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Old July 20th, 2011, 08:26 AM   #1
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What is your color grading workflow?

I just installed cinestyle in my 5D and I want to learn more about color grading (with Magic Bullet etc.). What is your usually steps when you do color grading?
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Old July 20th, 2011, 09:28 AM   #2
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Depending on the application...

Adobe:

Transcode to ProRes (if I have time)
Slice in Premiere
Then depending on what I want to do with the clip (after effects doesn't import some of the transitions when you do a full scale import) I either grade it in Premiere or round trip it to After Effects (replace with comp) and back again. Final export usually happens in Premiere unless I have some fancy composited effects.

Final Cut:

Transcode to ProRes (if I have time)
Edit in FCP
Round trip to Color and back to FCP
Composite what effects I may want to and Export

That being said, there really isn't anything about DSLR footage that makes any significant "workflow" changes to any basic edit. Yeah, H.264 bogs stuff down, but ProRes eats up HD space so its your call. Just make sure you edit everything before you even START to color grade. Backtracking is a pain.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 10:40 AM   #3
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

I'm a PC user... I'm using Sony Vegas with Magic Bullet, but I want to move to Adobe Premiere... I have Premiere CS4 for now. So I probably need to convert the footage to other format? I have to say, I dont have money for Cineform yet :(
Anyway, I was interested rather in the workflow of the color grading its self. Lets say... first I adjust blacks, then lights, them midtones, then color tone etc. What do you usually do?
Do you use external monitor for viewing the footage when color grading?
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Old July 20th, 2011, 11:25 AM   #4
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

You do not have to transcode DSLR footage to grade it - it is a process I do because I prefer to use an intermediate codec and it standardizes the footage for use in Final Cut (premiere is much better at handling multiple formats in the same timeline) since I usually get footage from 3 different cameras during a shoot.

What I do depends on the application - since you aren't going to be using Color I can skip that entirely since its a bit different than grading in an editing program.

I personally always use a monitor for the scopes/waveform/RGB parade, and one monitor that I calibrated as best I can for viewing. Your best friend are readouts as those will read true even if the blacks in your monitor may not be the best, etc.

Usually, my first step is to equalize the exposure range - If your overexposed, the bottom of your RGB parade will, most likely, not bottom out, and crush the blacks into a true black. Inverse goes for underexposed footage upward toward the whites.

With cinestyle, my first step is always to apply the intended curve to it and watch how the scopes respond. If the blacks get crushed, Ill back off the bottom end, or if the whites are too hot, Ill back down up top. Watch the RGB parade while doing this. Midtones are where you can play the most with DSLR footage as blown out areas are gone, and blacks aren't boostable with DSLR footage for the most part (thought cinestyle definitely helps maintain them both).

I had more typed for you, but I had to stop because its not a strict one way workflow where one gamma boost, or pulling down the lift works for every shot. Every single shot I grade in a project is usually different. Unless you have perfect exposure in every one, it will be different. Turn on the scopes while color grading, it will make sense pretty quickly.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 11:39 AM   #5
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Thanks for the help. I have to learn how to read the scopes. I'm used to Photoshop (where I edit photos). In Camera Raw its pretty easy, blown highlights blinks red, crushed blacks blinks blue.

I think I need to transcode the footage, because my computer is not so fast... Is there another choice then Cineform for PC users?
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Old July 20th, 2011, 11:46 AM   #6
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

BTW, I was allways wondering... when the sharpness in DLSRs color profile is all the way down, do I have to add it back in post or its just a matter of contrast?
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Old July 20th, 2011, 01:40 PM   #7
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Nest the final sequence and throw a mild unsharp mask on top of it. Thats what I do to get the sharpness back.
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Old July 20th, 2011, 03:54 PM   #8
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

I used Sony Vegas before and there is no unsharp mask. I'm glad its in Premiere :)
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Old July 20th, 2011, 05:07 PM   #9
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Vegas has a sharpen filter. It's basically the same thing as unsharp mask.
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Old July 21st, 2011, 05:27 PM   #10
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Could you recommend me some good resource about color grading?
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 04:37 AM   #11
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Search a bookstore for "Color Correction for video".
This will make you understand the fundamentals and the tools.
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 06:13 AM   #12
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Thanks....
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Old July 22nd, 2011, 08:10 AM   #13
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

‪color grading tutorial‬‏ - YouTube

To be honest, thats all I ever did... After a while, once you get the feel for it, experimentation is the best tool.
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Old July 23rd, 2011, 08:02 AM   #14
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

If you're wanting to just understand the art of color correction and have a reference that is somewhat application neutral then I recommend this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Color-Correction-Handbook-Professional-Techniques/dp/0321713117
There are many other books on the topic but this is by far the best I've ever seen. I don't use any of the applications referenced in the book but if you know your application you can apply the concepts just the same. Very straightforward and very well presented focusing on all manner of techniques.

One other note, Magic Bullet Looks is not a true color grading application. It is designed to create various looks that go beyond just color correction and it doesn't have all the elements of a true color grading application. If you have CS4 then Synthetic Aperture's Color Finesse comes with After Effects and has all the bells and whistles you'll need. It's mostly on par with Apple Color in terms of features although the workflow methodology is different between the two. Colorista II is also an outstanding application but lacks scopes. That being said you can always get a pro or semi-pro monitor with scopes built in.
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Old July 31st, 2011, 09:29 AM   #15
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Re: What is your color grading workflow?

Here's another vote for the Alexis Van Hurkman book. It's a fascinating read even if like me you are only a rank amateur at colour grading/correction. It's very well written & full of excellent examples.
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