Color Grade: Prompt #5


Keeping with the learning and a little research, the following images will show you a range of colour corrected frames along with their original. Arguments supporting the reasons behind the choice of colour, tone and texture can also be found alongside these images which should substantiate the need for channelling the images in the said direction.

Image 1

The original Image (as seen above) is bereft on any texture and filled with a background that sports ‘highlights’. As a result one of the main objectives while grading this image became to crush the brightness and give the image a colour temperature.

Grade 1: The first Grade demanded that we stuck to the basics. Giving the image a definitive look and correcting the existing flaws were the real focus. Hence, I toggled around with the ‘Basic Correction’ and ‘Creative Correction’ options in the Lumetri Colour correction panel. Since the original image had. highlighted background and a throw of light that was helping the overall image peak, I decided to crush the ‘highlights’ to -25.5 and increase ‘Contrast values’ to 2.1. I further reduced the ‘Whites’ to a -6.4, which gave me an image that got rid of the over exposed portion on the widow of the image.

Then came reducing the temperature values to a -17.0 as this would give the image a cooler and more textured look. This also neutralised the whites and brought out the red in her costume in a much better way. Then I went into the ‘Creative Panel’, where I further pushed the ‘Highlight Tint’ option to a cooler blue tone and set the sharpness and the saturation values of the image to ‘48.9’ and ‘63.8’ respectively. This gave birth to the above image and one of the main reasons in pushing the colour tomes of the original image in this direction is to bring out the contest in the costume with the blue overlay on the image. As a result, the contrasts are well balanced and the over exposed portions in the original is omitted.

Grade 2: In this image, I basically wanted to mute both the reds in the frame and the over exposed background. The reason behind going for this look is to give it a teasing flashback kind of a frame, where we only see a splash of colour on the protagonist but the overall frame is desaturated. As a result, the values below formed the basis of pushing the image to the colour

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 11.29.44 am

The reason for the desaturated look is to give the image a very sinister vibe and hence I decided to keep a little bit of the reds in. This gave me an image that was visually stylistic and also very effective in setting a tone to the viewer’s eyes. Also, The ‘Creative Panel’ on the Lumetri colour corrector was not used in achieving this image. Hence, the only contrast is the popping red on the wall and on the protagonist’s dress, this not only gives us a tone but also makes it seem like an archival image.

Grade 3: The idea behind the third grade is to give it a crime thriller meets a noir world kind of a look. Hence I operated on highlighting a certain portion of the image and increasing the darker values on the other parts to make it a more grunge looking world. The colour correction scopes that helped me get there are as shown below:

As a result of working on the scopes (as seen above in the images), the contrast on the image played out to be between the shadows and the light. Crushing the blacks and increasing the whites, bringing down the sharpness and vibrance values helped in gaining an image that resembled frames from a noir, crime-thriller world. This is my personal favourite as it is stylish and risqué in approach but also very contemporary as an end result.

Image 2

The original image offered a possibility to push the colour texture on it to give it a more suitable and interesting look. Hence, this image was graded in the above three ways. Reasons being:

Grade 1: The original image lacked a texture that would make it appealing and as a result my first job was to make it seemingly more interesting and give it a ‘film’ look. I toyed around with the ‘Basic panel’ in the Lumetri colour corrector in trying to increase the contrast values and the shadows in the image. As a result, I left the ‘White Balance’ alone and focussed on correcting the ‘Tone’ values in the image to achieve the desired result. There was no change in temperature and thereby we see the image just bring out the darker details. The exact measure of change can be seen as listed in the image below:

 Grade 2: This grade focussed on replicating the colour temperature of garde 1 on the previous image. A reason for going in this direction is because I wanted to attain a cooler colour tone that resembled a frame out of a contemporary European film. Hence, both the Basic panel and the Creative panels were tweaked in attaining the said look. Unlike all the other graded images, the whites were brought out and the contrast was crushed in order to make the frame and all its elements blend in well. This was done because there was more than one colour value in the given frame and as a result it was important to get them synchronised without compromising on even one of them.

Again, what works in this images favour in attaining the cool, blue wash is the fact that this image the tint balance is veered to the blue details and the overall saturation of the image is increased, in order to keep the image balanced.

Grade 3: Derving the white balance of this image using the ‘Ink Tool’ in the ‘Basic Panel’ and giving this image more heat to tilt it to resemble a frame from a sitcom works quite well. The idea behind the grade of this frame is to make it resemble a frame right out of any contemporary soap opera series, specifically something like a ‘Breaking Bad’. However, in order to achieve this look the contrast values in the picture took a beating and thereby the overall picture looks quite flat. The wash of warmth only acts as a filter but it does not do much to the image as a whole. Regardless, here are the tweaked values as seen below:

Image 3

One of the primary reasons why this image was chosen to be graded was because of the elements that were on offer. An over blown background in the form of a window, with a more muted and contrasting foreground, made it one for an interesting colour exploration.

Grade 1: Neutralising both blacks and whites and bringing out the colour contrast was the main aim in grading this picture. In doing so, I also wanted it to carry a blue filter thereby giving it a cooler colour tone. However, since the original image is more or less well exposed, the only thing I had to focus on was in balancing the tones and temperatures right. As shown below, these are the values that represent the final grade  above.

Grade 2: While the first grade on this picture focussed on setting the colour tones right, this one gives it a more retro-film look, like a frame from an early 80’s film. The idea behind this look was to really accentuate the contrast in the colours while still retaining the blacks. Increasing all the basic tonal values and decreasing the saturation helped in achieving this looks. What accentuates the colour in the frame is pushing the shadow and the highlight tint in the opposite direction, so as to maintain a balance. The values can be seen below:

Grade 3: This is possibly the more experimental of all grades in the series. The idea behind this grade is to replicate a frame that could be used for print and online promotions. However, this is also possibly the weakest grade as the values are a bit more over-exposed in comparison to the original picture. The whites are clearly being brought out despite the desaturated look and the blacks are muted. This gives the picture a bleached look and does not really help in negating the highlights.

However, the white balance for this picture was derived by using the ‘Ink Drop’ tool taking the colour value from the couch in the original picture. The colour details on both the characters seem to be clipping which might mean that this picture could face problems during a playback. Regardless, this failed attempt at grading the picture too taught me some essential “don’ts” of the craft of grading.


Overall, this exercise on grading has been extremely enlightening and insightful. The more I tend to experiment the more I tend to find out what kind of grade works and why.  However, success in the future is going to be determined by the continued efforts at grading all kinds of media. Hence, here’s to a positive and colourful future!

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