This One Grading Secret Applies Color Theory in Films Almost Instantly

This One Grading Secret Applies Color Theory in Films Almost Instantly


Of course the art department and the director
of photography plays a key role in creating the look but… what can we
do in the color grade to enhance or take those ideas further? Can we actually change the colors in a scene
or come up with different color designs? Hey guys Denver Riddle with you here and like
you I love the way different grading can affect the feel and mood of a scene. For instance I bet this image gives you a
sad, dramatic feeling…. While this one makes you feel calm and hopeful. In fact you might not know anything about
the story and yet you still get the mood of the scene based on color. And this is known as color theory. So beyond just making images look pretty or
slapping on a LUT we can use color theory to convey emotion and help give context to
our stories. The colors we choose intentionally in our
art direction or in our color grade is known as color design or color scheme and these
can all be classified with the help of our good friend the color wheel. Now while the study of how different colors
impact our psychology while it can be very in-depth I want to instead focus on the practicality
and how we can apply color theory in our films in the color grade. And there’s two ways I’m going to reveal this,
one way using the built-in color tools and the other with Cinema Grade. But first let’s review some different color
design or color schemes. If you choose for your film a monochromatic
or single hue color scheme, this means your film is tinted primarily with just one color,
like this scene from Kill Bill. An analogous color scheme, uses colors that
sit next to each other on the color wheel, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is an excellent
example of this. A Complementary color scheme, uses two colors
that sit opposite to each other on the color wheel, the most famous instance of this is
the famous Teal and Orange look we find in hundreds of film. And the list goes on, there’s split complementary,
three way split, four way split. You name it. Now that you know some of these I suggest that you look for
examples of different color schemes used in different films and see if you can identify
what color schemes are being used. Like I did recently. I was watching the film Terminal, which is
visually very interesting and has some beautiful art direction in it. It didn’t take long for me to realize that
it uses all the different color schemes imaginable. So it is a great case study for us! For instance in this dinner scene here we
see a hexadic color scheme, consisting of 6 different colors. That’s pretty difficult to find and accomplish. Now there’s two ways we can go about adding
or affecting the color design in the color grade. We can of course push colors into the tonal
range using the color wheels. Or we can alter or enhance the art direction
using secondary or isolated correction tools and it’s the latter method that I think we
can have some fun with and explore different color schemes. In this first example from the Terminal it
has Cyan, Red, Yellow and Orange colors. We can explore different color schemes easily
with Cinema Grade, that works in Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro X and DaVinci Resolve on the
Mac. To change the color all I need to do is just
click over the area I want to change, and drag up or down to change the color. This is called Direct Grading on the image
and let me quickly show you how it works. To transform this image into an Analogous
color scheme of magenta and blue I’ll select HSL Vector Tool click over on this red area
and drag to change it to magenta. Then I’ll click over the countertop and drag. I’ll tweak it selecting and dragging over
a few more colors, and that’s it. As I toggle the correction on and off you
can see we’ve turned this into an Analogous color scheme in the vectorscope. Now I’ll reset this and create a complementary
color scheme of red and cyan with just with a few clicks. And a badddda bing, baddda bang! !!! that
looks great! I’ll reset that and now let’s try a third
scheme. This time we’ll give this image a Sin City
vibe, with a monochromatic scheme based on orange. I’ll turn reds into orange and desaturate
all the other hues. Isn’t that Awesome!?! We can experiment with several different color
schemes using the same image with Cinema Grade. Of course this works a little bit different
with the built in tools you’ll find in Adobe Premiere, DaVinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro
X but you can do the same thing. To do isolated corrections quickly we’ll use
the Hue vs Hue Curve. Let’s see how to do this. Here in Resolve we have Simon Pegg looking
quite surprised. There is red, orange, cyan and blue on this
image. We can clearly see these colors represented
in the Vectorscope. Going to the Hue vs Hue Curve, Let’s say we
want to alter the complementary color design to give us more of a red and cyan color contrast. To do that we’ll click over a blue area to
create a point for that range and drag the middle point up, moving those hues towards
cyan. We’ll do the same for the orange hues moving
them towards red. We’ll refine this by widening the hue selections
a little bit and add some extra points until all hues fall into an intense red and cyan
complementary color design. Let’s see the before and after a couple of
times so you can see the color scheme represented in the vectorscope. You can see in this new design the trace sits
opposite each other on red and cyan. Now in Premiere on this next clip you can
see in the vectorscope that we have mainly red, green and blue. So let’s say we want to simplify the color
scheme into an analogous color scheme where the colors all sit near red and orange. We’ll isolate the green and blue range with
the help of the eyedropper and drag them up. We’ll create a point for red, so it remains
unchanged and create a point for magenta and drag it down, moving it towards red. And now we have an analogous scheme. Let’s watch the before and after a couple
of times so we can see the change in the vectorscope. Finally in our third example and this time
inside Final Cut Pro X we have an image with red, orange, yellow and cyan. Let’s explore a Complementary color scheme
made up of yellow and Blue. First, we’ll isolate the cyan range with the
eyedropper over the cabinet doors. And then we’ll drag the middle point down
moving the hue towards blue. We’ll refine our selections by widening the
range. Then we’ll do the same for the orange and
yellow hues, creating a few more points to refine the selection. Lastly let’s use the Hue vs Sat curve too,
to reduce the saturation in the reds and greens. Here’s the before and after a couple of times
so you can see the change in the vectorscope. So that is how you can apply color theory
and explore different color designs in your color grading. As you can see you can do this with the built-in
tools but it’s a lot easier and intuitive when you can make those changes directly to
the image with Cinema Grade. Now if you’re wondering what Cinema Grade
is or you’re a content creator that needs to do professional color grading but you don’t
have the time to specialize as a colorist it’s a plugin that works inside of Premiere
Pro, DaVinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro X on the Mac. You can do all your color grading there with
direct on screen grading, lightroom style controls, false color mode for landing the
correct exposure and real time previews of LUTs and presets. If you want to find out more about the Cinema
Grade, you can either click on the card above or the link the description. Now if you’re on Windows or you just need
step-by-step guide with the native tools. I want to invite you to our 1-hour
color grading workshop where I reveal my top grading secrets that have had the biggest
impact on my career, you can either click the card above or click the link in the description
below to save your seat. I’ll also point out that if color theory is
something that you’re into or you want to find out more about how to apply it in your color grading
we cover that in-depth in our Color Grading Academy and we’ll have a special offer for it at the end of the workshop. So be sure to check out Cinema Grade or save your seat to the workshop, click the subscribe button and then the bell for more grading videos! I hope you enjoyed this video, if it was helpful
let me know in the comments below, if there’s something you’d like to see or how to create
the look of particular film, let me know and have a great day! Cut!

13 thoughts on “This One Grading Secret Applies Color Theory in Films Almost Instantly

  1. Was sold….til NO Windows version. Bring it to Windows. Are you guys working on a Windows version or just sticking with iOS?

  2. Hey Denver, informative video as always. You should continue with these tutorials as you're hands down the best resource for colour theory on here! All the best

  3. This "technique" would create such an awful quality of image that even youtube compression could save the resulting video. The half red – half orange hair of the bearded guy and the noise on the window glass in the second photo are glaring examples of that. And why don't you let the graded footage pay forward so we can have a laugh?

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