What is Color Grading? The Artistic Color of Hollywood Films – A Basic Introduction.


Film. Hollywood. If you’re aspiring to make your own movie,
these two words immediately come to mind. Achieving the look of a Hollywood film requires
more than just the knowledge of how to use a camera. It’s a complex recipe that blends technical
knowledge, camera techniques and editing to get the final product. And today, we’re going to look at one of
the editing techniques used in this process – Color Grading. Once you’ve learned how the settings in
your camera affect the base look of your film, by getting away from the ultra-realistic look
of automatic mode, and into the cinematic realm that is manual mode, one of the next
steps you will take to push your footage to stand out, is the art of color grading. It’s an artistic flare, and artistic addition,
that will set your mood and atmosphere of the scenes in your movie. It begins with color correction, and ends
in a stylistic choice, known to us as the color grade. Every movie you watch in the digital age has
some form of color grading, which allows the audience to connect to a certain feeling or
emotion, depending on the choice of colors that make up the scene. Color grading can also create contrast in
a scene that doesn’t require you to have shadows everywhere. By using opposite colors on the color wheel,
you can create separation of certain objects from the background and draw the viewer’s
attention to what’s important. A common choice for doing so is the ever popular
teal and orange color grade. Since all skin tones lie upon an area near
orange, we can push the midtones toward orange, and the shadows and highlights can be pushed
towards teal. This will make our characters stand out because
they are opposite colors on the color spectrum, creating color contrast. However, this isn’t always the best look,
and would look strange in a night time scene, where everything tends to have a cooler blue
look. Hollywood uses color to change how a scene
can feel in many different aspects, such as the time of day, the emotion of the characters,
or to convey a specific space or area. For example, in the matrix, they used two
different color grades to separate the areas of simulation from reality, using heavy green
tones when we are in the matrix and a cooler, more neutral grade for all the time spent
in the real world. Zootopia uses lots orange tones for its warmer
heartfelt scenes and then a mix of blues in the mids and shadows during its sadder moments
to make you feel cold and isolated. You can also use color grading to change the
time of day. I can take this cooler, early morning shot
and push it hours ahead, closer to sunrise. You can do this to save time shooting so you
don’t have to shoot one scene in the morning and then wait several hours to shoot the next
scene. you can shoot everything at one time and then
shift everything to feel like it’s a different day or hour even if it wasn’t originally. There are no hard set rules, and some movies
will use warm tones for disastrous moments. It’s up to you to carry the vision of the
film in a direction that works best for you when deciding on a grade. Part of color grading also involves exposure
and contrast values, although it isn’t mentioned as much since it isn’t included in the term
“Color Grading”. For example for a few shots that I’ve done,
I have either brightened or darkened scenes to match them up to how I thought they should
feel for the end result. I wanted this shot to be a warm sunset, yet
still have a grimey and gritty feel, so the darker tones would pull it to be more subdued
and less vibrant and happy. Here’s what the original footage looked
like before I color graded it. I could have pushed it to feel more glowy
and happy, like it looked to my naked eye in person, but that’s now how I wanted it
to feel. There’s one thing for certain when making
your own films. There are no hard set rules, use other films
for guidance, and then push it to be your own style and craft. If there were only one way to do it, we’d
just have robots make our movies. My name’s Shawn Michael Jordan, this is
route1reels, and I hope to see you next week.

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