Color Grading Breakdown Series – Shot 04

Here’s this week’s breakdown :

Color Grading Breakdown

Color grading a music video is so different than a commercial. Both are fun to work on, but  music video clients usually give much more freedom to the director and the colorist. For this project, we decided to push to look towards something more stylized by adding purple in the shadows. You always have to be careful when you do this kind of effect… because it can quickly look like a generic filter or a preset from popular basic grading softwares.

Step 01
A simple S Curve to boost the contrast and a Saturation Curve to bring back some colors. Primary color grading to balance the image to a neutral state with a slight warm touch.

Step 02
Add purple in an expanded and blurred shadows matte. It’s important to blur the matte in order to get a smooth purple look that also bleeds in the midtones.

Step 03
Remove a notch and saturation and add soft vignettes to darken the edges.

Step 04
Isolate the blue stripes, use it as a matte and shift its colors towards purple/red to match the overall palette of the shot.

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Missed the previous shots from the Color Grading Breakdown Series? Catch up right 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. Jacken Reply

    That is one of my favorite looks from your works! May I ask, how do you decide what color will fit the scene the best? That purple in shadows is looking perfect. Did you try different hues and choose what looks the best to your eye or using color harmony theories as a guide? thanks!

    • iseehue Reply

      Thanks! I like it very much too. On a personal level, I would simply tell you that I like purple hehe (hence my logo)! On a technical level, the purple was a great choice because the majority of the set was yellow and orange. The combination of these (almost) complimentary colors feels natural and pleasing to the eye. And I did try different hues… magenta red, magenta blue, etc.

      • Jacken Reply

        thanks a ton!
        sorry for doubling comments on your blog. I got some weird issues with comments displayed.

  2. Sandeep Reply

    I love these breakdowns! Thanks for sharing.

    Btw, what’s this track called? I think it was used in a Nike spot as well.


    • iseehue Reply

      Hey Sandeep,

      The song is called The Future Starts Slow from The Kills.

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