Color Correction vs Color Grading

Although they are often used interchangeably, color correction and color grading are not the same thing.  Many people use the term “color correction” when they actually mean ‘color grading.’  Let me very quickly and simply explain the difference.

Color Correction:

This is what you do to your video footage first.  This is the process of making sure your saturation levels are where they should be, brightness is in the right range, black levels look good, and your scene is white balanced properly.  Footage straight from the camera is almost  never perfect, and you should always look at your monitors (waveform, vector, etc) and make sure everything is where it should be.

Color Grading

After you have color corrected your video, the next step MIGHT be to do some color grading to the scene.  Color grading is a stylistic or artistic approach and is more about how you want your scene to feel.  This can usually be done without any monitors since you are going off of what looks good to your eye ball.  For example, whenever I want to give a video a more cinematic feel, I desaturate the video, crush my blacks and raise my whites to add more contrast, and add a blue (or sometimes green) hue to the scene.  Just make sure however you grade your video, that it makes sense to what you are trying to portray.

That’s the simple basic difference between the two.  Sometime in the near future I will go into more depth about ways to color correct and color grade footage.

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