Color Grading or Color Correction

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Color Grading or Color Correction

Is there a difference between Color Grading of Color Correction? We have posted five examples below.

Colour correction is engaged to make everything look real with a full dynamic range and realistic color and tones – similar to documentaries and news reports and product advertising.

Colour grading is often used to craft the colour in the footage to complement and enhance the narrative of the story line. In deep, dark and moody films the colour is generally reduced in vibrance and saturation with an increase in contrast to convey a darker feeling, whereas, in a film about fashion and glamorous lifestyles for example, the color will be boosted to enliven the richness and boost the colourful narrative of the film.

Color grading is a construct, color correction is a faithful and true color reproduction.

The above scene of a vineyard has no LUT applied and is the original and unedited captured scene. Color correction and dynamic range need to be optimised. The scene below is color corrected with a custom LUT applied with a full tonal range. Continue below for variations.

The above scene now has now been optimised with a custom LUT applied, and is now displaying a full dynamic range and full wholesome color. Below are grading variations applied to the same image.

All of the following colour rendering techniques have been applied to the original color corrected version and keep in mind a rule abbout color correction and color grading;


Color correction should always be applied first to any video or photograph before applying any variation of color or mood.

In the above scene a variation of color grading has been applied with a custom LUT applied to alter the mood and feeling of the scene. The sky is more neutral in tone and the foreground has more color. Below is another variation.

A colour grading custom LUT as been applied to the above scene. This LUT is still applied to the color correcting LUT that was applied to the second image in this series. This version has a  reduced color palette, a neutral sky and a very different ‘feeling’  and mood. The variations that can applied to a color corrected LUT are almost endless. Below is another variation again.

Above is another custom LUT applied to render the scene with a completely different narrative more suitable for a dramatic outcome. The scene now has a strig sepia styled tone and an increase in contrast. We could use this LUT variation to dramatically alter the appeal of the scene. It can appear darker, more mood, and also, due to the sepia toe, older and antique in appearance.


Some further notes:

Color correction comes before colour grading in the majority of film editing practices, however, a talented colorist will know how to directly color grade without correcting first. But, for the majority of people and particularly for those that are not professional, it is wise advice that you should color correct before your color grade.

If you are wanting to color grade a variety of clips in an editing story line it is wise to color correct and match the color in all those clips, then apply a color grading effect.

As with all advice in film making and photography there are always exceptions to the rule, but effective and accurate color is the starting baseline and meaningful color grading is added later.



It is ultimately your choice to create, direct and choose the color pallete for the narrative of what you are making.


Read More:


Seeing colour – What we see, and what the camera sees.

What is a LUT?   

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