I sometimes get asked – what’s the difference between colour correction and colour grading? Can’t I just slap on a LUT (Look Up Table) and be done with it?
In some circumstances, perhaps you can. But that would be doing a disservice to the footage you’ve painstakingly gone to great lengths to create. Even with the best DoP (Director of Photography) producing perfectly exposed shots there will alway be an opportunity to enhance certain elements within a frame.
Perhaps a face needs a little more light, or the colour in a talent’s eyes need to brought out more. Maybe part of the frame – or a specific object in shot – inherited an unwanted colour cast and that needs to be aligned to the rest of the frame. This is where Colour Correction comes in.
Colour Correction is a technical process that fixes colour issues, such as exposure (under or over), colour temperature, undesired colour shifts, or using ‘dodging and burning’ techniques to bring out, or hide specific parts of each shot. The goal of this process is to make footage appear as natural and consistent as possible across the film.
Colour Grading also a technical process, but its goal is to transform footage into a consistent, creative vision as the director intended. Colour Grading can add emotion, atmosphere, colour treatments and can radically change the entire colour palette used on a film. The grading process can transform day shots in to night shots, or change summer scenes to winter scenes. Grading takes advantage of colour theory to persuade your audience to feel the way you’d like them to feel.
Colour Grading is typically done once colour correction is complete.