Sunday, 15 August 2010

Red Letters - The grading process

I'll write my second blog in two days - a 1st I think.


Yesterday I started reading my sister's blog - this story in particular broke my heart -

Testimonies of God's goodness - especially when its your sister's story, builds my faith in a way I've never experienced before.

All that to say - read it - especially if you know here.

Details on pics above:

1. Final AE session
2. MBL grade screenshot
3. Ungraded screenshot
4. Ungraded screenshot
5. Ungraded screenshot

By the way - I chose look #2 from one of the previous posts

I am writing this because there are quite a few people who have asked me about color correction on this piece and on some of the other pieces. Here's how I typically go about it.

I'd usually jump into after effects before almost anything else [before music, before edit etc]...i'd play around with a clip from the film I'm going to work on and get a few grades going as tests - usually i'd create and save about 3 to 4 presets.

Then i'll do the music
The the edit
Then back into after effects to do the grade and balancing of shots
Then final grade plus tweaking

Let me here define - " balancing of shots'

Typically i'd have 4 adjustment layers at the top of my AE session - all with their respective grades - only one at a time - sometimes I'll change the opacity of one of the other ones to come thru slightly but this hardly happens.

Underneath I would have all the clips - broken down into their various layers. Some clips just don't match - either they differ because the one is way darker or lighter than the other, but often there is a tonal difference, that goes beyond just too light, too dark. It often has to do with the 'brightness of the shadows' and cannot be corrected with just an exposure adjustment. You need to adjust GAMMA as well. I would usually add an 'Exposure' affect on the layer of the footage that I want to balance and work the exposure control along with the GAMMA control to adjust each shot in line with the rest of the footage.

This I find has helped tremendously!

If I wanted gradients in the sky - or vignettes then I would add them onto the individual footage using a blank Magic Bullet Looks 'Canvas' with just a grad or vignette added.

So I usually color correct a video as a whole and balance the shots underneath the final look [one of the top four layers in my After Effects Session] - best to do this in After Effects as you can work in Layers

The best way to get the best grade and look for whatever you are working on is to control the colors on the shoot. Think wardrobe - set design...all that jazz.

I'd love to post my MBL preset for the film here - but don't think its possible


  1. Interesting... I use a similar workflow with respect to establishing a look/atmosphere first and then start editing instead of the traditional approach of editing and then color correcting. I like how you play with typography as well to add another layer. Oh, and the awesome sound design of course :-) Keep up the good work. Have been enjoying these blog posts!

  2. Thanks a lot for posting this, I really appreciate when people can share their workflow, then I can get a feel of how other people are achieving their grades and take away some of the knowledge.

    It's really helpful. You're extremely talented man, keep it up. You rock

  3. Hi, i really loved your blog but can u make a tutorial showing these effects ?? or can you give me references to how to make such a beautiful work and thanks :)