.” I would still call it a color correction, but it is clear that if applied to a video, many would consider it color grading.

2) And this one is the clincher: the case study Seated in Grass featured a woman with somewhat red hair. The green background, though clearly grass in context, was totally out of focus. Several of us, including me, took advantage of this and made it a brilliant chartreuse, or in some cases a brilliant emerald color. It set off the hair very well, which was the idea, but it couldn’t possibly be accepted as “natural”. So, unless you subscribe to the view that color grading is only for video, it would seem you have to call these versions of Seated in Grass color grading, yet more conservative renditions would be color correction.

Color grading may well be taking over as the general term for what we do. Does anyone else have an understanding of what the term means?

Dan






sj_90000@...
 

My understanding is that “grading” was originally used in film production to create a consistent color for the inter-positives created from master negatives, needed because of the result of inconsistent film stocks and development. But now it seems to relate to any “correction” that is applied across multiple images, still or motion, to conform to a predetermined “look”.
 
Steve


Michael Colby
 

When  you use color gradients in photoshop to achieve a “look” that is a form of “color grading.”  Just not doing it with the precision of newer “color grading” tool and/or apps.

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of sj_90000 via groups.io
Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2021 3:13 PM
To: colortheory(IO) Group Moderators <colortheory@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Color grading v. Color correction

 

My understanding is that “grading” was originally used in film production to create a consistent color for the inter-positives created from master negatives, needed because of the result of inconsistent film stocks and development. But now it seems to relate to any “correction” that is applied across multiple images, still or motion, to conform to a predetermined “look”.

 

Steve


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Michael Colby
 

Grading was originally the digital equivalent of “color timing” for “digital masters” scanned from movie film. It is now the a process used significantly to create a consistent, predetermined by the director, film’s designer and film editor to achieve a specific “look, specific use of colors in various tones.

 

 

https://sites.google.com/site/worldofvisualeffects/color-timing---correction---grading

 

From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of sj_90000 via groups.io
Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2021 3:13 PM
To: colortheory(IO) Group Moderators <colortheory@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Color grading v. Color correction

 

My understanding is that “grading” was originally used in film production to create a consistent color for the inter-positives created from master negatives, needed because of the result of inconsistent film stocks and development. But now it seems to relate to any “correction” that is applied across multiple images, still or motion, to conform to a predetermined “look”.

 

Steve


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Jim Sanderson
 

I can see after reading the various opinions on this subject why there is a lot of ambiguity as to the definition of correction v grading....

Jim Sanderson 


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Colby <mcolby@...>
To: colortheory@groups.io
Sent: Wed, Jan 13, 2021 3:43 pm
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Color grading v. Color correction

When  you use color gradients in photoshop to achieve a “look” that is a form of “color grading.”  Just not doing it with the precision of newer “color grading” tool and/or apps.
 
From: colortheory@groups.io <colortheory@groups.io> On Behalf Of sj_90000 via groups.io
Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2021 3:13 PM
To: colortheory(IO) Group Moderators <colortheory@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [colortheory] Color grading v. Color correction
 
My understanding is that “grading” was originally used in film production to create a consistent color for the inter-positives created from master negatives, needed because of the result of inconsistent film stocks and development. But now it seems to relate to any “correction” that is applied across multiple images, still or motion, to conform to a predetermined “look”.
 
Steve

Virus-free. www.avast.com


David Baud
 

Hello Dan,

Long time lurker here… First I’d like to thank you for this forum and bringing together so many interesting background in one place… and your sharing of couleurs !

I might be able to bring some light to your question… Let me introduce myself briefly: I am a colorist and finishing editor working in the film and television industry for more than 30 years. I am a member of the Colorist Society International and a DaVinci Resolve certified trainer. I am french and based in Colorado, and started to work professionally for the broadcast television in the late 80s in Paris. At the time I started editing film (16mm mostly) using flatbed editor. With a computer education background, I started working as an editor full time in the early days of non-linear video editing. Moving fast forward, with the advent of new software and cameras, I started to get interested in color correction in the digital world in the early years of 2000. Today I am now working as a colorist using DaVinci Color software primarily. My job is part of the post-production workflow in a film. I work mostly on documentaries for television and feature films for movie theater release, for the USA and European markets.

Now to your question, here is what the colorist and author Alexis Van Hurkman has to say in his book the Color Correction Handbook (Peachpit Press 2014):
“Color correction versus color grading: at one time color correction was the description given to color work on video, while [color] grading was the term applied to the process of color timing motion-picture film.”
Today with film and video cameras merging to digital, this distinction has changed.

I would also add that I believe the terminology has been used differently depending on the country. In France we use a completely different term for the same process, “étalonnage", which the meaning is more related to the origin of color correction from the film era. People in the film era were called color timers (related to still photography development) the job involved skills and understanding of photo-chemical process. Color timing was the process of balancing the color and density of the film, and had to deal with light, exposure and film emulsion.
Moving forward in time, with the advent of television broadcast in the 1950s, the telecine was invented : it allowed to transfer film footage to video signal (live first and recorded later to tape). This was the beginning of color correction for film/video and compared to today's technology it was a crude process. Today movies that are still originating from film print (only a few film labs exist, and big film manufacturers stopped producing film rolls), most of the time they will be scanned to be color graded in a digital format (digital intermediate or DI) 

Sorry for this short summary, but this is to give you an idea of the evolution of color correction/grading in our industry.

Let me try to address some of your comments:

On Jan 13, 2021, at 2:02 PM, Dan Margulis via groups.io <dmargulis@...> wrote:
I am wondering if our group has a consensus on what is meant by color grading as opposed to color correction or retouching. The term has become more and more popular in the last decade and there seems to be enormous user interest in learning how to color grade. We are likely to be asked whether we ourselves are capable of doing color grading. It's hard to answer that question if we don't know what the term means.

I believe, just like for still photography, this interest has increased with the democratization of video editing. In the 1990s, to be able to edit and color correct videos for television, you would need to have an editing suite with equipments adding up to million of dollars. Today you can edit professional videos for a fraction.

As a colorist, I usually like to be involved as much as possible early on in the film project before filming start. Discussion with the director (vision of the film), the director of photography (responsible for the camera department and lighting) in order to understand and talk about the best way to capture a specific mood (color) for the scenes.

My workflow on a film would start by analyzing the footage (camera origination, file format (codec), color space). I also need to understand what is the delivery medium of the finish film/video: if working for television broadcast for example, we have to deliver a file format that is compliant with international standard (i.e Rec.709 standard for HD delivery) Each standard defines a specific color space and gamma (i.e P3  and 2.6 gamma for movie theaters). Part of our job is to make sure that our grade not only meet the creative intent of the director but also comply with the specific standards. For that purpose we use a video reference monitor calibrated for the intended color space and gamma.

Usually the first part of my work is color correction, the technical aspect. Normalizing a shot from a raw or log format (similar to developing a negative print to positive). Then balancing the shot to place the black, mid-level and white to a pleasing level. Because we are working on moving images, this need to be adjusted overtime, for the clip duration. Following steps include matching shots: edited shots in a timeline may have been recorded in different time and locations. Brightness, exposure and color temperature has to be adjusted accordingly so that it does not disturb the story. Finally I would focus on the color grading which might involved secondary color corrections: the frame is decomposed in areas where we want to bring the attention for the viewer. Scenes might get a special color treatment to specify a mood, a time or location. 

Being part of this group I realize that there are many overlaps in our work and still photograph retouchers. I guess the big difference is that we are working with motion illusion: from 30 frame/seconds in North America, to 25 frame/seconds in Europe, and 24fps for movies. Usually the frame size resolution is still limited compared to still photography: most video projects are still done in HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), but more and more in 4K resolution (UHD 4096 x 3840 pixels), and starting in 8K

My limited research suggests that the term is much more likely to be applied to movie or video production than to still photography but whether it can be applied to still photography at all is undecided, as is the question of whether color correction and color grading mean the same thing.

Until this week, my understanding was that color grading refers to the application of a constant visual effect that some might find bizarre to one or more scenes in a video, with the objective of setting mood. Right now, a lot of work involving movies of people is being done in a “teal and orange” style, usually with an approach that usually involves forcing coolness into the shadow and possibly orange into the highlight. This is a very Chevreulish approach, because the teal is more or less the complementary of human skin and may make it seem more attractive.

It is true that the “teal and orange” look is very popular but I would argue it is just “a look” and certainly not representative of all the movies that are produced. When you watch an era movie, rarely you will see that look used. If we try to understand how a specific look is chosen for a movie (feature film), I would say it has a lot to do with the director choice and her/his cultural origin, and influences. I believe the best color graded film are the ones that are planned from the early stage, including wardrobes selection, lighting setup, location, camera selection, makeup for the actors… and color grading.

Teal and orange has become a cliché, yet it is an example of color grading, in my understanding. But that definition has a few holes. If we do the same thing to a single image, is that color grading, too? What if the effect is created by the photographer or videographer, by use of fancy lighting during the shoot? Or, what if the video is shot under uncontrolled lighting conditions and we just want to apply a curve to knock out a cast in the entire clip? Is that color grading, or color correction?

To me, directing and lighting are essentials to make a movie look great. With natural lighting the best time of the day is the golden hour. Without these ingredients, color grading is more difficult to get right in the first place.

One way or another this topic has enormous interest on youtube. Instructional videos on “color grading” are getting incredible numbers of views, ten to a hundred times more than seemingly equivalent tutorials on “color correction”. In fact, if you look for color correction you’re likely to get something about women’s makeup.

I believe you talked in the past about the importance of color references. Skin tones is something as a colorist I have to watch carefully because anybody can see if this look right or not. Just like the green color of the grass or the blue sky. We as human have common color references. Maybe this is the attraction for people to work with color?

I hope this help a little. 😉

Cheers,

David Baud


Kirk West
 

Very interesting reading all the comments. Personally I have been aware of Color Grading as a result of Audio Visuals.  This entailed the use of still images being used as a group to tell a story. To give the AV the correct feel it is important to have the same “feel” to the images so people tried in effect to color grade. AV work can be seen as a very basic form of video as transition from one image to another is reasonably rapid and can even create an illusion of movement. So yes I can see why moviemakers are prominent users of color grading. I do see a need for color grading of stills such as use of images for a magazine article, so that the images do not clash with one another, some of this could however easily be achieved by color correction as often all we would need is the same sort of warmth to all the images to be used.

 

Kirk West

 

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

 

From: Dan Margulis via groups.io
Sent: 13 January 2021 23:03
To: colortheory@groups.io
Subject: [colortheory] Color grading v. Color correction

 

I am wondering if our group has a consensus on what is meant by color grading as opposed to color correction or retouching. The term has become more and more popular in the last decade and there seems to be enormous user interest in learning how to color grade. We are likely to be asked whether we ourselves are capable of doing color grading. It's hard to answer that question if we don't know what the term means.

 

My limited research suggests that the term is much more likely to be applied to movie or video production than to still photography but whether it can be applied to still photography at all is undecided, as is the question of whether color correction and color grading mean the same thing.

 

Until this week, my understanding was that color grading refers to the application of a constant visual effect that some might find bizarre to one or more scenes in a video, with the objective of setting mood. Right now, a lot of work involving movies of people is being done in a “teal and orange” style, usually with an approach that usually involves forcing coolness into the shadow and possibly orange into the highlight. This is a very Chevreulish approach, because the teal is more or less the complementary of human skin and may make it seem more attractive.

 

Teal and orange has become a cliché, yet it is an example of color grading, in my understanding. But that definition has a few holes. If we do the same thing to a single image, is that color grading, too? What if the effect is created by the photographer or videographer, by use of fancy lighting during the shoot? Or, what if the video is shot under uncontrolled lighting conditions and we just want to apply a curve to knock out a cast in the entire clip? Is that color grading, or color correction?

 

One way or another this topic has enormous interest on youtube. Instructional videos on “color grading” are getting incredible numbers of views, ten to a hundred times more than seemingly equivalent tutorials on “color correction”. In fact, if you look for color correction you’re likely to get something about women’s makeup.

 

Now, the competing definitions of color grading from some of these postings.

 

1) Color correction and color grading mean the same thing. So says Wikipedia:

 

Various attributes of an image such as contrast, color, saturation, detail, black level, and white point may be enhanced whether for motion pictures, videos, or still images. Color grading and color correction are often used synonymously as terms for this process and can include the generation of artistic color effects through creative blending and compositing of different images.

 

2) They’re the same, but it depends on whether they’re repeated. A tutorial called “Premiere: Color Grading vs. Color Correction” informs us, in a video context, that if we do anything to a single frame, that is a color correction, but if we create a LUT and apply it to multiple frames, then that is color grading. The speaker doesn’t discuss still photography but by logical extension, if you shoot one photo and apply curves to it, that is a color correction, but if you have an extended shoot and apply the same curve to each exposure, that is color grading. I can’t buy this.

 

3) If it’s Unnatural, it’s Grading. In “Color Correction vs. Color Grading explained,” we are told that grading consists of “manipulating colors in an unnatural way to create a certain look and feel.” The example is applying a cool cast to the entire image but masking out a person who is the subject. 

 

4) If it’s Natural, it’s a Correction. “Color Grading Basics for Beginners” opines that the function of color correction is to make all clips look “as natural as possible” and to “make sure that all clips match.” Color grading, on the other hand, is to set tone or mood and to create emotion.

 

5) Correct first, grade afterward. Half a dozen very popular videos show the likeliest way that a non-expert could create the popular look: a Gradient Map adjustment layer set to Overlay or similar mode. This way, we can impart an orange cast to the highlights and a teal one to the shadows. Someone who knows how to tweak the tools can alter the break points, the intensities, and the colors. In “Color Toning in Photoshop with Gradient Map” (yes, another term) the speaker stresses the need to color-correct first before plunging into the Gradient Map morass, which he refers to as color grading. Unlike most of the others, his focus is on photos, not video, as does the next one.

 

6) Correction tools are limited and non-creative. In “Secrets of Color-Grading in Photography” the photographer, born in Poland and working in Spain, shows exclusively fashion work, with professional female models and a big budget for each shoot. She therefore can spend a lot on unusual cross-lighting for weird, yet attractive effects, and it is clear that she considers this to be color grading, even though no digital file yet exists. Her definition:

 

Color correction refers to adjusting white and black levels, exposure, contrast, and white balance. To give you an image with accurate unprocessed seeming colors, and to create visual consistency for a series of photographs. Color grading on the other hand is a creative process. It allows you to add a mood, atmosphere and above all emotions to your photos. This effect can be super extreme or very subtle.

 

In the latter category, in her images of brunettes she tends to move the shadows, including the subject’s hair, toward purple. In the former, she often introduces strongly blue backgrounds against blond models, or puts in an overall cool cast to emphasize the subtleties of their coloring. She has studied painting and color theory a la Chevreul, and is getting good results from it, unlike the others, who parrot the theories without really understanding them.

 

She is not a Photoshop expert and does most of her work in Camera Raw. Having established some basic parameters she basically twiddles sliders back and forth until she accidentally hits something. Watching her gave me two new ideas about what, perhaps, distinguishes what is known as grading from correcting.

 

*Color correction can be creative, but it’s rare to do experimentation without knowing the likely result, as when you try to see what happens when all reds are lightened vs. when they are all darkened.

 

*Color grading, as she uses the term, always produces something that certain people might violently dislike. Color correction, if done properly, doesn’t do that. The viewer may prefer one version over another but is unlikely to be repulsed.

 

If this is so, then the problem of where color correction ends and color grading begins may be insoluble. Referring back to our last case studies:

1) In Monument Valley, which featured very dull reds, many of us pepped them up, understanding that the colors are no longer “natural.” I would still call it a color correction, but it is clear that if applied to a video, many would consider it color grading.

 

2) And this one is the clincher: the case study Seated in Grass featured a woman with somewhat red hair. The green background, though clearly grass in context, was totally out of focus. Several of us, including me, took advantage of this and made it a brilliant chartreuse, or in some cases a brilliant emerald color. It set off the hair very well, which was the idea, but it couldn’t possibly be accepted as “natural”. So, unless you subscribe to the view that color grading is only for video, it would seem you have to call these versions of Seated in Grass color grading, yet more conservative renditions would be color correction.

 

Color grading may well be taking over as the general term for what we do. Does anyone else have an understanding of what the term means?

 

Dan

 

 

 

 

 


John Gillespie
 

I can add some additional information to David Baud’s post that may provide further insight and also be of general interest. Apologies if it is a bit long.

For a brief time I worked for Rank Cintel, at the time the market-leading manufacturer of telecines. I say market leading, at that time (1988-1992) it was a near monopoly.

I suppose the telecine (TK) is to TV what the drum scanner is to print. The TK scans the film (positive or negative) and turns it into a TV broadcast signal. Originally this was a real-time process. The reels of film are loaded into the TK and run through the scanner mechanism (either a “flying spot” CRT or a CCD) with the output fed directly into the on-air broadcast signal.

As well as scanning the film, the TK solves other issues in film-to-TV conversion, such as frame rate (24fps vs 25/30 for PAL/NTSC), aspect ratio (including “pan and scan” for widescreen movies), registration, dust and scratch removal, film grain reduction – and exposure/colour correction.

Initially the “correction” controls were quite basic and the interface entirely analogue using joysticks but over time computer technology was used to create controllers for the TK which allowed for a more sophisticated approach. As videotape technology improved it was then possible to transfer film to tape allowing for a “non-linear” grading/editing process. You can see how this worked in the video in this article: https://www.adapttvhistory.org.uk/16mm/telecine/

Note that the phrases correction and grading are used fairly interchangeably.

As the technology became more sophisticated (e.g. the da Vinci controller mentioned by David) the opportunity to use “correction/grading” for artistic purposes arose. This was at first driven by the advertising industry. Prime TV adverts in those days were often the most expensive things shown in terms of production costs per second. The “post-production” industry took off, centered in London, New York and Los Angeles. The advert would be shot on film then sent to the post-production house for transfer via the TK, under the control of the “colourist” who would “grade” the shot to achieve the required “artistic” effects. Here is a prime example, a (in)famous advert for a cheap chocolate bar : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AATTN5p30A and pretty much the most spectacular colours you would see on your TV screen in those days. The best colourist were (and still are) in very high demand and attracted a premium price for their services to “grade” your film, which sounds like a lot more expensive activity that “correcting” it.

It seems to me that there are four distinct but related activities: Adjusting a signal to make it comply with expected or required parameters (e.g. range, contrast, colour balance), amending a signal to fix gross errors, enhancing a signal to increase its perceived attractiveness, and changing a signal to fit with a pre-planned scheme. The terminology of correcting/grading/calibrating is used to cover all these activities with no great precision.


Paco
 

I understand LUTs to be the color corrections/modifications that cinematographers assign to specific scenes during preproduction or during a film or video shoot so that they can be looked up by colorists and applied in post production.

Whereas we, as commercial photographers or lab technicians strive to normalize a scene, cinematographers, as in the example given by Dan, modify the colors in order to create a mood to help the story telling.

Maestro Alessandro Bernardi who studied with Dan has made a career of this and conducts seminars to teach this art.

All the best!

Paco


jorgeparraphotography
 

Dan and Gang, I will try to go point by point to explain my opinions on the natter and avoid s super long reply:

1- As seen from someone who has been doing Artwork reproduction for galleries and collectors for years, several books have been published with the images of those paintings/sculptures/mix media, etc and having had not a single complaint about a single image, I can clearly say that applying color corrections imply you are going to start by neutralizing the colors in the images. After testing several methods, I have concluded that the most time-effective way to do this by using the Custom White Balance tool in the camera, of course before capture, and this way you run what in science is called an internal calibration, you tell the camera chip what is actually neutral grey ( you provide your system with a known value in your target, in this case, a digital grey card) under the specific lighting conditions you are using to shoot, THis way,  the capture chip "understands" what is a neutral grey,  and then, most of the colors will fall in place and render properly, therefore, no apparent hues are detectable. You may need additional adjustments for specific colors, contrast, etc, but the starting point for a properly color-corrected image is a neutral image.

The idea is the same when shooting fashion garments, hair products ( dyes) and cosmetics, and many other fields where proper color rendering has to be THE subject.

2- it follows that Grading, a term coming from the movie industry, is the application of hues, curves and color variants to define a mood or style ( the most basic one is to use overly warm tones to showcase happiness and blue/purplish tones for the opposite). There is more of a marketing buzz about this, since the movie industry use LookUp Tables ( LUTS) for that while in photography you can also use LUTS in Adjustment Layers, ( BTW, this is not new, LUT's appeared in Photoshop ages ago) but the marketing thing has re-branded several "packages" of Color Presets as Color Grading, so you will find both free and paid color grading tools ( presets) for Lightroom, Capture One, Photoshop, etc which you can even apply during capture or later in Post. The goal -always- is to generate a mood that implies modifying the neutrality of the image with the goal of engaging the viewer in an emotional process on behalf of the story in the image/movie.

3- You can barely render colors properly in Artwork of Beauty using LUT's or Color Presets. That simple! The first step in Color Grading is to get away from neutrality.

4- When I brought the matter of teal and orange the subject did not bring much traction back in the summer, but here is a funny and critical view of the Teal and Orange mega trend, viewed as a lack of creativity in the movie industry. This is a very short clip so enjoy... As others said, once you realize it, you will begin to see it happening everywhere on the TV and in movies. It is almost annoying.!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14kE2jxIVFQ

5- If you are in the mood for viewing, I would strongly suggest that you take a look at a Russian TV series on Netflix, called  "Better than Us", a science-fiction story with human robots, but the relevance here is how the cinematographer managed to stay out almost all the time of the teal and orange American style, so their color palette is exquisite yet devoid of the overly boring Eye-Candy approach, and work visually more under the influence of great  Russian directors like Tarkovsky ( who was a photographer before becoming one of the greatest DIrectors ever). You can see amazing yet subtle color grading and end up wanting to see more movies and images like these.

6- Just to set the record straight, Adobe had to catch -up with Phase One ( Capture One) in terms of adding those color wheels, since Capture One has been, way back since version 7, around 2012,  capable of running color corrections and "gradings" at the RAW  processing stage, just like no other Raw processing program. Whatever Adobe is doing now is just entering the game very late, and taking advantage of the "Color Grading Marketing Buzz", to make it look like the latest of the latest in image processing.  DaVinci Resolve is the equivalent of Capture One in the movie industry. They do much better Color processing than any previous video editing suite and they are doing it since forever.

So at least in my head, and for the sake of my clients, I will stay in "Color Correction Mode" when I NEED to render the critical colors of an image properly, so what you have on the screen, prints as close as possible to identical, AND the printed image barely differs from the original, a process I know for a fact, very few shooters can do properly, and then, Color Grading is the lazy art of using some color Presets, LUTS, filters and what have you, to "enhance " the subjective look of images that can be off-color. 

PS: Dan, can you pls point to the fashion shooter you mentioned in your text? THX!

Jorge Parra




--
Jorge Parra 
www.jJorgeParraPhotography.com
Miami


Dan Margulis
 



On Jan 14, 2021, at 9:17 AM, jorgeparraphotography <jorgeparraphotography@...> wrote:


PS: Dan, can you pls point to the fashion shooter you mentioned in your text? THX!


Dan


David Baud
 

I believe one of the reason that we see more and more color correction done for video is directly link to the evolution of video cameras.
For a long time video cameras would give you a video signal “ready to be viewed “ on your regular video monitor (with standard definition (SD) in the US, it was NTSC standard or Rec. 601 standard or PAL/SECAM in Europe).

Today cameras will give you the option to record a video signal ready to be viewed on a regular monitor (for HD Rec. 709) or you can choose to record a wider dynamic range and color space video. Usually the latter option means you need to record RAW or log, a technique allowing to capture more information from the camera sensor. Any RAW or log video will need color correction before you can watch the intended colors on your regular monitor.

David Baud


On Jan 14, 2021, at 3:37 AM, Kirk West <west.kirkwood@...> wrote:

...So yes I can see why moviemakers are prominent users of color grading.


David Baud
 

Hi John - I am sure you know that Blackmagic Design bought Rank Cintel a few years ago and designed the Cintel scanner.
I believe there is still a big market for digitizing/scanning old movies to the latest digital video flavor: sensors are becoming better at capturing/recording high dynamic range information. Again after that process there is a need for color correction/grading and restauration.

David Baud

On Jan 14, 2021, at 4:53 AM, John Gillespie <john@gillespie.me.uk> wrote:

For a brief time I worked for Rank Cintel, at the time the market-leading manufacturer of telecines. I say market leading, at that time (1988-1992) it was a near monopoly.

I suppose the telecine (TK) is to TV what the drum scanner is to print. The TK scans the film (positive or negative) and turns it into a TV broadcast signal. Originally this was a real-time process. The reels of film are loaded into the TK and run through the scanner mechanism (either a “flying spot” CRT or a CCD) with the output fed directly into the on-air broadcast signal.
As well as scanning the film, the TK solves other issues in film-to-TV conversion, such as frame rate (24fps vs 25/30 for PAL/NTSC), aspect ratio (including “pan and scan” for widescreen movies), registration, dust and scratch removal, film grain reduction – and exposure/colour correction.


David Baud
 

Hi Paco - In my work we tend to refer to 2 types of LUTs: the technical LUT and the creative LUT.

The technical LUT can be used at different stages of production in order to quickly see what your RAW/log footage looks like on a graded monitor without having to to do any color corrections. More and more monitors allow you to load a LUT. This a fix color transform with a specific matrix precision (1D LUT to 3D LUT). You can also buy a LUT box that will connect to a monitor (usually via HDMI connector) in order to apply a specific LUT to a video signal.

The creative LUT can also have different usages. Like you mentioned it can be used to communicate between film departments in order to convey the look the director/dp wants for the film. Remember color grading a film might happen sometimes a year after the film shoot is completed! In this case the creative LUT allows to make sure the look of the film is not lost in time even so changes might be made at the time of the color session. With new color workflow from production to post-production such as the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), I believe creative LUT will be more and more useful in production.

Another use of creative LUT (what people are most familiar with) is to apply a look to your footage. Businesses providing creative LUTs are very popular because a lot of people want a quick solution to make their footage look like the latest block buster movie. What most people do not realize is that you need to have the right clip and “a good base” before applying your LUT otherwise you might be disappointed with the result!
In my color work I rarely use creative LUT other than for reference because by nature they are “destructive”, meaning any color correction applied after the LUT will be limited by the matrix transform apply on the original footage. Especially if you are working with RAW or log footage you might quickly limit the possibility of color grading a particular shot if you have a LUT applied.

David Baud

On Jan 14, 2021, at 5:38 AM, Paco <paco@...> wrote:

I understand LUTs to be the color corrections/modifications that cinematographers assign to specific scenes during preproduction or during a film or video shoot so that they can be looked up by colorists and applied in post production.