Colour correcting/grading


I have been looking into the style of colour grade we would like our final animation to have. I found some nice references on Andrews blog, The first a video by fed ex and the second stills from the Maleficent film. The colour grade of the fed ex trailer is what I think we should aim to achieve for the day time shots and the Maleficent still has a nice grade for the final campsite and nighttime scenes. The reason I like the grade on the fed ex trailer is the very saturated colours combine nicely with the cgi elements in making the forest look more magical. It also has a very high contrast and the background is blurred which gives the shot more focus on the characters in front and adds to the depth of the shot.


The fed ex trailer has been treated very similar to the Hisense ULED trailer we have been using as inspiration throughout the project. The high detail foreground and blurred backgrounds and high saturation and contrast are definitely a nice look for the forest.

Some further research into colour grading led me to Tim Burton who uses colour to change the tone of a film. I found an article that was very interesting which gave examples of the change of colours throughout some of his best known films. A notable one was the difference between the life and death scenes in Corpse Bride although there is many other good examples in the article. Just like our animation,  Tim Burton was trying to get across the feeling of two very different worlds in the Corpse Bride. The death scenes are very relaxed and fun with bold colours and the life scenes are very uptight and dreary, represented in greys and low saturation. It would be nice to see a change in colour grade between our scene with Benji in his bedroom and the dream scenes.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 01.13.53Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 01.10.18

I also found some interesting articles talking about colour grading trends which I have included links to in the sources section. The biggest trend in blockbuster movies has been popular now for a number of years but due to how well it works is still the most popular grade today. That trend is a very teal and orange look, the teal environment and backgrounds will make the very orange graded skin pop. Well known examples of this are Iron Man and Transformers as seen below.


I also watched a very good talk by Rob Bessette, the start of the talk he explains a bit about colour theory and then he goes on to discuss further detail the tools inside Resolve and how to use them. Things I took away from the theory part of the talk were:

  • Purpose of colour correction :Story telling (warm, cool looks), Fix mistakes (continuity, colour balance), Colour correction vs colour grading, Film VS digital
  • Michael Bay “Transformers look” orange and blues, colours pop, complementary colours the cyan blue will make the skin stand out
  • Colour grading is most noticeable in extremes
  • Films to watch if you want to analyse colour grade: Ameile : Soft warm feel, surreal. Saving Private Ryan: High contrast, very desaturated as seen below.


Colour Correcting

This week our team went and filmed at Tullymore forest to get the shots we need for the animation. We got some beautiful shots but the results look somewhat disappointing and different to what we saw on the day. The reason for this is we shot on a Black Magic Cinema Camera. The footage we got was at a huge resolution and contains a lot of information however it looks very flat because of this. To get our footage to how we want it to look we will need to colour correct it. Here is a still from one of our pieces of footage:

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 00.55.45.png

We took with us a friend of mine Ryan Orr to help us shoot. He has a degree in film studies and was willing to let us use his camera and help us get the footage we needed. He gave me a lot of advice about how to colour correct and then grade the footage once we got it. He told me to look at DaVinci Resolve Lite, a free colour grading program developed for the BlackMagic Cinema Camera. Quite naively I opened the program thinking about what he had told me and thought it would be very easy to grade the footage. I was very wrong, after taking me half an hour to work out how to bring the footage into the program before I even began I decided to turn to the tutorials to speed up the process. I found very useful tutorials for beginners at digital tutors, I ended up watching all 20 videos which proved very valuable as I now feel I know my way around the tools DaVinci (I am yet to be tested on using them.)

The main things I picked up was, the three main wheels lift, gamma and gain represent shadows, mid-tones and highlights. Offset will change the strength of all of these values at once. Colours on the opposite sides of the colour wheel make an image pop as they are complementary colours. An image should always be analysed left to right. Try not to crush highlights or shadows unless you are going for a certain look. To help with this use the parade graph and make sure all of the information is within the values set and not cut off.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 22.32.58.png


Here is a before and after on one of the colour corrected scenes. The final grade will then be done at the end after the footage has been composited together.



Colour Grading

Before starting my colour grading I did some research into colour theory.

“What Is Color?

As long ago as the 6th-century in China, people have tried to understand how and why we react to different colors and how the various colors work together. This ongoing study has produced many theories about the nature of color, all with a similar theme at their heart.

Color theory is based around the existence of three colors that, when mixed together, can produce all other colors. These colors, known as the primary colors, vary according to their application. As photographers, we are mainly concerned with the properties of light, so that is what we will concentrate on here.”

I learned about the following things and now I have a better understanding of them my workflow in DaVinci will hopefully be more precise.

  • Additive Colour
  • Subtractive Colour
  • Which Colour Theory is Best to Use?
  • Colour Intensity
  • Light
  • Why Objects appear Coloured 
  • Measuring colours
  • Describing colours 
  • The Munsell System 
  • The CIE System
  • How we see Colour 

I found of this information at A short easy to understand summary of all of these areas of colour theory which I was able to look into deeper.

Every year my mum buys a calendar for my room and several times now she has bought me the Disney calendar by Thomas Kinkade. I love this artist and his use of colour. After noticing this in my room I knew instantly this is what I wanted to base my colour grading on. Although the images by Kinkade are painted I want to bring the same tones and colour palette into the videos we have captured if I can.

The colour graded scenes are below although the quality has been reduced slightly for youtube.



Wired, First look at Alice in Wonderland:

Alice in Wonderland Stills :

Hisense ULED Vimeo:

Hollywoods New Colour Craze:

Tim Burtons Colour in Movies:

Summer blockbuster grading:

Orange and Teal Colour trend:

Transformers grade Image:

Starting in Colour correction:

The art of colour correction Rob Bessette:

Additional colour grading resource:

Amelie Image:

Saving Private Ryan Image:

Colour Theory Fundamentals for Digital Photography:

Thomas Kinkade:


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