Color correction and color grading are a huge part of the post production process. Comprehending these technical terms as a video production customer will make you better equipped in negotiating and understanding what is actually possible when you are about to order a video, or if you want to play around with making a visual production of your own.
Understanding the basics
In short, color correction is the process of fixing a color or exposure problem, while color grading is the process of giving a scene a specific “look”, as well as matching the shots color-vice. Whether only color correction or both, come into play depends on the project, time as well as budget. For example, if it’s an interview or a live stream usually the editor would only use color correction since the focus is primarily on the spoken words and a fast delivery is expected. However, in a promo, music video or commercial, where visuals are extremely important, you’ll most often need the power of both.
The reason for this is that the color psychology has the capacity to manipulate with emotions and influence our mood. The same shot color graded differently will have a different feel: it could be scary (with a lot of darkness and blue tones) or really cozy (with really bright and yellow tones), old-school or futuristic, etc. Going monochrome (black and white) could also be an option. Even though it’s not a popular choice when it comes to commercials vids, but it could be the right choice if you wish to concentrate the attention of the viewer on the story or composition, or create a more vintage look.
…and a few details
A great amount is fixable and adjustable in the color correction and grading process, but to save time (and thereby money) in post-production, the right preperations have to be done already in the planning phase. This includes making sure that there is proper light on set (even with natural light, extra lamps sometimes have to be brought in), and the colors and patterns of the background, props and clothes are complementary and are exactly the ones that you wish to see in the video. Remembering to regulate the white balance during filming is also crucial.
Different cameras = different memory of light and colors
Cheap video and DSLR cameras don’t have a lot of memory and don’t allow for major adjustments to the colors and exposure while shooting, which will affect the quality of your video and often will not be fixable in post production. Expensive cams have a lot of memory, leaving greater room for changes in your shot, but a proper light and white balance set-up will still be required.
The world of color correction and color grading is vast and complex, but generally understanding the difference between the two is a good start.