Color Grading Breakdown Series – Shot 01

Welcome to the very first Color Grading Breakdown Series post! The Color Grading Breakdown Series will consist of recurring posts featuring a short breakdown video of a single specific shot. A very brief text will accompany the breakdown video, but the idea here is not to elaborate too much or to dive too deep in color grading analysis. It is rather to inspire other colorists by showing the different layers of a grade or or simply for pure grading enjoyment.

So here it is, the first Color Grading Breakdown Series video:

Did I just use the soundtrack for Snakes on a Plane? Yes.

Color Grading Breakdown

This music video was shot in three long takes and then merged into a single one, therefore requiring a lot of keyframed color adjustments so that the grade would evolve overtime and look good in the different environments. The grading was done in Adobe After Effects, my software of choice for heavy keyframing duty.

Step 01

An adjustment with 3 curves. The first one for the contrast and the 2 others for gamma and exposure.

Step 02

Another adjustment layer with a curve. This time only for grading using the red, green and blue channel.

Step 03

Double blended solid colors. A deep blue in classic color burn with a very low opacity and an orange in darken.

Step 04

A custom vignette with a very soft edge to darken the sides of the frame.

Step 05

Another custom vignette shaped around the talent with a curve inside to boost the midtones and highlights.

– – –

Well, that’s it for the first post of the Color Grading Breakdown Series! I’ll try to release a new breakdown on a weekly basis, so subscribe or come back every week for a fresh new grading breakdown.

Watch the full music video here.


Charles-Etienne Pascal is a freelance digital colorist working in Montreal, Canada. His line of work mainly consist of advertising, but he also very much enjoys grading music videos, short films and documentaries. Chuck likes photography, motorcycles, travelling, bouldering, guitar and of course color grading.
  1. Ryan Creason Reply

    It’s password protected :(

    Love your stuff btw!

    • iseehue Reply

      Wow you’re fast, I didn’t have the time to remove the pw hehe! It’s public now :)

      • Ryan Creason Reply

        Haha, that’s awesome, thanks for sharing. What program did you grade this in? And for adding in color with the solids w/blending modes, do you find that is the most effective way of achieving certain looks? Interesting to see because I use it from time to time grading in After Effects, but I don’t see solids w/blending modes used much in other tutorials.

        Thanks again!

        • iseehue Reply

          Thanks Ryan! The grading was done in After Effects. I wouldn’t say that using blending modes is the most effective way to achieve a look, because you can always achieve the same result by using the standard color grading tools, but it certainly is a great and fast way to experiment different looks. I usually know where I’m going when grading something, but sometimes you just want to play around and discover looks that you wouldn’t think of doing. I started using the the blending modes a lot in Photoshop, so why not have fun with them with moving pictures?

  2. phil wesson Reply

    Very cool! This method will help me learn even faster.

Leave a Reply


captcha *