Color correcting my short film

Last week, I finished editing my short film for class. I got “picture lock” and began color correcting each shot. First, I’d like to establish the difference between color correction and color grading.

Color correction is the process of actually correcting the color in a scene. Often in raw footage, the colors are a bit off from what they should be. So this is when you go in and fix skin tones and other colors so that they are correct. Color grading is the process of changing the color palette of a shot for aesthetic reasons. For example, if a scene has a lot of intensity, the colorist may choose to add a lot of oranges and reds to the picture to reflect that intensity.

I thought a lot last week about how to color my film. Here’s what I ended up doing.

My first scene opens in the middle of a couple arguing. Since their was a lot of intensity in the scene, I decided to give the picture a hard mix. The reds are very red and the blacks are very black. The argument then continues down the stairs into the living room, which has very little light. So the picture becomes much softer and blue. As an example of color correction, the picture had a lot of greens in the raw footage. To fix this, I took some of the greens out and added some blues to make it seem more natural. I also corrected the next scene, which was washed out, by taking down the brightness and adding some contrast.

After the argument ends, the colors become softer. I did this to reflect the protagonist’s loneliness. I felt it would be more appropriate than giving it an intense look.

In the next scene, our protagonist picks up his wife and they sort out their problems. I struggled with how to color this scene. It takes place at night in a car, so it’s very dark. At first, I tried to give the blacks a milky look, but as much as I wanted to like it, there are two reasons I didn’t stick with it: 1) it didn’t fit with the rest of the film and 2) it didn’t seem to fit thematically. I ended up crushing the blacks to make it seem darker and more emotional since this was an emotional time for our protagonist.

In the last scene, the wife is unpacking her clothes, implying that she will not be leaving. Since there is some resolution in this scene and emotions have settled, I kept the color mix much softer than it was in the beginning of the film.

These are some ways I used color correction and color grading in the my film to help visually tell my story.

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