Shot Matching Commercial

Shot Matching – Learning Through A Commercial Case Study

March 1, 2016

Dan shares a job as a commercial case study in shot matching - from pristine stock footage to constantly changing clouds.


I’m a huge believer in sharing any work that I can, so I’ve dug out a great commercial that I worked on for a commercial case study on shot matching

The hardest part about learning how to shot match is first and foremost knowing what’s wrong with the image in the first place!

With that in mind I thought instead of diving right into matching black levels I’d add an extra insight that focuses on a job that I have matched

I have the before and afters of a commercial I graded just before the holidays this year.

It has pretty much every kind of issue that you see on a daily basis – from the time of day changes to matching purchased stock footage to pristine Alexa raw footage.

I’d love to know your thoughts on how long you think this grade took me?

The main reason I ask is I always try and emphasize that shot matching is the most time-consuming part of a grade.

If people didn’t get so bored shot matching a lot more projects would look a million times better.

That’s good news for us though…it keeps us in our jobs!!



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19 thoughts on “Shot Matching – Learning Through A Commercial Case Study”

  1. Fantastic insight! Maybe 8 – 12 hours (1.5 days)? Reminds me, you did a fantastic “look” about how to make a scene look sunny when overcast. Would you consider doing a look inspirations similar to this, “Sunny to wintercold”. Its very striking with the purple trucks.

    Black level tricks would be great, as I find that can slip away and I occasionally need to do a quick black level pass to check consistency. Seems like this will be a very helpful series on insights. Thanks, Dan!

    1. I was curious how they handled the VFX as well. Did they send the branding with a motion blurred alpha or did they add branding after the completed grade?

  2. Great insight. Thanks, Dan. I’m guess 17-25 hours, as I imagine there was a lot of time matching the purple trucks amongst all the various matching corrections. I was wondering how many times you had to pull isolation keys on the trucks to pull the color around.

    I second Jason’s request for a sunny to winter/cold insight and the various ways to acquire good black levels other than a isolated desaturation curve.

    1. I shall make sure that is my next one! I had already recored this weeks one based on black level matching but could probably do another whole insight just on making them very black and solid.

  3. I’m going to guess 1-1.5 days on this depending on how much they revised. A good amount of cuts, camera types, locations, lighting differences. Plenty of time spent just figuring out HOW you want to get them to match and depending on the client they could have been the type that kept saying “can we get them even closer?”.

    Love the matter of fact openness in sharing your insights.

    1. Thanks man! I do try to be very honest as I its fun to share my honest experience with everyone. When I was in Ireland learning it was very hard to learn from people and get honest stories from inside the suite so I’m trying to do my best to share as much as possible

  4. So most of you guys got it! We spent 12 hours grading this spot before the VFX and matte painting happened and then we had another 6 hour session for final matching, tweaking, adjusting and general pixel pushing before the spot went out. It was great fun working on it but I do feel like a lot of the big decisions and looks were made in the first 4-6 hours.

    I have to admit one fact. I do bill per hour so I am quite good at making a grade take “just the right amount of time” 🙂

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