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Color Grading

Lesson 31 from: The Cinematic Filmmaking Workshop

RJ Bruni

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Lesson Info

31. Color Grading

Lesson Info

Color Grading

(mellow intro music) So now let's talk about color. You see a lot of people online selling LUT packs and presets and all that stuff. And what I want to show you here is that it doesn't take a LUT to get an awesome color grade. Honestly, I think it takes more work, changing a LUT for a look that somebody made for a different camera and a different scene. Takes more effort to change that than it does just to make our own. So let's dive in to our film and we'll start to break down how we can build our look and color grade our film. Okay. So I'm going to color grade this one scene at a time. I'm just gonna do this forest scene with you and just give you a good idea how I match shots and build the look. So we're gonna be working off of this adjustment layer. And what we're gonna do is we're just gonna break it up. Probably this is still the traveling scene. So the part of our actual mining scene starts, I would say right there. So let's break this up here. And I would say the end would be...

right before we get into... It'll come back. So we'll figure that out later. But the end will be right when we get to the photos. So I'm just gonna do these few clips with you and it'll give you a good idea about how I work. So first thing's first, we have a very long looking profile. So we're actually shot in raw. If we go into the source of our clip here, we can see our color temperature and our tint and our exposure and our color space that we're in right now in Cinema Gamut Canon Log Two. That's all fine and dandy. Most of you won't be shooting in log and that's fine. All of this applies the same. So first thing is we want to get out of log. That's the biggest thing. So for me, this is the one time where I do use a LUT and it's not for a look, it's just to get out of log. I use a conversion LUT that converts my Canon Log Two, which is log, to rec 709 color space. And that's just a color space that I can work out of that already has the contrast and saturation that I desire. So what I'll do is open my adjustment layer and I downloaded this LUT that is pre-installed. I'll turn this adjustment layer on. So basically, this is what I was seeing out of the camera. I had this LUT turned on on my camera as well, so it made it easy to shoot. I've got tons of these LUTs downloaded. This is the one I pretty much always use. And I think it might come stock from Canon or somebody might have created it specifically for these Canon cameras. But I would just encourage you to find a LUT that converts your footage to rec 709, and then you can kind of color grade from there. So that's what we've done so far. There's other options here as well, but this is the one that I like to work out of. So, looks good. We've got some good color. Yeah, some really good color. It looks pretty much like we were looking at it on our screen, because we had this LUT on our camera. But it looks amazing. And we haven't even made a look yet. This is literally just the proper saturation and contrast. So a couple things that I usually do is I want to go for a bit of a colder feel. I know that. So I think the image is a little bit too warm. It's a moody, rainy day, so I want to go for a cold feel. So let's start off in our color wheels. So first thing's first, I usually like to bring... What I'm creating right now is just a few tips and tricks that gives me a nice film look that I desire, just the preferences that I've come to love over the years. So usually I like something like this where I want a colder feel. I'll bring a little bit of blue in the highlights. You can see her nose is starting to change. It's okay. Then I want a little bit of dark and that blue was more on the greener side. Here, we're going a little bit more on the shadows. We're going a little bit more towards the purple side. Then our mid tones, let's go a little bit more orange. So that's gonna keep the color in our face. Okay, cool. We just have a little bit of blue in the shadows here. That's awesome. So one trick that I think works really well is I love bringing my highlights down, bringing my shadows down. Not quite crushed but close, and then bringing my mid tones up to compensate. This is just a look that I really enjoy. I think it starts to replicate film quite a bit. Gives us almost some good dynamic range. And then here I'll just go a little bit cooler in my highlights. Really starting to dig that look. Yeah. So let's see before and after with the color wheels. This is before, this is after. Lost a little bit of skin tone, so might bring that back and some orange. Yeah, I really like that so far, greens are looking better. Cool. Let's go into our curves. We have some stuff that's pre-made. Let's just delete all this. So now in our curves, what we're going to be doing, one trick that I like is to bring our mid tones up slightly and then our highlights down and just adjust our shadows accordingly. Cool. I'm really starting to like those extra shadows. You can see we have this black letter box that gives us an idea of what black looks like and our shadows aren't quite at black, which is good. I'm not loving the color of the green. They're still a little bit too orange for me. So what I'm gonna do here is I'm gonna take this color picker and highlight our greens. Awesome. I'm gonna take the color picker again, highlight our greens with the hue. So I'm gonna change the hue and make it closer to blue than to yellow. Widen it out a little bit. There we go. Now we're starting to get these awesome greens that I love. And then I'm actually gonna take the saturation down. Cool. I'm starting to really like this image. Let's just see before and after our curves. Before, after. Awesome. I love the look of this so far. It's looking a little bit more in the blue side of things which is what we want, a little bit less green. Loving this. Or else, awesome. So let's just go into our source of this clip and see if we can take the color temperature down a little bit. If it gives us a little bit more of a blue feel. There we go. I like that. We still have some color in her face. So here's before, here's after. I honestly really love that look. So the beauty of this is we have in our adjustment layer and we can still, we can actually preview the other clips right here as well. So this is great. So what I'm gonna do now is our look is already on here. What's wrong with it? Probably a little bit too warm. Want a cooler feel. This clay, I don't want it to look brown, I want it to look gray. So I'm going to change the color temperature, which if you didn't shoot in raw, it's important that you get your color temperature right, or closer to what you want and then you'd have to adjust it from here, which will be deteriorating the image a little bit. But luckily, I'm in raw, so I have the luxury of changing color temperature. I'm gonna go a little bit cooler. It's a little bit bright. You can see your skin's a little bit bright. Oh, nice. Nice. I'm loving the way this is looking. The before and after is kind of crazy. Oh man. So good. Yeah. I love the way her skin looks nice. The gray of the clay looks fantastic. Okay. So here we go. Oh no. So here we go on this one. This is again, I'm loving the look of the image. The greens look good, our shadows and our highlights, they look awesome. This one, I might just go a little bit darker. Adjust our exposure here. Yeah. But as you can see, the blue in here, nice, matches well with this. That matches well, and this one, too orange, so we've got LUTs of orange going on in her face. So we're gonna adjust our color temperature as well. Might adjust our tint because we're a little bit... The green. This one's looking a little bit orange, still. Very cool. Very blue looking image. That's what I was going for. I could honestly get away with just a little bit cooler as well. Awesome. Okay, I'm loving the look of this. A very cool blue looking image. This one, I might have to work on a little bit. Seems like we're getting a little bit too out of control over here. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna find the balance of our grays, where our grays match. So now they're too warm. So probably right there. Now they're too green. Here we go. Yeah, that's better. And then our skin tone, it's just very saturated right now. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to go into our curves. I'm just gonna take down our saturation here. I am not a technical colorist. I kind of just do what looks good to me, you know? And for the most part it works out. But yeah, I'm loving, I like the work, I like the look of this. Just want to get the saturation right on her skin. Awesome. So this is a great, great looking scene. So, I'd be happy with this. Okay. So this is just a look that I created for this film and you don't have to replicate this exactly. These are just some of the tools that I use and sometimes I push it further, sometimes I want to get more of a vintage look and I push the highlights to more blue and the shadows, maybe I'll go warmer instead of cooler. I'm definitely not telling you to copy this. I want you to take away from this is that color grading doesn't have to be the most complicated thing where you have to spend money on presets. Just slowly take it piece by piece, get to a good color space like rec 709. You can work out of that. And then after that, it's just about slightly adjusting your color wheels and you can use my highlights and shadows idea where we crush our highlights, bring them down, bring our shadows down and level it out with mid tones. It's a great tool, kind of replicates film a little bit. That'll get you on your way. But even this image, we can continue to push it even further, if we want, like we can dive right back into this here and if we want, we can bring our highlights even more and then we can bring our shadows or mid tones up and then we can, if we want, we can even go take away the warm shadows. That's a little bit too warm. We can give more of a look if we want and we can keep pushing it. Highlights, we just keep going. See, it's looking a little bit green, so we'd probably want to correct that eventually. Maybe we go back into our tint. Yeah, there we go. That's also another good look. Little bit warmer, a little bit more vintage feeling, but, no way's right or wrong, it just has to match the story that we're trying to tell. So I hope that you take a few of these tools into your film and try to imagine what you want the colors to look like beforehand. For me, it was a little bit blue, a little bit moodier in the forest, and it didn't take much to achieve that look. So take a few of these tools into your own short film and I'm excited to see what your films end up like.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Live Lesson: Feedback and Q&A Session with RJ
RJ's Final Film | SHARED EARTH
Email Questionnaire
Project Breakdown
Scene Breakdown
Creative Deck

Ratings and Reviews


I LOVE this workshop - I have been wanting to film my own 'home life' movies as I am a photographer but I wanted to add even more memories. This workshop has added so much value to how, why, when, and what the process is of film-making for film-making. Thanks to RJ for sharing all his amazing information while being clear, precise, and informative. I am excited to film my next 'home life' film!

Alex Bocajj

Great insights into Rj's process. Really enjoyed it all. Rj is smooth and easy to learn from. Loved the "in-field" BTS and going thru the motions live. Looking forward to more material.

Patti Sohn

Really informative and inspiring. One of the best video tutorials I have watched.

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