Color Correction and Color Grading Explained

What is Color Correction?

Color correction is the act of manipulating an image so that colors are balanced. It makes shots look consistent, so they match when cutting from one to another. Reaching a visual consistency often means changing exposure or fixing white balance issues.

The first step in the color process, color correction must be done before color grading. Color correction is sometimes further categorized as primary color correction and secondary color correction.

Primary Color Correction
Primary color correction is performing changes that affect the entire image. This is the first step in the color correcting process where the biggest issues are dealt with. For instance, the white balance may be incorrect, and the enter image has a yellow cast. You would perform primary color correction to achieve a balanced look where whites look white.

Secondary Color Correction
Secondary color correction is making changes to specific elements of the image. This can be done by drawing a masks over a certain area or by using a color picker to focus on a particular hue. You can also isolate parts of the image by selecting saturation or luma parameters.

What is Color Grading?

Color grading is adding stylized looks to shots. Colorists start with a color corrected images and then manipulate color values to add flair. Color grading is a powerful tool that can drastically change the mood of your footage.

Going Further

Learn more about the world of color correction and color grading. For beginners, knowing what a LUT is can be useful. If you want to dive more into being a colorist, its important to learn about color space, as well as Log and Rec 709.