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When you shoot a film, or when you shoot an image, you don’t expect the footage right out of the camera to be looking the way you want them to be in the final product. There are still two processes involved in editing that will give you the final product that you have envisioned. These processes are, in this order, correction and grading.
Among the two, correction is the more technical; it’s meant to correct any discrepancies in color that makes the image look unbalanced. Grading, on the other hand, is more of a creative process. It doesn’t aim to correct anything in the color and appearance, but it’s meant to enhance rather than fix.
Now, there are several concepts that go behind color correction. You’d have to understand them in order to do a great job at it. Understanding them will also give you a better grasp at the tools that are there for you to use in accomplishing the job you are working on.
Without further adieu, here are three tools, in addition to the intuitive brightness and contrast, which you can use for correcting the color profile of your raw footage. These are the Saturation, Levels and Curves.
In most tools that you can encounter, saturation is a simple slider that you can move from left to right. Zero is usually the middle value, and moving it to the left means desaturating or reducing the color value of the pixels in an image or footage. Conversely, moving the slider to the right boosts the color value of the pixels, saturating them further.
Visually, the effect is a reduction or a boost in the strength of the colors found in an image or footage, as well as an increase or decrease in brightness.
Levels is yet another application of brightness and contrast. Levels gives you access to an image’s histogram, which tells you a lot about what you need to do in order to color-correct the frame. It consists of two controls: input and output.
The input control typically gives you three sliders: black, gamma and white, in that particular order from left to right. On the other hand, the output slider allows you to adjust only the white and black values of the image, and not the gamma.
It’s better to think of it this way – the output allows you to adjust the brightness, but not the contrast, which is the domain of the input control.
Curves is a more intuitive approach to color-correcting than levels, but their functions are essentially the same. If you want to correct specific colors, then Curves is the one for you because it allows you to edit the RGB values of an image or footage individually, and as one. There are also sliders for input and output values at the bottom and left side of the curve box.
There are more advanced tools that you can use for color correcting aside from these three, namely, the Tracking, Mixers and Masking. They will be discussed in a separate article.
Photo credit : Bill Voelker