I have had a sit down discussion with the team here, and we are thrashing out the final bits and pieces of our workflow for the project. We are finding it rather unique, in the way that we will have to employ different workflows specifically tailored to specific shot types - IE - the workflow for a set of 4 characters sitting is a ship bridge, would be different to the workflow for creating an exterior space flight scene. I assume this is normal, and I am not going completely mad, but the question of colour correction VS colour grading has been raised again now.
There is so much confusion online, as the terms are used very interchangeably - In my view, it boils down to this:
1) Colour correction = getting each element on its own layer to match the other elements on the other layers within a particular comosition - in other words, making it look like the ship was actually shot against the selected background
2) Colour Grading = Applying a final "Look" on the entire scene/production. - EG. desaturating all elements to provide a harsh "Flying over a desert" feel.
3) Colour correction = performed per layer/per comp
4) Colour Grading = performed at the end as one of the final steps
Apart from the actual understanding of what the terms mean, and where they fit in, I am trying to figure out how it would best work in our workflow, and what tools are best to accomplish the task.
I have an example scene that I would like to discuss, and get the forums opinion on how we go about it.
A space ship flying against a star background. 2 shots in the scene, each comprising of 3 layers - Layer 01=space scene, layer 02=engine flare, layer 03=filmed space ship (each with different lighting)
In After Effects, I create the space scene and the lens flare for each shot and import the 2 footage items. I then do the composite, and end up with two complete shots. The client comes in, and decides that he prefers shot 01, as it is darker and more to his taste. Would I be correct in saying that at this point in the workflow, I should use colour correction tools to match the two elements (working within shot 02's composition) ? The tools used would be a possible combination of Curves,levels,brightness/contrast or SA Color Finess.
Once I have the two shots matched, the client then decides that the dome of the ship is too black, he would prefer to bring the purple hue out a bit more - now, still in after effects and still using the same tools (with the exception of brightness/contrast), I get the colours of the dome more to his liking - (maybe upping saturation, maybe using masks, etc). At this point, I have a completed shot, that is pretty much 100% how the client wants it to look in the final render.
Once all the shots for the scenes are done, and the scenes are handed to the editor and placed into a complete timeline, this is the point where we decide on each scenes specific "feel". The scenes are then rendered out (as intermediates) and a tool like speedgrade is used to apply a a colour grade - knowing that this adjustment will affect the entire composite, and not just elements within it (like the dome and not the flare for instance)
Those are the thoughts I am struggling with at the moment - I hope it makes sense to the readers, and is not really as jumbled as I fear it might be!
The bottom line is this - I am trying to find the most optimized way to get the best possible output, using the correct tools at the correct time (and of course, in the correct Application - AE, Prem or Speedgrade).
I still need to do some reading up on speedgrade, as I am not 100% sure how it fits into the production workflow between AE and Prem. I remember chatting about it previously and will go back to those chats for clarity)
Thank you all for your time
"Bringing out the purple hue a bit more" is definitely color grading not color correction. If they're gonna get that picky on the color that early in the workflow, I'm not sure you can do much color grading after that as they've already locked down what they want it to look like.
Thanks for the reply. Are you suggesting then, that the "normal" way to do this, is to get the shots to match and leave it at that, get the scenes all edited together, and only then bringing the desired colours out? How would you do this later on in the project, if the layers are all baked into an intermediate render?
How would you do this later on in the project, if the layers are all baked into an intermediate render?
Colorists always have masks, mattes, power windows, custom shapes or whatever they called in their toolkit.
well, so far this is great - it has shown that my selected workflow has a few issues, and that we might not need to do "As much" work so early on in the workflow as I thought. If I can get the shots and elements to match within a scene, using the AE tools I mentioned above, and the output is still a rather "flat" image (having originated from RAW footage), I can use the AE color management tab when interpreting the footage to perform a "Light look" by setting the white point, the ISO and thats about it. Once this is done, per footage element, I can take it through the process of matching the elements, and rendering out my JPEG2000 intermediates, with the comfort and knowledge that once the project episode is complete, and edited into a complete sequence, we can take that sequence to something like speedgrade and bring the nicwer colour out at that stage.
Does that sound right?
Does that sound right?
Yes, it does. Aside from the fact it is just one of sound scenarios. In real life projects resourses can be allocated in various ways and performing tasks may overlap or go in parallel, not just sequentially.
The most important thing to do is to create a looks or color bible. Take a few shots and grade them through what you think will be the final, then flatten that a bit so that you have room in final color grading to make more corrections. Publish this color bible and have it available online for everyone that has anything to do with the production from the filming, to the model making, to the compositing. Without an approved and locked color bible for your project you're headed for a headache.
Thank you for the advice. I agree that it is a good idea to get the specific ships and sets graded as early as possible into the workflow, and that way, come to an agreement of what we are working towards.
Please can you explain what you meant by this?
Rick Gerard wrote:
"then flatten that a bit so that you have room in final color grading to make more corrections"
What does "Flatten" mean exactly?
Put very simply Flatten means to reduce the contrast. You want as much room to adjust things as you can get down the road. When you setup a look for a camera the best option is to have the image as flat as possible so that the blacks are not crushed and the whites are open. Think of curves. ⎠is not flat, / is. Here's an example from a GoPro set to Raw (flat) that I crushed the blacks lifted the mids and and the whites on the top compared to the flat original image. Once those blacks are crushed and whites are pushed up it's very hard to get them back later.
Thank you - makes sense now. I am busy figuring out the final bits to our workflow, chatting away, and wishing there was a "Make it look like this" button!
I am trying to get to the point, where I can gaurentee that the output, in the clients requested format, looks exactly the same as it does on my PC, within the After Effects composition. I Have so far, thanks to the help from Fuzzy, been able to get my JPEG2000 intermediates to look 100% the same within the AE comp, If I import the rendered JPEG2000 clip, place it as the top layer in my timeline and set to "Difference" it is a perfect match.
Its when I try things like OMX FP1a and the like that I notice differences.
Anyway, back to the drawing board...
I am kind of leaning towards this scenario, at least for the Pilot, and maybe even the first season of our project:
As we dont have a colourist as such on the team, and I am the colour department , I think it might be easier to sit with each shot, and a colour bible as Rick suggested. If we shoot, send proxies to Premier, create a rough cut and send back to me in After Effects, I can essentially complete the entire shot, including final colour (According to a set of agreed upon images per asset) and export an intermediate with, lets say, 30 frames on each side as handles and hand that to the editor to use in the final scene edit. once all the scenes are edited and cut together, we import them into a final episode edit, and perform a final grade - if needed to give the episode a specific "Feel" if desired.
I feel that doing more colour grading at the final stage would be more complicated for us, not having access to each layer individually, and not bein trained on the colour applications.
Does this make sense, or am I once again babbling merrily to the voices in my head!