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The Importance of Color Grading working with Log Footage


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Here's a film I shot in 2013 with the Sony F35 using Cineon colorspace with some impulz luts that I just went back in and graded.



Here's the original grade I did a year ago:



And here's the full short film - grade I wasn't able to help with due to my schedule.


It's subtle but the difference is big when going into Cineon camera space to work - what tectures one can get in.Also I worked more this time on vignette, on playing with sharpness and making grain and noise more subtle.

Also adding a blur to the outside of the footage.  

It's amazing how much you can change an image based on the grade - how important it all is.  And how I have developed my sensibilities in color since 2013.  How it comes from exposure to films that are shot very well - to learn to see with color and light - it's all trained experience that one gets from just watching more and more films.  How more and more I learned to care about the grade - to now want to be there to help with the grade.

We can really get into cameras, lenses, and more, but in the end, the edit and the grade are the gate keepers of image.  And image is very important for a story - it's a visual medium.  So much comes from the look of a film.  This isn't just radio.  Visuals are much of what a film is, and can help make or break the narrative.  Sometimes films can break out with poor narrative and poor acting and good cinematography, but it's a giant package.  


Just as in photography, a compelling photo could be framed poorly or well - and usually if it's framed better, it will overall be a more compelling experience.

The right angle, the right shot is so fascinating to chase - to be creative of where to put your camera to tell the story.

And more and more I think we cinematographers need to be there to help with the grade, to make sure we can help translate and get the final image to where we want it to be.  I saw this brought up in American Cinematographer and more and more I agree with this.  We need to be involved with the entire process.

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Wow. Huge difference here, in a very good way. Your new grade has a lot more emotional punch to it. The windows and reflections also look much better now that they aren't so blown out. The new grade made me feel more connected than the other two did. 

It is pretty amazing how subtly powerful color can be in a film. The most minor adjustments can make us distrust or fall in love or feel comforted or angry. It's dangerous- if you shoot a film and just send it off to a colorist to "make it look cool," you are potentially losing the soul of your film. 


Sometimes films can break out with poor narrative and poor acting and good cinematography, but it's a giant package.  

​Have you seen Lost River, directed by Ryan Gosling? Beautiful, beautiful movie, but it really missed the mark in most other areas of filmmaking. I think Gosling was trying too hard to be arthouse and it really made the movie fail in my opinion. I wasn't connected to the characters or what was happening. Dull acting, minimal character development, meandering plot. It's a shame because the premise is actually pretty good. The fact that it was shot so well made it even more disappointing. 

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