With our switch to the RED Epic camera, we’re now working with RAW files on the tv commercial shoots. This gives us an extraordinary amount of color control and range. Below are a few snapshots from my day in the color grading suite optimizing the color on the files from our last shoot.
With film (as opposed to digital), color was an obvious part of the Director of Photography’s job since color was a result of film selection, development technique, and the choice of lighting, lenses and filters. The DP would recommend and come to a decision with the Director before the shoot on what the final look would be, then execute that look.
Now that digital is taking over, the color tones are largely determined in post-production on computers (setting aside set and wardrobe choices). The tools range from simple sliders in the editing software, to separate software packages just for color grading, to full hardware/software integrated bay’s at the higher end like we have in the images here. This particular system is the Nucoda Film Master at the post-production house Keep Me Posted.
Here I was working with a professional colorist. I would explain what kind of look I wanted, he would apply it to the relevant clips or to precise areas within each frame. Then we would watch it again and I would explain what additional changes I would like and he would apply it. It’s a nice way to go if the budget is there to hire a specialist like this. On more guerrilla projects, I do it myself either in the editing software or with dedicated color software on my Mac tower (i.e., software such as Apple’s Color or Da Vinci Resolve).
This is a particularly fun part of the whole process because after working so long on a piece, here it very quickly improves and settles into its final form — this is near the very end of the production line for a commercial or a film. If there’s anything left to do after this it’s typically audio-related.
View images below…
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