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Color Correction and Color Grading for Video: What Marketers Need to Know

Posted by Justin Braase

Have you ever wondered to yourself what your video production company means by color correction or color grading? Don't worry, it doesn't mean they screwed anything up on the day of your shoot. It all comes down to how cameras percieve the colors they're recording, and the process of manipulating color in the final stages of editing your videos. 

What is Color Correction and Why is it Necessary?

You may not be aware of it, but different light sources cast different colors of light. For instance, daylight casts a blue hue, while tungsten sources (such as the lights in your home), cast a warmer, orange tone. And fluorescent lights cast a green tone. Your eyes are constantly compensating for these shifts in color, but a camera must be tuned to each source in order to acheive a perfect representation of that subject's color.

What happens when we have multiple color sources? Say, florescent lighting found in office buildings mixed with a window casting a blue tint with light from outside? The subject of the video is now being tinted by two different colors but the camera can only compensate for one. With editing software, we can isolate specific colors and correct them to an appropriate color.

Behold, the process of color correcting:


Our camera is calibrated to the blue light coming through the window, however, overhead office lights cast a green tint to our image. This gives the subject's skin an unhealthy look.


With color correction, the white background appears white, Jil's hair no longer has a yellow tint, her skin looks healthy, and her jacket is black.

So What's the Difference Between Color Correcting and Color Grading?

Color correcting has established proper colors, making our image look clean and neutral. Now your video is ready for color grading, a step that goes beyond color correcting in order to convey a visual style or create a mood for your video. A soft shade of orange can establish a warm, heartfelt or caring mood. Or maybe, featuring subtle shades of blue in your video about technology can further establish a scientific atmosphere. A good color grade can subtley speak to your audience about what your subject and your story are all about.


Our final color grade for our interview with Jil Sweeney, President of Dennis Partners. Notice that the image has warmed, but Jil's skin looks healthy and vibrant - not orange.

In the image above we can see the final result color grading has on our image. We've added some contrast to the video to get a stronger sense of our subject's facial features. You'll also notice there is a subtle tint of orange to the image, a color that, as we said earlier, can invoke a warm and caring mood. This decision fits well with this interview, in which  Jil discusses how she feels about the people she helps everyday in her career. 

You'll also note as you watch Jil speak that the style of Jil's video is natural, authentic, and spontaneous. We call this documentary style - as opposed to a more formal intentional style. Documentary style videos are based on interviews, while intentional style videos are based on scripted lines. Which style you choose for your corporate video depends on a variety of factors.

Watch Jil's video spotlight:




What is Color Correcting?

No, it's not someone frantically trying to fix a mistake that was made on the day of your shoot. It's a step during the editing phase of your video in which the colors cast by mutliple light sources are calibrated to a neutral state to establish proper colors in your video.

What is Color Grading?

This is the step in which we enhance the look and feel of a video by manipulating its tones and colors. Colors can evoke a wide range of emotions for your audience, and this subtle layer of editing can add additional context for your viewer, and more value to your content.




Topics: Corporate Video, Video Production, What Marketers Need to Know