Colorists spend years learning their craft and tools, but there’s no reason that you can’t learn some of the basics such color theory, color matching, and color grading. Knowing and utilizing even the most basic color grading tricks will give your projects the professional boost they deserve. Luckily, there are loads of tutorials and plug-ins to help you achieve the best results in a fast and easy manner.
First, let’s get the whole color grading vs. color correction spelled out. Color correction is what you do first to fix contrast, skin tones, bad white balance, color shifts, and that type of thing.
Color grading is the process of modifying the tones and colors in your project to give your footage a look or mood. These tutorials and tools often can do both. Sci-fi films tend to have crushed blacks and blueish tones. Romance movies may have warmer tones and a softer color palate. Action films often have saturated and contrasting colors.
Color Grading and Color Correction Tutorials
Understanding Color Theory
Let’s start out with the very basics. If you don’t quite understand color theory, Blender Guru has a nice tutorial on understanding the basics, like complementary colors, split complementary colors, tertiary colors, etc.
Color Matching and Color Grading in FCP X
Premium Beat has a cool training feature that came out around NAB Show that goes through the basics of color grading using the color board in Final Cut Pro X. They also explain the process of matching color between shots that do not match. The tutorial comes with media that you can download so that you can play along. Color grading and color matching are great skills for any editor to have.
Premium Beat goes on to explain how to give your footage a vintage or retro feel. Check out their post, Learn Color Matching and Retro-Cool Color Grading in Final Cut Pro X, for more on that.
Matching Color Between Clips in FCP X
Larry Jordan also had a program on color matching.
Final Cut Pro X – Color Grading a Film Tutorial
Denver Riddle has a full hour-long class about color grading a feature film in Final Cut Pro X that will get you started.
Plug-ins for Color Grading and Color Correction
Hawaiki Auto Grade
Hawaiki Auto Grade is an automatic white balance correction tool with several of extra grading features. It’s fast and easy to use. It works in Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects & Motion. Buy Hawaiki Auto Grade at Toolfarm for just $46.55. It sells everywhere else for $49.
The video below is from Larry Jordan and he goes through some of the features in Auto Grade.
Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse
Synthetic Aperture Color Finesse – Standalone and plug-in for After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Premiere Pro. Now you can have telecine-style color correction that fits your workflow rather than imposing a new one. Color Finesse 3 gives you the high-end color correction and enhancement tools you need both as a plug-in for your favorite application.
Red Giant Colorista III
Red Giant Colorista III brings gorgeous color grading to your favorite editors and moves between them with consistent, natural-looking results. Its three stages of correction — Primary, Secondary, Master — use a color engine that’s similar to big-budget systems. Included with Red Giant Color Suite and works with After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro.
Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks
Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks works with After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere, FCP X, Motion, Avid and Sony Vegas. This is a tool for specifically color grading, and starts out very simple, with 100’s of beautifully designed presets and treatments, ranging from practical lighting to popular Hollywood looks. Or you can always create your own.
Tiffen Dfx is a standalone and plug-in for After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere, Final Cut Pro and FCP X, and Avid. Tiffen Dfx simulates 2,000+ popular award-winning Tiffen glass filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes, film grain, exacting color correction, plus natural light and photographic effects. The Tiffen Dfx digital filter suite is the definitive set of digital optical filters for top motion picture filmmakers, video editors, and VFX artists worldwide.
Boris Continuum Unit: Color and Tone
Boris Continuum Unit: Color and Tone unit is for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro and Motion and it brings professional grade color grading tools to the table. It includes videoscope monitoring to ensure that your colors are safe. BCC 3 Way Color Grade lets you independently adjust the bright, mid, and dark region of a clip via built-in color spheres which are not only easy to use but offer real-time results. BCC Color and Tone filters are also included with Boris Continuum Complete.
Yanobox Moods – Plug-in for FCPX, Motion, Premiere Pro and After Effects. Moods is a unique color grading plug-in with a full-screen interface.
Nattress Levels and Curves
Nattress Levels and Curves are plug-in for FCP, Motion, and After Effects that use the power of curve-based color adjustments applied in film-log space.
Nattress Advanced Plug-ins for Apple’s Color
Nattress Advanced Plug-ins for Apple’s Color ColorFX nodes give users immense flexibility. You can use the built-in functionality of Color to save and load your favorite combinations or settings.