Introduction to Colour Grading of Video

Colour grading is a process of changing the appearance of an image or video to alter the feel of the presentation. Changes can be made to colour, saturation, brightness and contrast, through the videos/images highlight, mid-tones and shadow pixels.

Watch the short split screen video clip above to get a sense for how colour can affect the feel of footage.

Colour grading is usually done last in the post editing process after everything else.

vegas pro screenshot colour grading
vegas pro screenshot colour grading

I use Vegas Pro to do any video editing and it has everything you’d need to get the feel you want in your videos.

Vegas Pro allows you to make alterations to the pixel histogram, manipulating via the “levels” and “curve” control, as you would with photo editing software such as photoshop. This allows you to lighten or darken pixels across the range of pixels that make up the image, from shadows, mid-tones and highlights.

You can also make alterations to the colours in those areas, making the shadow areas of the image (darker areas) more blue, to add a feeling of coldness to them. Or you could add yellow into the mid-tones to add some warmth to your footage. In fact, you can add or take away, intensify or tone-down any colour you’d like.

If you have Vegas Pro you can fine-tune adjustments to your colour grading using some of the following options:

  • Lift
  • Gamma
  • Gain

Lift affects all areas. Gamma affects the middle or main area of your image. Gain affects the brightest highlights but leaves the middle and darks alone.

You can also make use of LUT’s to your video. LUT is an acronym for ‘Look Up Table’ and these hold a set of numbers which are looked up by the software you are using in order to change the colours of the image to a pre-determined setting. You can save your own settings into a LUT or download those done by other people.

The best way to get good at colour grading is to experiment and practice, to see what you like and don’t like. You can carve out your own colour grading style to your videos, so that they become a kind of signature for your work.