What’s Color Grading and Why You Want That

Jan 15, 2018

Color grading is the process of altering the colors of a movie, a video or a still image for the purpose of either correcting the colors or to make them artistically more interesting. There are a lot of ways and applications to do just that. Most of the time, you color grade your image material manually, because automatic methods of modern cameras are just not good enough.

A good example is capturing all the dynamic range of a photo sensor. Most cameras auto-expose an image in a way that cuts out a lot of color information in the blacks and in the highlights. Either the sky is blown out or the shadows are just a dark blob. To circumvent this problem, most higher-end cameras have log image profiles. Canon cameras have C-Log, Sony products use S-Log and Panasonic is using V-Log, but even on smartphones there are are apps like FilmicPro which capture more detail using their own log profiles. Light information is read from the photo sensor linearly. Dark is 0 and White is 1. But that’s not how your eyes are seeing things. Your visual cortex processes light logarithmic like, meaning the eyes are more sensitive to darker light sources than lighter once. A log image profile puts more color information into darker image areas and compresses lighter areas and thus captures more detail while only blowing out extreme highlights. Looking at such an image however is not pleasing. The image mostly looks grey and doesn’t have a lot of contrast.

This is where color grading software comes into play. You can use this kind of software to add contrast, darken or lighten up the image or boost the saturation. Sophisticated apps like Davinci Resolve give you lots of tools to deal with all kinds of aspects of color grading. You want to expose the image correctly, show lots of detail in the shadows, don’t blow out highlights, make the skin tones really nice and maybe also give a scene an interesting look, like teal and orange. All these tools however make using these apps a chore and you need to learn and experiment a lot before getting good results.

My goal with Colorcast is to make this process easier and more intuitive while not dumbing down the tools too much. If you are a beginner and just make yourself familiar with video or if you are an aspiring YouTuber, who just want a quick turnaround, I think Colorcast can help you to make your videos better and more interesting.