The Future of Color Correction

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When talking about color correction, this should suggest mainly a process that is used in photography, cinematography, stage lighting or television which purpose is to edit the overall amount of light or color (Jackman, 2004). Though, this task involves more than that, as the colorist still experiences within the world of magic. However, this article is intended to define, explain and predict the immediate future of the process of color correction. Therefore, the first part of the article will deal with details, namely what color correction includes, how it is done and what is the job of a colorist. However, the second part of the article will try to explain or more likely to anticipate the future of color correction.

Related to the human visual system, it processes luminance entirely separately from color. Hence, the eyes perceive visual cues from the image luminance or tonality, which have an acute effect on how the eye gets to distinguish sharpness from depths or organization of subjects within a scene (Hurkman, 2011). Therefore the colorist’s job is to often integrate and combine different conventions to create completely new and uncommon looks (Wohl and Gross, 2010).

For instance, the fact that the look of a film has a greater impact on the tone and atmosphere of the piece and as well as a significant outcome on the audience’s views of the material, is rather under-appreciated because the colorist might create high-contrast looks in order to draw attention on something that suggest urgency and importance or he decides for a range of gray shades to tell the audience that the plot is more dashed and complicated;  whereas a warm cast of color that comprise colors which are shifted towards orange might show a warmer or nostalgic tone, while a shift towards blue might indicate a bit of a scientific feel (Wohl and Gross, 2010).

Color correction from warm to cold

Left: The original image seems very cold | Right: The image appears warmer after adding color correction

Moreover, another job that the colorist has to do in any other way is related to storytelling as he has to work with the whole team of producers, directors, cinematographers and editors in order to interpret the story in a consistent but credible way (Wohl and Gross, 2010).  This has to take place because in the end the audience is not really interested in how the footage got on the screen, and the choices that the colorist did in order to grade the footage will contribute at how the audience absorbs the content within the whole story (Wohl and Gross, 2010).

In order to do his job, the colorist needs his own tools which are quite straightforward: contrast and color which further suggest lots of varieties of combinations based on these attributes and even within those categories the image can be looked after in many ways which comprise shadow, midtones and highlights; red, green, blue; hue, saturation and lightness (Wohl and Gross, 2010). There are powerful and effective color grading controls available in a wide range of software that includes Apple Color, DaVinci Resolve, Assimilate Scratch and Iridas Speed Grade as well as in some applications ranging from editorial, composing and finishing applications such as SGO Mistika, Autodesk Smoke, Avid DS, Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas Pro (Hurkman, 2011). Last but not least, there are applications such as Adobe After Effects and The Foundry’s Nuke that comprise color correction capabilities developed in it but only primarily for plate matching and effect work but they are not often used for full-bore grading work (Hurkman, 2011).

Final Cut Pro Color Correction

However, sometimes color correction appears to be a bit an intuitive process in the sense  that compositors usually try something until they get it all together because it is important to understand the ‘math’ that lays behind color correction which may help one choose the right tool for the job to attempt reaching a very specific result (Ganbar, 2011). Moreover, there is nothing like a software color correction as all it is done in some kind of hardware because usually the ‘clients’ or the ‘creator’ wants to see the changes immediately ‘as the bigger he systems you have got, the faster it goes’ (Steve Brett, 2011).

Before and After Color Correction

On the other hand, it is said that the demand of color correctors would not be that high in growth because most of the sales would come from servicing and upgrading the already existing suites (Dado Valentic, 2011). Moreover, the market for high-end hardware systems is still there, but in the end if the artist wants to reach a higher level of professionalism he will have to invest in a more powerful hardware of dedicated color system. In the end, cheap color correction software already exist but  thr clients and the colorists do not want to be limited by speed so here comes very helpful a powerful hardware (Steve Bennerman, 2011). Nevertheless, it is believed that due to the economic crisis more and more of postproduction work will need to be done nearby the shooting location in parallel with the production and really fast in time, namely in the weeks following after (Dado Valentic, 2011).

In conclusion, color correction is among of the most important procedures to be done regarding an image as it refers to the adjustments of color of that image (Ganber, 2011). Though, this article was intended to give a lighter perspective of the uses of color correction, namely making the image lighter, changing the contrast or saturation, making the image look different in terms of a realistic style or combining images as they are part of the same scene (Ganber, 2011). Some of these aspects were discussed in the very first part of this article, which rather suggests a theoretical perspective. However, the second part of the essay approaches a future perspective of color correction as the biggest companies will still be on top because they are investing a lot of money in hardware equipment compared to post-editing companies.

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PS: This was an essay made for my module at The University of Bradford. The module is called: ‘Matchmoving for VFX’. Please do not attempt to copy this essay, if you do so you might have problems with plagiarism. Thanks !

References :

Brett, S, Velntic, D and Bannerman, S (2011)

What is the Future of the Big Color Grading Systems? | Below the Line. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.btlnews.com/crafts/post-production/what-is-the-future-of-the-big-color-grading-systems/. [Accessed 12 November 2012];

Joe Simon, (2012), DaVinci Resolve Before and After [ONLINE]. Available at: http://s7.postimage.org/unlsizy2j/Joe_Simon_Resolve_Before_After.png [Accessed 12 November 12];

Ganber, R (2011) Nuke 101 Professional Compositing and Visual Effects;

Jackman, J (2004) Lighting for Digital Video and Television, 2nd ed. Focal Press;

Hurkman, A (2011) Color Correction Handbook, Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema, Peachpit Press;

Wohl, M and Gross, D (2010) Color Correction in Final Cut Studio, Grading and Correcting with Final Cut Pro 7 and Color 1.5, Peachpit Press;

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