Color Grading Breakdown Series – Shot 07

It’s time for a new Color Grading Breakdown!

Color Grading Breakdown

For this week’s Color Grading Breakdown, I picked a shot from a music video I shot and directed a little over a year ago. I chose this shot because it was done with very basic gear that most of you guys should have acces too: a Canon Rebel T3i, a tripod (optional), a computer, a friend and a street. Get out there, shoot something and grade it! That’s pretty much what I did. Since I was working for myself without any clients, I did my grading in After Effects. I knew I wanted something greenish and stylized… but wasn’t exactly sure where to start, so I experimented while still loosely following my usual recipe.

Step 01
I cranked up the exposure by pushing the mids and the highlights with a curve.

Step 02
Still using curves, I crushed the blacks and added a soft oval vignette.

Step 03
Trying to find my look, I cooled down the image by lowering the red channel of the curve. It was a bit too bluish, so I did the same thing to the blue curve on another layer to get closer to my greenish look.

Step 04
I liked the green, but it looked too harsh and contrasty. At that point, I wanted something dreamy and softer. I lifted the blacks and removed a lot of saturation while still keeping a trace of that green tinge.

Step 05
I added two new layers and loaded two different flares in each of them using Videocopilot’s Optical Flares. The first one was used to veil the sky and the buildings a little a bit and the second one was added right in the middle to simulate a sun ray shining directly into the camera. I aslo added one last layer of blur around the edges.

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Missed the previous shots from the Color Grading Breakdown Series? Catch up right here!

Watch the full music video here.

Music: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Immigrant Song


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.

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