Color Grading and Color Correction: Difference and Tips

Once your film or video has been shot, it’s time for post-production: editing, music, sound effects and, of course, color correction and color grading. But aren’t color grading and color correction actually the same thing?

In this article we will explain the difference between the two steps and show you how to get the most out of your material. We also look at ways to help you achieve your desired look even better.

What is the difference between color grading and color correction?

The video is cut, now it’s about the right look. For example, if you want to create a dark atmosphere in the direction of film noir, your emphasis will be on strong contrasts. Of course, it is important that you pay attention to the correct lighting when shooting.

But what’s the difference now?

Color correction is used for color matching and to correct problems. The goal of color grading is to adjust colors and contrasts, among other things, to give the material an artistic look.

How to use color correction

Color correction is used to correct color, exposure, contrast, or white balance issues to create a holistic overall image, and is a more technical process. It helps to go through the settings step by step, especially with each cutting sequence, so that nothing is overlooked. These include above all:

  • Colours
  • brightness
  • exposure
  • Contrast
  • white balance

Of course you always try to shoot the best source material when shooting yourself, but external factors tend to throw a spanner in the works. Natural lighting in particular can quickly transform an image with perfect white balance into an image with a yellow or blue tint. But ISO, shutter speed or a different cinema lens can also change the appearance.

In the color correction, it is now your task to match the look of the images to each other so that the subsequent color grading has the same effect on all images. Many simple editing programs already offer rudimentary functions for color correction, but for a really professional look there is often no way around a typical three-way color correction.

Find the desired look with color grading

After the color correction or adjustment, it’s time for color grading. Think about what look you want to achieve and what settings you want to make for it. For example, if it’s a dreamy situation, you can reduce the contrast and use a vignette. On the other hand, in a serious scene you’ll want more contrast and maybe a little more grain in the image depending on the look you want.

Always look for a benchmark, i.e. a look that you want to achieve. Beginners in particular tend to overdo the editing. You can not only be inspired by films, but you can also find impressive examples in commercials or music videos.

Color Grading: Use LUTs for a consistent look

The wheel does not always have to be reinvented: there are numerous professional LUTs on the Internet that will take care of the color grading to a large extent for you.

You can also find many interesting videos on YouTube that introduce you to a wide variety of LUTs. Here is an example of Color Grading Central.

By the way, you will also find many free providers in this area. In the end, the perfect look of your video should be worth something to you after all the hours of planning, shooting and editing and perfect your film.

Conclusion: First the color correction, then the color grading

To get the most out of the footage, there are many important factors. Starting with the source material that is as uniform as possible, moving on to color correction and finally color grading.