Grade Rescue

Grade Rescue – Saving A DSLR Moving Portrait

October 14, 2017

Dan filmed some bad footage on his 7D with the wrong color temperature, harsh lighting & heavy compression. He offers up his best effort on a grade rescue.


Time To Grade Some Difficult Shots!

I have to hold my hands up and say that I am a diva when it comes to the world of colour grading. I hardly ever have to perform a grade rescue.

I 95% of the time only grade Red, Arri or Film. Even when other formats like GoPro or As7 shows up it’s been shot with lots of light and great lenses.

I graded c300 for the first time in 3 years today and I struggled!

The compression made it hard to key, the log curve was far more “video” than the cameras I’m used to working with and the 8 bit made the skin tones look chunky and blocky.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to kick off a new series where I tackle badly shot material and try and make it look as good as possible.

I’d also love to try and “rescue” some of your footage.

If you have any clips that you can share with me I’ll tackle them in upcoming insights and offer my take on the footage.

This should hopefully help build your confidence as a colourist and help build a mental toolbox of fixes for common issues.

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3 thoughts on “Grade Rescue – Saving A DSLR Moving Portrait”

  1. Hi Dan,
    Great to see you join the club. 😉
    I deal with these shots on a daily basis. I’m not going to send you any shots. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get permission for the best ones.
    But, I can give you some great tips on fixing macro blocking in R14. Haha

    It does bring about an interesting dilemma. The shots I’m most proud of as a colorist are at best ‘nice’. They’ve taken a considerable amount of effort just to look like the cameraman did his job, and the shots match the rest of the documentary. Sometimes, skin tones I’m really excited about, look like nothing special.

    Currently, I don’t have a public demo-reel. I would like to attract more high-end clients. With real cinematography. But showcasing the projects where I’ve added the most value, will attract more 8-bit nightmares scaring away the more interesting clients.
    While adding only the nice RED shots to my reel, feels a little like cheating. I haven’t added that much to them because the cinematography is good, to begin with, and I’m not really that proud of the work. But the end results look better and therefore clients think you’re a better colorist.

    Oh well, there are bigger problems to have.
    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on it.

    Looking forward to the next one.

    1. Its definitely a tough spot to be in as far as self-promotion but a very useful skill! There’s a ton of less-than-perfect shooters out there, and if you’re able to salvage a lot of what they do then you’ll never be out of work. I do a lot of compositing cleanup work for ads and I can’t exactly post a whole reel of products not working at all then wipe to it working perfectly. The last thing I want is a buzzfeed article about it going viral and angry clients knocking at my door.

      I think it doesn’t hurt to have some nice red shots in your reel, just to show a range. If a DP is watching it then he’ll likely understand whats going on, but its important to show you’re at least familiar with higher end codecs.

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