Grading & Art Direction

Quick Tip

Color grading is often considered as something very technical and complex, but it sometimes can be very simple when you take a step back and analyze it. The video below is neither spectacular nor technically impressive, but it demonstrates an elementary principal of color grading: maintaining a color palette throughout a film, a scene or a project.

I have always been a strong advocate of preproduction and “get it in camera”. The best projects are when the heads of each creative department research and develop a look and a palette before they even think about cameras, lenses, angles, visual effects, etc. But, nowadays, because of all the new raw cameras that give us so much control in post, there is a tendency to forget all this process that needs to be done before the shoot. Some department heads rely too much on post production to get the look they want. Well, if there is no color in the shot, you can’t really create it. I’m not a chef but… color grading is like spices: it’s just one part of a good recipe!

Unfortunately, there are often budget and time constraints and no matter how hard you work in preproduction, something will slip through the cracks. And that is when color grading comes to the rescue.

Here’s the example I want to discuss in this post :

Like I wrote above, nothing fancy or impressive here. But it’s still an important observation. The pink wall wasn’t ugly or that distracting, it just wasn’t in the color palette at all.

Take a look at some screenshots I took from the music video :

As you can see, there is nothing in there that justifies the pink wall. Even if it did, it would have to come back often in the scene or project to have a relevance. Cyan is clearly the dominant color throughout the shots. It was of course emphasized during the color grading process, but if you look at the shirt the main actor is wearing, the walls and other pieces of clothing, cyan is there. It’s a great job done by the art director who I assume took the time to match his costumes and props to the look of the location. Thanks to him, all I had to do to create the look was to add more cyan in the shadows and the highlight.

Why was this wall pink? I don’t know. Maybe this angle wasn’t planned. A film set can get messy… things go so fast and you have so little time to oversee everything. Eventually a small detail here and there gets lost. Anyways, the director knew about it and we fixed it in post!

Check out the full music video here!

Director: Eno
Cinematography: Simon Villeneuve
Art Director: Sylvain Dion
Editing: Phil Gariépy
Production: Romeo & Fils
Color Grading: Charles-Etienne Pascal
Graded @ SHED

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. Taylre Jones Reply

    Man, Vimeo sure doesn’t do it justice when comparing it to the stills. Good old web compression!

    • iseehue Reply

      Indeed! Stills are always better.

  2. Dant Jo Reply

    Did you used a keyer for the wall ?


    • iseehue Reply

      If I remember correctly, yes. I might have used a hue curve too.

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