Color Correction and Grading in Alight Motion

Color correction and grading are essential skills for any video editor to master. Though they sound similar, there are some key differences between color correction and grading that are important to understand.

What is color correction?

Color correction refers to adjusting the colors in a video to fix errors and make the image look as natural as possible. The goal is to ensure the colors are balanced and true to life. Common color correction techniques include:

  • Adjusting brightness, contrast, and saturation
  • Fixing improperly white balance
  • Removing color casts like blue or yellow tints
  • Matching shots for consistency

Color correction helps create a baseline image that looks clean and realistic before more stylistic grading is applied.

What is color grading?

Color grading involves creatively altering the colors in a video to set a specific mood, tone, or aesthetic. It builds on the corrected image to stylize the colors and give a unique “look” to the video. Common color grading techniques include:

  • Making footage black and white or monochrome
  • Boosting color saturation for a vibrant, intense image
  • Desaturating colors for a muted, low-contrast look
  • Using cool or warm color tones to convey different emotions
  • Applying cinematic color presets as the blockbuster film looks

So while color correction aims for accuracy, color grading gives you artistic license to make the colors support your creative vision.

The difference between color correction and grading

The main differences are:

  • Purpose – Correction aims for accuracy, grading for aesthetics
  • Tools used – Correction relies on technical adjustments like white balance and saturation changes. Grading offers creative options like LUTs and curves.
  • Workflow order – Correction comes first to fix issues, then grading for stylistic choices.

But there’s an overlap between them as well. The end result is always a marriage of both correction and grading. Understanding these core concepts will help you master color in your videos.

The Importance of Color Correction and Grading

Adjusting the colors in your footage may seem strictly aesthetic at first. But proper color correction and grading provide some essential benefits.

Why is color correction important?

  • It makes the image look natural and realistic.
  • It ensures all shots in a scene match for consistency.
  • It fixes issues like color casts or improper exposure.
  • It creates an accurate base for stylistic grading.
  • Missing correction leads to unrealistic or ugly-looking footage!

Getting the colors right enhances the viewing experience while getting them wrong can ruin and distract. The time invested in learning color correction and grading directly impacts the professional look of your videos.

How color correction and grading affect the overall look and feel of a video

Together, correction and grading control the aesthetics of the video and guide the viewer’s experience:

  • The mood – From cold and bleak to warm and comforting.
  • The tone – Serious, dramatic, lighthearted, cheerful etc.
  • Realism – Natural or stylized, accurate or abstracted.
  • Style – Cinematic, vintage, muted, bright, romantic etc.
  • Focus – Draw the eye where you want.
  • Continuity – Unify shots/scenes through color.

The precise colors you choose can subconsciously evoke the desired reactions and emotions in the audience. Scenes with different color treatments will have vastly different impacts. Developing an eye for color will elevate your videos to new artistic heights!

The Tools of Color Correction and Grading in Alight Motion

Alight Motion provides a flexible suite of tools to color-correct and grade your videos. The core tools can be found in the Color Adjustment menu.

The color correction tools in Alight Motion

  • Brightness – Lightens or darkens footage.
  • Contrast – Makes colors more vivid or muted.
  • Hue – Changes the overall color tone.
  • Saturation – Intensifies or desaturates the colors.
  • Temperature – Adjusts the warm/cool color balance.
  • Tint – Offsets the green/magenta balance.
  • Exposure – Lightens or darkens the image.
  • Highlights – Recovers detail lost in bright areas.
  • Shadows – Reveals detail hidden in dark shadows.

These standard controls are vital for shot matching and fixing problem colors quickly.

The color grading tools in Alight Motion

  • Color Presets – Applies cinematic looks with one click.
  • Curves – Fine-tunes color and brightness with control points.
  • Color Isolation – Selectively grades specific color ranges.
  • Look – Alters contrast, saturation, and tone stylistically.
  • Blend Modes – Blends layers using modes like “Multiply” and “Screen”.
  • Masking – Masks off sections for separate color treatment.

These give you advanced creative options to take grading much further.

How to use the tools effectively

  • Learn each tool’s purpose to know when to use it.
  • Make changes gradually instead of drastic adjustments.
  • Don’t destroy your shadows and highlights.
  • Compare before and after using a split screen.
  • Don’t overdo saturation or contrast boosts.
  • Check skin tones as you grade them to keep them natural.
  • Use masks to limit adjustments to certain areas.

You’ll learn how far you can push the tools to create stunning images with practice.

Color Correction Techniques in Alight Motion

Here are essential techniques for properly color correcting in Alight Motion:

Adjusting brightness, contrast, and saturation

The Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation sliders should be your first adjustments:

  • Set overall brightness level with Brightness.
  • Increase Contrast to make colors pop or decrease for a flat, muted look.
  • Use Saturation to intensify colors or desaturate for a subtle palette.

Don’t go overboard – small changes go a long way!

Correcting white balance

White balance controls the color temperature, which affects warm and cool tones. Go to Properties > White Balance and choose the correct lighting condition:

  • Auto – Let Alight Motion set white balance automatically.
  • Presets like Sunny, Cloudy, Tungsten, etc.
  • Temperature and Tint – Manually fine-tune the warmth and coolness.

This neutralizes color casts from bad lighting.

Fixing color casts

Tinted footage is a common issue. Go to Color Adjustment and tweak:

  • Temperature warms up blue tones or cools down orange.
  • Tint offsets green or magenta casts.
  • Hue rotates all hues to target specific tints.

Use sparingly to remove color biases while keeping the image natural.

Color Grading Techniques in Alight Motion

Color grading allows limitless creative stylization. Here are some techniques to apply in Alight Motion:

Creating a cinematic look

The Cinema pack under Color Presets includes Hollywood-style grades like Blockbuster, Dramatic, and Black & White.

Other cinematic techniques:

  • A cool palette for a suspenseful mood.
  • Boost contrast slightly for dramatic lighting.
  • Crush the blacks to add depth.
  • Desaturate selectively to pull focus.

Using color to convey mood and emotion

Use warm, inviting tones for joyful scenes or cool, clinical grading for serious drama. Some examples:

  • Warm, golden sunset for a romantic moment.
  • Cool midnight blues for mystery.
  • Pale, desaturated colors for somber sadness.
  • Intense saturation for lively energy and fun.

Think about what feelings you want the audience to have.

Applying color grading presets

Alight Motion includes many premade color presets under Style, Mood, Tone, and more:

  • Browse and preview presets to find suitable looks.
  • Adjust opacity to lower the effect strength.
  • Try combining presets for unique stylization.

Save time by starting with a preset, then customizing as needed.

Advanced Color Correction and Grading

These additional techniques offer even more control:

Using curves to adjust color and contrast

Curves let you fine-tune the tonal range with control points on a graph. You can:

  • Increase specific shadow/highlight details.
  • Target and change color channels like Red, Green, and Blue individually.
  • Add points to deepen blacks or boost whites.
  • Create S-curves to heighten contrast.

Curves provide extensive customization for skilled colorists.

Matching shots for consistency

For scenes with multiple shots, match colors so cuts between shots are seamless:

  • Copy grades between shots using Previous/Next.
  • Split screen to visually compare shots as you match.
  • Check skin tones – our eyes notice even subtle differences here.
  • Match lighting, contrast, and saturation levels.

Continuity is crucial for professional editing. Matching shots tie the scene together nicely.

Working with RAW footage

RAW video retains maximum color data from the camera sensor for the most flexibility:

  • RAW allows more extreme corrections and grading.
  • Use the full dynamic range for smooth gradients.
  • Adjust white balance easily without quality loss.
  • Make corrections non-destructively.

The downside is the much heavier files and processing required. But the color possibilities make RAW invaluable for sticklers.

Tips and Tricks for Color Correction and Grading in Alight Motion

Here are some helpful tips for working efficiently:

How to save time with keyboard shortcuts

  • Use B, C, and S to quickly access Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation.
  • Press O repeatedly to cycle the Look preset filters.
  • Copy and paste grades between clips using Ctrl/Cmd + C and V.
  • Split screen with S to compare clips as you match colors.

Learning the shortcuts will speed up your color workflows.

Using masks to isolate color corrections

Add masks to limit adjustments to certain areas of the frame:

  • Mask out a person’s face so skin tone tweaks don’t affect the environment.
  • Make the background darker while keeping the subject bright.
  • Intensify the sky’s blue without oversaturating the foreground.

Targeted color changes help photos and complex scenes pop.

Best practices for color correction and grading workflows

  • Start with shot matching and correction before moving on to grading.
  • Work clip by clip through scenes with similar lighting and shots first.
  • Grade gently – less is often more.
  • Don’t overdo it! Keep viewers focused on the story and content.
  • Let test renders be your guide – adjustments may look different in playback.

Working systematically and reviewing as you go helps keep color workflows smooth and efficient.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *