Color Correction for Dummies (Like me)
God bless Davinci Resolve. I’ve been my own color corrector for years and I’ve always longed for the day I could fire myself. I have absolutely no aptitude for it and I think I end up making things look worse most of the time. Sure, I get the colors balanced so that the changes between shots aren’t jarring, but I can’t seem to create pleasing palettes at all. I love the blue, desaturated tones of shows like Supernatural and the contrasty, desaturated blue-grey with misty highlights of the last Harry Potter movies. There’s this whole thing about dragging the lows and the mids against each other in the color spectrum, but it requires a serious level of artistry that I don’t have. I’ve gotten better, but I totally crushed all the blacks in episode 6 and there’s way too much red in that whole episode. It’s kind of ugly looking.
Apple Color was part of the problem. That program had a little more control to it than Final Cut’s 3-Way Color Corrector, but I’d spend hours in there and then the render-out didn’t look at all like it did in Color itself. Everything was always a little darker and it seemed to degrade the image, creating more pixel noise.
A friend of mine suggested Davinci Resolve and said that the Lite version was a free download. Sold. I watched a bunch of tutorials online and learned how to use and tweak their gallery of Power Grades—presets of looks that, when combined, give me the looks I’ve wanted for so long. It’s awesome! The first time I tried it was on the trailer for our seventh episode, seen here:
I intentionally pulled scenes with different color-looks from all over the episode to see the range of what Resolve Lite could do. I…LOVE…IT. It still takes a while to get through scenes because, you know, it’s color correction and that takes time, but it finally looks the way I want it to. I’m no longer hindered by my lack of color grading talent! Plus, how badass is my sister’s score at the end of that trailer?
Now I just need to finish grading the episode, hopefully soon, because we need to get some publicity packs together and I’m putting the episode up online in two and a half weeks. Then I’ll have some summer before we do the next episode.
Happy 4th of July, Americans! I’ll be grilling and watching National Treasure before going to fireworks and the drive-in movie theater. What are you going to do?
Thanks for reading.