Color correction or grading is the technique of changing colors within an image. This can be a hard change (from blue to red) or a subtle change (white balance).

The difference between the correction and grading words is a gray field (a designed word game). If the colors are already perfect, there is no need to change them. If you change colors, you can name them as your artistic expression (grading) or correction. The audience will see only the latest version regardless of the superior effort shown when changing the red to blue.

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Now let’s open it up a bit. In order to be simple, I will use the color correction term.

Pixel by pixel color correction.

Look at the image above. Color correction changes the color of one pixel to another color. That’s almost all.

Everything else is about how do we do it.

Selective color correction

We know that an image is a combination of multiple pixels. Selective color correction is the art of choosing only the pixels we need and changing their values.

There are four main groups of ”problems in selective color correction. Take a look at this:

Three types of color correction

Difficulties in color correction are divided into four groups.

The problem of selecting a particular color

The problem of selecting a single custom pixel

Distinction between two pixels close to each other

Human disability problem

The problem of selecting a particular color

The first guide shows nine pixels. If we only want to isolate the orange pixel and change its value, we can do so if we know the correct color values ​​of that pixel.

Since each pixel is Red, Green, and Blue (Blue) component, we need to know exactly what the values ​​are for each component. This is not a problem of human understanding but a math problem. The software is only a set of algorithms.

Problem with selecting a single custom pixel

The second guide shows nine red pixels that are all the same. If you cannot isolate it with color information, how will you select a single custom pixel from within the group?

The solution is a stack of techniques, including locating the correct pixel, masking, tracing, and many other things.

Distinction between two pixels close to each other

The third guide shows eight red pixels and one “not too red.” Now, if you know the correct color values ​​of that pixel, you can isolate it using the first method.

The specific challenge here is that the algorithm (and the human) are not so sure how the pixels differ from each other. This is often seen in the tone, where the straight gradients sometimes confuse the severity of an algorithm. Binding is a popular example for this.

The basis of this problem lies in the “mathematical type used. My 32-bit Float article should clarify this problem.

Do not make a mistake of thinking that working with pixels is easy. Crushing nine pixels for a computer is not a time consuming process. The 1080p frame is about two million pixels. 4K is about 8 million pixels. 24 frames per second 4K video is approximately 200 million pixels per second.

You cannot do this on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Achieving the top of these challenges under the most demanding conditions covers all levels of mathematical intelligence.

The fourth problem is human inadequacy. Our eyes are not perfect. I entered Driving Miss Digital in sufficient detail.

Just for the fun of it, you can look at the three guides and you can definitely see some new colors immediately! You’ll see.

Color correction applications

Color correction applications are basically an algorithm set. If you type a single algorithm, it can be a property (most NLEs are available) or an add-on (something you can buy or download as an add-on).

An entire set of algorithms dedicated to the color correction task constitute an application or software. In close-up, they all do the same. Differences are not in the quality of mathematics but in the details.

My favorite color correction and grading program is Adobe After Effects, which seems surprising. It has enough tools to handle the most demanding tasks.

Some popular custom color correction apps include:

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve

Adobe Speedgrade

Apple Color

Quantel Pablo

SGO Mistika

Filmlight Baselight

There are two popular add-ons running on many platforms or in NLE:

Synthetic Aperture’s Color Finesse

Red Giant Magic Bullet Colorista

RAW files do not already have well-thought-out color information, and they need additional algorithms to make sense of them all. Some popular DeBayering algorithms include:

RAW Therapee

Adobe Lightroom

Red Cine-X (For Red RAW only)

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve

Control surface

A computer keyboard and mouse is a versatile pair. Unfortunately, these are not always suitable for all scenarios, as the games are well known.

In a similar way, the color correction or grading artists have the option to use special hardware control devices (so-called surfaces) to make their lives easier. These surfaces are designed for superior ergonomic advantages and operate analogously to analogue sound mixers.

Blackmagic Design Resolve Control

Whether they are necessary depends on the speed or training that one is accustomed to. It is absolutely not mandatory. The two companies that make control surfaces are:

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Control

Tangent Devices

So far, you should have a general idea of ​​what color correction or color grading is and what it covers.

As with all things, the best way to overcome any in color problem is to keep things simple. An easier method makes the settings immediately.