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