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Old December 8th, 2009, 08:24 AM   #1
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Color Grade Before or After?

We have some shots that we want pretty heavily color graded. We are compositing in some lighting and storm clouds in the background, and I was wonndering if we should color grade before or after the effects are composited into the shots?

Any and all thoughts welcome,

-Ben
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Old December 8th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #2
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What video format are you editing? Are you using an intermediate codec such as Cineform? An intermediate codec makes multi pass encoding possible without "hurting" the video. If you are editing in HDV (mpeg) you are more limited because mpeg doesn't hold up well if you want to multi pass encode.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 12:19 PM   #3
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Hey Jim,

Thank you for responding. We are editing in DVCPRO HD 720P 24. We are currently using Final Cut 5 - so we do not have ProRes. We are very close to purchasing Final Cut Studio 3 though - mostly for ProRes. I've suggested working in uncompressed for the time being. This is only a 30 Second piece so going uncompressed won't be too much of a hassle.

So should we color grade before applying the effects or after, or doesn't it matter?

My current opinion is to apply the color grading after.

-Ben
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Old December 8th, 2009, 12:43 PM   #4
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ProRes is definitely a worthwhile investment. It gives you so many more work flow options when you edit without concern about "hurting" your video with multi pass editing. For a short clip, uncompressed shouldn't be too unwieldy.

Personally, I like to do all of the "fixes" and other FX's to the video first and then color grade. I like the feeling of starting from a know starting point when I color grade. Otherwise, correcting and grading become a little ambiguous.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 12:58 PM   #5
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I know next to nothing about compositing but from a technical standpoint I would suggest creating your key signal from an untouched source and then doing whatever processing later.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 01:06 PM   #6
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Excellent, thank you for your advice!

-Ben
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Old December 10th, 2009, 02:59 AM   #7
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Colour correcting is definitely a last step. It's what brings a uniformity/consistency to the project...especially to a comp!
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Old December 10th, 2009, 05:34 PM   #8
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Hi, certainly colour grading is a final step, though if I am compositing I do a colour correction of the elements I'm compositing to make sure they conform to the general tone of the background/plate.
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