Color Grading 101: Shot Matching & Working With Multiple Nodes

February 12, 2024

In Part 2 of his series, Colorist Patrick Inhofer starts working 'at speed' on the Base Grade and then moves to Shot Matching (with scopes).


Part 2 – Learning How To Use Scopes To Upgrade Your Shot Matching Skills

In Part 1, you learned how to rely on the objectivity of Waveforms and Vectorscopes when analyzing an image. You also learned how those objective tools can help you decide the first ‘color grading move’ you should attempt.

Using Scopes: Helping defeat the ‘tyranny of the first move’

As we start Part 2 to show you how to use scopes for shot matching, take a quick review of the three traces pulled from Part 1. You don’t need to know the image represented by these traces to glean key insights as to the first move you should make:

From Part 1, this waveform shows a likely issue with our highlights.
From Part 1, this waveform suggests a likely issue with unbalanced midtones.
From Part 1, this waveform suggests a likely issue with unbalanced shadows

Combine these images with our general rule of ‘Brightness Before Color’, and your options for the first one or two moves you execute are greatly reduced. This is how you learn to work more quickly, more efficiently, and with more effective results.

In Part 2, we solve a more extreme problem and then start shot-matching

From this Insight, the waveform suggests we need to reconstruct the red color channel.

With a general approach under your belt, in Part 2, we solve a more extreme problem by introducing a new tool set. Plus, we look at keyframing our base corrections to fix an extreme auto-color balance issue.

Then, it’s on to shot matching. As I mention in the video, the shot-matching stage balances moving our focus between our scopes and the image itself. We use our scopes to help identify areas of mismatch, which then help us identify which tools we want to use to solve those problems. In a few shots, you’ll see how I might try two or three different tools to target the same problem – since Resolve’s toolset gives us many approaches to each problem:

  • The scopes help us identify areas of mismatch between shots
  • The scopes help us narrow down our toolset
  • Our eyes let us know which toolset is most effective on the shot in front of us

Coming up in Part 3

Next up, we’ll start shot-matching people. As is often the case, the scene mostly works, and the mismatches are subtle. But there are mismatches. And the more we can smooth out those mismatches, the more immersed the audience stays in the story, and their subconscious doesn’t have to do the shot matching in their heads – resulting in a more ‘professional’ feel to the overall production.

– Pat

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