[*disclaimer* This tutorial is done on a PC, and therefore the shortcuts and directories may be different, depending on your machine or OS. This tutorial will only provide very basic skills.]
In this tutorial I will show you a few things that I do when I am coloring a finished video, and it will give you basic knowledge on how to start coloring using Adobe Speedgrade. When I shoot wedding videos, I make sure to shoot in a flat color scheme (low contrast, low sharpness, low saturation). This way when I bring it over into Speedgrade, I have much more room for correction. Doing it this way will give less blown out highlights, and the camera is able to capture much more information.
For reference I will use a wedding video that I finished up a few months ago.
Assuming you are using Adobe Premier, it is very simple to put a project into Speedgrade.
With the finished edited video up in premier, you are going to want to go to File > Send to Adobe Speedgrade.
It will then prompt you to save the new files. Make sure you have ample space, and this will render the video out into a new format. I would suggest saving this in the same parent folder as you original video.
When you have saved the files, it will render it and send you into Speedgrade, and this is where we will start our tutorial.
Rather than applying coloring directly to a video clip like in Premier or Final Cut, Speedgrade uses a sort of layer system, similar to that of Photoshop.
You should see something similar to this when you enter Speedgrade (ignore the finished coloring), although your setup may differ due to some work space changes that I have made.
In the picture above I labeled a few things that you need to understand in order to use this program.
1 – This is the area where you will see your histogram, vectorscope and any other tools that Speedgrade offers to assist you in coloring.
2 – This area allows you to choose how much of your timeline you would like to see at one time. You can see all of it, 6 seconds of it, or you can set a certain length with the last button.
3 – This is the button where you can click and drag from, in order to create new color grading layers (which will be explained later).
4 – These are you playback controls, which are basically the same as any other editing software.
5 – This is the color grading area itself. This is where you will spend the majority of you time coloring your clip. Within this you can see a layers panel on the left, as well as different buttons allowing you to switch between your overall clip, your shadows, your midtones, and your highlights.
Instead showing you how I went about coloring the entire video, I’m going to focus on just the clip that is shown at the 3:05 – 3:07 mark. (shown below)
In the before picture you can see that the highlights are very dull and the overall feel of the shot is very boring. However, in the after shot there will be a very nice contrast and a very soft “faded” feel, that is popular in today’s videos.
Like mentioned earlier, you do not apply coloring directly to the clip in Speedgrade. Instead you apply it to the coloring layer that is above the clip. When you enter into Speedgrade you will notice that there is no color grading layers available yet. In order to start coloring you need to click on the “add a new color grading layer” button as mentioned earlier, and apply a coloring layer above your desired clip. You can change the size of this layer to cover as much as you would like. You should end up with something looking similar to this.
To get started with coloring, make sure the new color layer is selected and make sure the “Look” tab is selected below.
As mentioned earlier, there is several ways you can color your video at this point. You can color the video as a whole, or color the shadows, mid tones, and highlights separately. One of the greatest things about Speedgrade is that the saturation, temperature, tint and exposure settings are all together in the same tab. You won’t need separate plugins, or even separate layer to changes all of this things.
For this video, I noticed that it was going to need more highlights as well as more mid tones, and a softer feel.
So on this look tab, with your color layer selected, you can start to tweak some of these settings.
Within each selection there are three main dials: Offset, Gamma, and Gain. These are very important when coloring.
Offset – controls Shadows/Blacks of an image. It does this by changing the brightness/color levels while leaving midtones and highlight areas unaffected.
Gamma – Midtones (middle gray levels)
Gain – Highlights/Whites
To start coloring I’m going to select the highlights and start to bring up some of these dials by click on the arrows that appear when you rollover them.
Just by changing the highlights tab slightly, you can already a noticeable difference in the video. Next up is the mid tones. Because I shoot flat, there are few highlights, and not very dark shadows. As a result, the midtones have the largest affect on the look of the video.
Bring all of the dials up a little bit, and you can see the the feel of the shot has totally changed now. It’s much brighter and has more contrast in it. Up next in the shadows. Because this shot doesn’t have very many shadows in it, this will only alter the shot by a small margin. Because of the “faded” effect I will add after fixing the exposure, I am going to make the shadows a tad bit darker to compensate.
The changes in this step are minuscule but are very important in the overall tab in the next shot.
The “Overall” tab is where I like to touch up with the temperature, tinting, etc. This is also where I will add the faded/soft look that I spoke on a little bit earlier.
By bring up the Offset and Gamma a little bit, the shadows and midtones will come up and will give the shot a very soft feel. This video is also a little bit cool for my taste. So I will also move the temperature slider as well as the tint or “Magenta” slider to the right. This will give the shot more oranges and reds instead of the blues and green that are currently in it.
The overall tab has the largest affect on the clip as a whole. This is because it does not differentiate between different areas. So by changing the dials a small amount, can change the clip a lot. The temperature and magenta slider are very touchy as well, and do not need to be changed a lot in order to get the desired effect.
Depending on how you shot your clip, as well as the location you chose, these sliders may need to be brought up more, or even down in some cases.
This is the finished product:
Now that you are happy with you end product, all that’s left is exporting the video. In order to do this you need to choose the render tab at the top right of the program, next to the color tab. This will open a window that should look like this:
In this window you can choose where you want to save you video, what the filename is and what format you would like to export in. If you click on “other” next to format, you can see that it opens up another dialog box that allows you to choose the format as well as other small options that will effect the final render.
After you choose these settings, and are happy with what you have, Click render at the bottom and wait for it to export your final product.
After this you have successfully colored a video using Adobe Speedgrade CC!
Thanks for reading this tutorial and I hope it helped anyone out there trying to get in to video coloring a little bit more.