How To Use DaVinci Resolve's Color Match Tool with RAW Footage

Color Matching Color Charts With RAW and Log in DaVinci Resolve

February 4, 2017

DaVinci Resolve's 'Color Match' is terrific for Color Charts recorded on-set. Learn the tricks to this feature if your Footage is RAW or Log.


Part 1: Understanding How To Use the Target and Source Pull Pulldowns with RAW

About a month ago this Tweet hit the Mixing Light Twitter account about Color Charts with RAW:

In other words, @gopalbalaji was asking us… is Color Match broken in ACES workflows?

(the short answer: No.)

In Part 1 we’re going to explore the proper Target and Source Pull-Downs with Color Charts in RAW

The explanation is easier if we separate the discussion of LOG or RAW recordings from the discussion of the ACES workflow using DaVinci Resolve’s Color Match feature. In full disclosure, I can answer @gopalbalaji’s tweet with a single screen shot, showing the proper settings for ACES—but instead let’s turn this excellent question into a ‘teachable moment‘.

The challenge with RAW footage is its chameleon-like nature

Using Resolve’s RAW Settings panel you can develop your footage into many different color spaces and gamma curves. Heck, you can develop RAW into a Log space, color grade into a Rec.709 profile and THEN do the Color Match! If you get your settings wrong, the Color Match utterly fails. If you get the settings right, Color Match works like a charm. And if you don’t understand the theory then this is a hit-or-miss game.

This Insight is hands-on, helping you become intentional about selecting your Color Match settings

The best way for me to help you is for you to follow along. I’m using footage from’s sample footage:

This two-part series on Color Matching Color Charts with RAW and LOG is being tagged to the end of that original series, since its a natural completion to those thoughts.

In Part 2 you will apply what you learn here to the ACES workflow

Part 2 is likely to be the shortest Insight I’ve ever recorded! Why? Because once you understand the concepts in this movie, mastering Color Match in ACES is a no-brainer!



10 thoughts on “Color Matching Color Charts With RAW and Log in DaVinci Resolve”

  1. So the gamma conversion is a similar to a lut its not taking into account the grayscale patches. It would be nice if you could specify the desired white and black code values and have them apply a custom curve for you.

    1. RE: Gamma – I’m not sure I understand the comment about the Gamma Conversion being similar to a LUT? To me, the key for best success is to not let Color Match apply any gamma conversion. Our job is to simply define the gamma as it is (which is why I like to keep a debayered RedLogFilm in the Log space when doing Color Match).

      I do think Color Match may have been designed to do both the Color and Gamma Match… but it does the latter poorly so I do everything I can do limit the work it has to do… and then it works wonderfully.

      RE: White / Black targets: It would be good if Resolve showed us the target White and Black code values so we could properly place them before applying the Color Match… since those values are different for the different test charts (and it can be tough to find those values at the moment you need them).

    2. RE: White / Black Targets – Actually, I’m reconsidering if knowing the Black / White Target values are worth anything… especially in Log / RAW workflows where you design the Color Match to happen before the contrast expansion. In that case, the proper White / Black Targets will depend on the camera and the specific Log gamma profile of that camera.

      In Part 2 I’ll show you how to ‘intuit’ if you’ve got the proper code values set… it’s simple as pi (and you’ve already seen me figure it out using the middle gray values here in Part 1).

  2. Hello Patrick,
    this inside is pure gold.
    I just noticed that you didn’t care about the color temperature of the Raw file. It was set at 5600K instead of 6500k already set in the match menu. Was that irrelevant?

    1. That’s a really good point. It depends. When the grayscale seems spot-on but the color chips are way off, then color temp will usually fix it.

      In fact, a refinement of this workflow is to look for the most out-of-bounds color chip (in our example, blue) and then tweak the Color Temp to see if it brings it (and the others) closer to baseline. I hadn’t really thought of that as the final step in this process. Nice insight!

  3. Hello Patrick,
    I am just wondering you advice on using this technique in prep before a Job – theory is to shot a DSC one shot with all say 3 cameras bring it in to resolve – then check if the vector scope matches up so you know all the cameras match up – if needed adjust to match the main camera – when done could you then save this out as a grade and use it though out the shot on the first node before the LUT is applied to adjust for any colour differences? If not do you know any other way to to so this? or would you need to shot a colour chart in different lighting etc INT EXT etc or does it not matter.

    1. In professional multi-cam truck shoots, they match all the cameras to charts before recording – and then live-switch (usually with an engineer riding the levels as cameras come in and out of matching each other).

      What you’re talking about is something similar but in post production. You’d align each camera to the chart it shot, as a starting point, and use that as a starting node. But like an engineer on a live shoot, you’ll still find you’ll need to ride levels as the lighting changes.

      Also remember, when aligning to the vectorscope, the targets shown in vectorscopes are for SMPTE bars. Most color charts don’t align to those targets (they’re too saturated for most printing techniques). So you want to tweak the waveforms between cameras to match each other.

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