Colour Grading is the process of enhancing or altering the existing colour of the motion picture. The colour on the screen tells us a lot about the theme, mood and also the style of the film. After the digital advancements in this technology post 1990, it has become a mandatory requirement for any professional motion picture to go through this process before its release.
During this trimester, we shot a web series called ‘Rinse and Spin’ spanning of 4 episodes and running 3 minutes each. Due to its ‘Time Travelling’ genre, each episodes are set in different time periods. As discussed above, the grade on a film tells more about the subtext and style. Hence it is obvious that each time period has to have different style of grading.
To start with, the series was filmed in Sony FS 7 configured to the most advanced mode called the ‘Cine El slog3’. This preset automatically adjusts the highlights and shadows on the frame and gives a softer tone throughout.
Episode 1 – Present Day
Episode one of our series is set in the present day hence it doesn’t fall under any particular style preset.
Hence for this episode, I would mainly focus on the gamma and contrast adjustments. As we can see the background is also brightly lit and plain overall, the skin tone on the actor can be more saturated and given a warmer tone. This makes the character stand out interesting in the boring background. As this series comes under the drama genre, I would not experiment too much into colouring. I would let it look as natural as possible and grade it to where the audience attention caught on the character.
a still from the film avengers featuring the current day look
Episode 2 – Medieval
Medieval can also be considered as fantasy to some extent. This genre usually contains a colour pattern that occurs unnaturally.
I would firstly do a primary grading that is matched to the time of the day and also the surrounding. Once again, I would add some saturation to make the character or if any interesting locations shown to stand up to be more attractive. As the final process, I would pick out the most interesting objects associated with the character and add some colour isolation to it. For instance, the hero’s costume looks too dull. The metal ornament and the sword can be isolated to make the character to look more heroic.
a still for the film Gladiator featuring the medieval look
Episode 3 – 70’s Cop
This period is where more and more technological advancements started coming up in colour films. Yet this was the time were there general issues regarding noise and clarity.
Thinking of this 70’s era, the ‘hipster look’ is what comes to my mind first. Regardless of the shot, this grading pattern does have a few common traits observed generally. Usually the blacks are not really blacks, they tend to be some sort of greyish blue. The whites are usually greyish yellow. None of the colours are vibrant and distinctive. Altogether, the frame has a soft image and no sharp edges. And, there is definitely noise. Hence in our episode, I would give a primary grade. Do some justice to saturation and contrast. I will bring down the vibrance. Now I would purposely add a gaussian filter to bring the noise effect to the image. And there we go, the “hipster look” is achieved.
a still from the film The Godfather featuring a 70’s look
Episode 4 – Film Noir
In the point of cinematography, I consider this style the hardest to shoot. This is because, the lighting on set has to be really appropriate to achieve a easy grade in post.
Film Noir is usually characterised by its harsh lighting and dark shadows. It is is very obvious that there needs to be a high level of contrast done in post. During the shoot, I switched my monitor to a monochrome output. I wanted to experience the effect while I was shooting. Similarly I might try adding the monochrome filter and adjust the contrast and saturation. I would also use a heavy colour isolation with high contrast. This would be done to the most interesting objects associated to the character. Moreover, I would brighten the skin tones and also add more shadows to the darker regions. Hence we get our Film Noir episode ready.
a image representing a film noir look
Digitalcinemafoundry.com,. (2010). Digital Cinema Foundry – Learning resource in the field of digital cinematography – Why the so called “Blockbuster” look? (color grading explained). Retrieved 16 December 2015, from http://www.digitalcinemafoundry.com/2010/04/02/why-the-so-called-blockbuster-look-color-grading-explained/
The Beat: A Blog by PremiumBeat,. (2014). Dissecting the Hipster Look. Retrieved 16 December 2015, from http://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/dissecting-hipster-look/
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