Color grading is the part of video post-production where you start making artistic choices with the color of the footage. It's quite different from color correction, which is where your goal is to fix basic elements such as white balance or exposure to get the footage in a usable state. Here are some tips that you should follow when making color grading changes to your footage.
Know Your Motivation
A common mistake that people make when color grading is exaggerating the color to an extreme level, but with no clear reason why. You always want to ask yourself why the footage should look a certain way and how it helps tell your story. Are you making the footage black and white because you can, or because it helps tell the viewer what parts of your story may be a flashback or non linear to the main storyline? When making creative decisions over the color grading, know that there is no right and wrong way to do it. If you can justify your reasons behind your color grading, you'll create a look that is meaningful.
Know You Can't Always Fix Bad Footage
Color grading can really transform the look of your video, but you can't always fix bad footage when color grading. It is important that everything was shot properly on set for you to make adjustments in post-production. You cannot bring back details if they were never there in the first place. Understand that you are going to be limited if the footage was not exposed properly and you've lost details in the whites and blacks. For example, if the sky was over exposed, you won't be able to bring back the details of the clouds. While sky replacement is an option with visual effects, you'd rather not have to go there.
Know The Benefits Of Raw Footage
Many cameras these days are shooting in raw video formats, which captures an image in the uncompressed format directly from the lens of the camera. You do not get any of the compression that comes from converting it first to a video file, which allows you much better control over things such as exposure and white balance. This can give you greater control over your footage to make creative color grading choices that would be difficult or impossible to perform when using a compressed video format.
With these three tips in mind, you'll be on a good path when color grading your footage. To learn about color grading software, contact a company like Cinema Grade.