What’s the difference between colour correction and colour grading?

Once a video has been shot and edited the final stage is to make sure that all the shots match and if required add a mood or feel. These two very distinct stages, colour correction and colour grading, are incredibly important and take the production to the next level.

Lets take colour correction first

Colour correction is a task carried out in the majority of video productions. It is the process where we change various aspects of a shot, such as colours, contrast and brightness to name just a few. This ensures that each shot matches so the viewer doesn’t find it jarring when watching the final video. This is one of many ways to tell if a video has been produced professionally or not. When filming in a studio colour correction is less important because everything is controllable, you don’t have to worry about the sun or clouds changing the colour temperature and brightness of a shot.

Colour Grading

Colour grading can be a great part of the video production process because you can change the feel of the video just by tinkering with the colour temperature, saturation, contrast and loads more which I won’t go in to. You can use blue tones to create a feeling of uncertainty like they do in the Saw franchise, or green tones can make a film look unearthly such as in The Matrix. Lord of the Rings is a particularly famous and rich hunting ground for colour grading techniques because each of the locations are graded differently, the shire is over saturated, Mordor is very contrasty with red tones and Gollum’s home is very blue and stark to help mimic his character.

Colour grading examples

Below are a few examples of colour grading being used in Hollywood.

First up we have Sin City, I tried to find a clip that wasn’t too graphic yet still illustrated my point, however, I failed so apologies in advance!

This clip shows how strongly the film has been graded, it’s been given a very stylized look that at the time was very unique. They have increased the contrast so the difference between the shadows and highlights are very strong and they have pick out certain colours to help pull your attention to different parts of the screen. In this case it’s the blood but in other scenes they have used the characters eyes.

The second example is the modern film Argo, it has been made to look like the time the story is set in, the 1970’s.

The final example is Black Hawk Down. This is a very complex film with a very complex colour grade. The film is set in two distinct locations, Africa and the US Army base in Africa so this instantly gives a lot of scope for colour manipulation. The scenes outside of the base have been coloured in a tobacco brown hue to reflect the dingy and dangerous place it is in the movie whilst the US Army base is high tech so has been coloured with a teal tint so help reflect this. As the movie progresses and the US Army start winning the war the teal tint begins to take over the tobacco brown to help reinforce this.

This has been a very quick overview of two very complex processes but I hope you can see their importance and power when telling a story. Even though these have been fictional examples they can be translated across to corporate videos to help engage the audience and get your message across.

If you would like to find out more on this subject or anything else about video production please get in touch with Will or Andy.

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