Check Out This Beautiful Color Grading Breakdown
Guest Writer: Kristopher Paterson
Here’s something that might be interesting to all you retouchers out there. It’s
a visual breakdown of the color grading process that went into a short video
I’m extremely fascinated by the growing parallels between retouchers and
colorists. Traditionally, the role of the colorist has been one built around color
correction and color grading. Now, as grading software gets more robust and
more affordable, the expectations of the colorist are increasing as well.
Interestingly, the skillsets of a colorist and a retoucher are becoming more
and more similar.
I shot the above clip myself, using some techniques familiar to anyone versed
in basic composite photography. Shot on the RED Scarlet MX, I exposed the
first scene to get the most detail and latitude out of the camping trailer. As
expected, the sky blew out. So I shot another take - this time, panning
upwards and exposing for the sky.
I brought my footage into Davinci Resolve, and from there it was a rather
straightforward process of masking out the foreground and overlaying the
mask on top of the shot of the sky. Then it was basically a step by step
process of matching exposure and color, and finally, grading and stylising the
The main difference in the colorist’s workflow is, of course, motion. Everything
up until this point was done on a single frame of the video. From there I used
various tracking techniques within Resolve to interpret the motion of the clip,
and applied that motion tracking data to my mask. I had to manually key
frame the odd glitch here and there.
For me, this was predominantly a practice exercise. As the skills that are
fundamental for retouchers are becoming more and more valuable for a
colorist to have