Color Grading in Video Production – Color Grade Your Footage

By Scott Davis

| Video Production


The Role of Color Grading in Video Editing and Film Production

Have you ever wondered how filmmakers achieve a certain “look” in their film or videos? From making the colors pop to establishing mood and texture, the art of color grading helps filmmakers craft distinct visuals that can captivate audiences. Today we’ll explore what exactly color grading is, why it matters for video production and some tips for creating effective color grades in post production video editing. Color can be a powerful tool in video design, and when used properly, you’ll find that it stands out to viewers on an emotional level. However, if you’re not familiar with color grading techniques yet or don’t know where to start — never fear! By understanding key aspects of color theory involved in successful grades as well as learning how professional film directors and editors use them to tell stories through visuals, you will soon have all the knowledge and resources needed to make your very own beautiful cinematic masterpiece.

What is Color Grading?

Color grading is the process of changing or enhancing the colors of a video or film to achieve a desired look or tone. It’s an essential aspect of video editing and post-production, allowing filmmakers to create just the right mood in their shots for their visual storytelling. Whether you’re a professional filmmaker or just starting out, understanding color grading can greatly improve the quality of your film or videos.

Why Color Grade Your Video?

Color grading can help you tell your story more effectively. It can enhance the emotion and mood of your video, and make it more visually appealing to your audience. Using color grading can also make your film or video look more polished and professional, which can lend credibility to your brand or message. By adjusting the colors in your footage, you can create a more cohesive and professional look that draws viewers in and keeps them watching. Not only does it add aesthetic value, but color grading can also help convey emotions, set the tone, and enhance the overall storytelling of your video.

Basics of Color Grading and Video Color

Before you get started using your editing software to color grade your film or video footage, let’s quickly discuss some basic concepts you’ll be dealing with when working with your color tools.


Or Hue, Saturation, Brightness. These qualities can be adjusted to create the look you’re trying to find.


Hue is the color or shade.


This is how vivid the color is or how much gray it contains. Less saturation makes your color more muted.


Or Luminance. Between black and white, where does your color falls.

RGB and Color Theory

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue. Essentially, RGB assigns values to each of the three primary colors in order to create millions of colors with various combinations of red, green, and blue. This is done by manipulating the light emitted by pixels in a display. By varying the intensity of each of the three colors, we are able to create a wide spectrum of hues, shades, and tints in your color.  Become as familiar with color theory as you can. It will help you immensely in color correction and color grading.


Essentially, exposure refers to the amount of light that enters the camera lens and lands on the camera sensor, which ultimately determines the brightness and detail in the resulting image. Too much light can make the colors look bleached, too little and your colors will be too dark. This exposure can be adjusted through various camera settings such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, but it’s important to strike a balance that ensures clarity without sacrificing the overall aesthetic of your film or video. In your video editor program, you can fine-tune the exposure to achieve the desired look and feel, making sure that each frame of your video is pleasing to the eye.

White Balance

White balance is the process of making sure that white objects in your video look truly white, without any unwanted casts of blue, yellow, or other colors. This is important because it can drastically affect the overall look and feel of your video. Without proper white balance, skin tones can look unnatural and colors can appear dull or oversaturated. Luckily, most modern cameras and editing software have features and tools that make this process a breeze, allowing you to achieve the perfect white balance in your shots every time.

Starting Your Color Grading

Now let’s jump into getting your film or video footage color graded. There are a couple things to keep in mind when setting your expectations when color grading. First, the video footage you receive will greatly influence how much you’ll be able to do on your end. If the exposure is too high or low, or the colors look completely wrong, there might be some fixes you can apply but you may be limited in your options. Likewise, your experience and skill level should be taken into account. An exceptional editor or colorist can work some magic in post-production even with footage from a smartphone, but someone with less experience or skills might have a hard time with video from a top of the line camera. You’re going to want to start with video color correction.

Color Correction

Color correction is different than color grading but color grading includes the color correction process. Color correction involves fixing any color imbalances or other technical issues with the footage. It’s important to finish this step before moving on to color grading your video project or it will be more difficult to fix later.

What to do with Dark Footage

What do you do if you look at your video footage and find it’s darker than anticipated or darker than the rest of your scenes? Maybe the camera settings weren’t adjusted correctly or the lighting wasn’t adequate. Whatever the cause may be, don’t worry, there are solutions. Firstly, consider adjusting the brightness and contrast levels. This can greatly improve the overall brightness of the footage. Secondly, try enhancing the shadow and highlight details, which can decrease the harsh contrast between the brighter and darker areas. Lastly, you may want to change the color balance to make the footage appear warmer or cooler depending on the desired effect.

What About Footage That’s Too Light?

Too light or overexposed photography can also be a big problem, but again there are some solutions.  There are plenty of tools available to brighten up your video in post-production. One option is to adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation. Another option is to use the split-toning technique, which involves adding a tint to shadows and highlights.

Color Matching Your Scenes

Once you have a the look you want in a scene of your film or video, you want to make sure every scene and shot is matching in color and looks like they’re in the same project. Use your first scene as your guide to match your project.

Using LUTs with Color Grading

LUT stand for “Look Up Table” and it is essentially a preset that adjusts the colors in your footage to a specific style or look. This can range from a warm, cinematic feel to a cool, desaturated look. By using a LUT, you can save time and effort compared to manually adjusting each individual color correction setting. However, it’s important to keep in mind that LUTs are not a one-size-fits-all solution. You may need to tweak the settings to fit your specific footage or adjust the intensity of the effect.

Color Grading Finishing touches

Once you think you’ve finished your color grading, sit back and take a look at your project again. There will undoubtedly be some last tweaks you can make to create the perfect look. When looking at the video as a whole does it look consistent? Now’s the time to make any last minute changes before hanging your masterpiece on the wall.

Color Grading Makes Your Videos and Photography Dynamic

Color grading is a valuable video editing step that can take your video or film to the next level. Whether you’re making a feature film, short independent production, commercial spot, music video or something else entirely, color grading can enhance the feelings evoked in each scene and make it reflect its intended tone in an unmistakable way. With the right tools and techniques, you can create eye-catching footage that sets the right mood of your storyline and gives your audience a viewing experience unlike any other. You put a lot of time and effort into producing a great video, so why not equip yourself with knowledge about how to make sure it looks the best? If you’d like help with color grading or any video editing work, contact BLARE Media today!