Back To Listings RSS Print

Color Correction Video Tutorial

Using color contrast to improve an image

By Steve Hullfish | November 05, 2008


This video tutorial on color correction shows how color contrast can be used to really transform an image. A large part of color correction is improving and manipulating the tonal contrast - the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of the image. But color contrast can be even more important in creating an interesting and arresting image. Contrasting warm tones with cool tones or playing colors against each other to create interest is something that sets the truly great colorists apart from the rest. The example in this video tutorial uses footage from Evan Nicholas' short film, "Susannah," which was shot with a RED camera, to show how tonal and color contrast can be used to improve the impact of a shot.

This is one of a continuing series of video tutorials based on the revised edition of the first book on color correction: "Color Correction for Digital Video" which I co-wrote with Jaime Fowler. The revised edition, which is due out in mid-December, will just be called "Color Correction for Video" and is largely re-written with all new examples and an entire DVD or sample footage and video tutorials.

Please subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog to receive further tutorials in this series automatically.

Editor's Choice
PVC Exclusive
From our Sponsors

Share This

Back To Listings RSS Print

Get articles like this in your inbox: Sign Up


Gravnetic: | November, 09, 2008

I have been shooting a ton with my 2 HVX’s.  When I review the footage it really looks oversaturated to me.  By increasing the contrast like you suggest it would look even more so, correct?

I am planing on lowering the gamma to reduce the overall saturation. 

I am using Color Finesse and like the new improvments.  Spot color has still been elusive though.

Gravnetic: | November, 09, 2008

Sorry about the spelling above.  I had just woke up.  I would like to see an edit function if possible so I can clean up crap like the post above.

Steve Hullfish: | November, 09, 2008

You are correct that increasing contrast increases saturation. There are some color correction systems than have a feature that allows you to add contrast while maintaining the same saturation, but Color does not have that. It’s not really that big of a deal really - though an extra step - to bring saturation back down after making the change to the contrast. Something to consider when reducing - or adding - saturation is to do it selectively using either the highlight, shadow and overall saturation controls in the Primary Room or to go into secondaries if you have the time and increase or decrease the saturation in only selected parts of the image. Changing JUST the overall saturation is the fastest way, but color correction is all about control, so you want to lower the saturation - in your case - only where you need it. Though I’d agree that on many video images, a reduction of overall saturation is often necessary, depending on the lighting and subject matter.

I have some color correction examples in Color Finesse. I’ll do one of those next in the series. Spot color correction in Color Finesse is not as easy as it is in Color, but it is possible. But Color Finesse is a very capable program.

Gravnetic: | November, 09, 2008

Here is my general process in Color Finesse…I also upgraded the full version if that makes a difference I don’t know.

So I open it up and then click up in the view window and select luma ranges. Then in the adjustments I move the highs mids and lows with the two track lines to seperate the regions I want to adjust indipendant of one another.

Then I usethe HSL to adjust the pedastal as you described in your video to slightly crush the blacks.  THen the RGB Gain up to near 1.0, and usually then pedestal back down. 

Finally, I will use the Hue Offset to adjust any colors.  What I usually do is take the color Hue point all the way out so I can see on the vector scope which color takes my blob closests to center and this is usually where I tweak twoards slightly.  I learned this from a colorist with Avid.  I can’t remember her name but it was at NAB at Post Production World or whatever they call it.

The other cool thing she taught us was that all humans natural color lives on the bar between YI/R and between CY/B.

Secondary color has been nearly impossible for me to pull a good matte.  I had thought about maybe pulling a matte as a seperate layer in AE and then changing this color.  It isn’t really an ideal secondary correction in the color sofware though.

I have access to color aswell so I’ll ask if I can try to do a secondary color there and if it works I’ll have to move a render over to a friends and do it there when needed.

Please login or register to comment