Color Grading Breakdown Series – Shot 08

It’s been ages since I posted a breakdown! Nothing too crazy, but still fun to watch (I’m working on a much more complicated breakdown… coming soon!) Without further ado, here it is :

Color Grading Breakdown

I have to confess, I’m starting to fall for the “flat look”. Yes indeed…I’m liking creamy shadows nowadays. I think it can be beautiful if used wisely and more importantly if it doesn’t look like a straight out of the camera log.  I graded a Vans video a few days ago and it was a perfect project for this kind of grading. It had to be subtle, light and easygoing. As you probably noticed in the video above, the saturation is pretty important when doing this type of look. The last step is crucial if you don’t want to have that generic flat look.

Step 01
Primary Grading. The basic stuff. I balanced the colors, increased the brightness a little bit and added contrast with an S Curve. The curve affected mainly the middle portion of the dynamic range and kept the blacks almost as they were before.

Step 02
Using a very soft vignette, I brightened the edges of the frame (the interior of the vignette too, but much less) and added yellow in the highlights and the mids.

Step 03
I keyed the sky without affecting the clouds, lowered its exposure and shifted its color towards cyan (I have a huge crush on cyan). A saturation curve was also used to saturate the leather jacket.

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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: Vance Joy – Riptide


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. Alex Reply

    What do you mean by “flat look”?
    You didn’t use any lut and and began make a grade from a first node with a RAW image, right?

    • iseehue Reply

      When I mentioned “flat look”, I was talking about the end result. I never use LUTs in Lustre. I start with an RGB curve (which is kind of the same thing).

      Put simply: I tried to grade this project so that it would remain low con, similar to the LOG… but with a colorful and “graded” touch! :)

      • Alex Reply

        Thanks for your work! This is very useful.

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