Lowndes:: The importance of color grading

When we got the commission from Lowndes to cut and grade some footage they shot during a photo shoot in London, one of the key decisions we took to create the mood of the video (3 videos actually that can be seen here) was to establish a distinct color grade.

The task wasn’t easy as the footage we got was recorded in a poor rec709 and a codec with high compression. Not to mention other technical problems like parkinson-worthy footage and/or the photographer getting on the way of the video (the footage was shot during a photo shoot).

Workflow:: Color grading hours of Raw footage to 3 videos

After much thought and discussion with the client, we ended up storyboarding 3 videos with 3 different motifs/purposes. We selected the footage that was consistent enough to create 3 small pieces that they are using as advertisement in different media. In order to reinforce that consistency, we decided a clear color palette for each of the videos.

Video A:: 8mm amateur fun shots

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Final effect with the grade on Davinci + Scratches, flicker, camera shake and 8mm effect added in Premiere

The screenshot above is how the final version looks like after it has gone through both Davinci and Premiere. The color grading in Davinci (before any “effects” to simulate the 8mm are applied) is as follows:

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Base Grade in Davinci

Besides the obvious B&W conversion, the gamma has been pushed, skin tones treated specifically to increase their brightness and contrast, eye brightness pushed a bit to augment their intensity, hat darkened with a power window.

Video B:: Nostalgic romance

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The purpose of this video was to showcase the jewellery and not so much the model. Most of the scenes are close ups of the jewellery. We wanted to reinforce the nostalgic feeling of the song, the mood of a bygone classic, of a melancholic yet enthralling piano song.

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Notice the colder tone

Video C:: Funky London

Focusing more on the warmth and joy of a funky city, a city with a soul and a wild spirt. With a jazzy and soulful base to accompany our muse through the street of London, we played with a yellow/orange and green palette. Something that screams Alive.

A big part of the video was shot with a low-light situation and for the most part it was severely underexposed. As noted above, it was shot in rec709 so the contrast was way higher to what we are used to grade (be it the BMLog from Black Magic or the Red Log profiles from R3D files). Nevertheless, we pushed it as much as the footage allowed, increased the overall warmth, changed the hue of the greens towards the yellows, push the saturation a bit and a couple of minor things.

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The difference of the before and after of this video is…notable

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