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Color Correction

Just about every aspect of movie making is fascinating, and lately I’ve been feeding the obsession by learning color correction. I have a long way to go before I become a competent color grader, but it’s definitely been worth it to try. Learning any post-production processes will sharpen your skills as a producer or director. Knowing how your footage is processed in post informs your decisions on the day of the shoot, and broadens your creative choices.
Learning color correction expanded my understanding of cinematography and changed the way I use my camera. Where I was only concerned with getting correct exposure, I am now thinking about dynamic range. Instead of just color I’m aware of color temperature. The cognitive leap has been thinking in terms of not just the quantity of light, but quality of light. Here’s my first attempt at color correction.

This was shot in the hallway outside my apartment, and was a pretty tough sequence to correct. The light is constantly changing as my daughter pushes the dolly back and forth. The ceiling mounted light the end of the hallway casts a very yellow light which drops off fast as she moves towards the entry door. There’s not much light in the hallway to begin with so I mounted a daylight balanced compact florescent on the dolly to keep a consistent light on her no matter where she was in the hallway. Unfortunately, as she gets close to the end, the light blows out the wall. As she nears the entry door, the color temperature changes.

Since the light is constantly changing in the sequence, I key framed different points in the clip to make the corrections dynamic. I tried a lot of different vignettes and secondary corrections on the clip which ended up looking heavy handed. I backed off the correction a bit for the clip you see here. This is pretty good sequence to experiment with and I’ll add some more corrections to it as I learn more about color.