LAB Color Foundations Part 2: DaVinci Resolve

LAB Color Foundations Part 2: DaVinci Resolve

November 21, 2014

In this video, transfer those Photoshop skills color correcting LAB color in DaVinci Resolve - plus how the tools don't translate directly.


One of the superpowers of LAB, is how the brightness channel is distinctly separate from the color channels. In Part 1, we explored how to add color to an image by increasing the contrast in the A and B channels while working in Photoshop.

Working Curves in DaVinci Resolve

One reason I started this series in Photoshop, is because curves in DaVinci Resolve work distinctly differently. Frankly, Resolve’s curves interface fights against us so I wanted you to see how Curves should work. In this Insight, I’ll show you how we have to work around Resolve’s more limited curves interface.

Adding Contrast to the L Channel… and RGB

By the end of this Insight, we’ll be doing a full initial contrast expansion to this shot… in both RGB and LAB colorspaces.We’ll also add additional Saturation in the RGB color space and you’ll see distinct differences between the two.

And this brings up an important point…

Grading in LAB doesn’t mean we abandon RGB.

In fact, the more I grade the LAB the more I appreciate fine-tuning the image in RGB. I’ve started adding a node before and after my LAB node(s). But… that’s getting ahead of ourselves—it’s just something to keep in the back of your mind as you watch this series progress.

Members: Download the DaVinci Resolve 11 PowerGrades from this Insight.

Click this link to download the LAB PowerGrades you see in this Insight – for import into DaVinci Resolve 11 or later. I recommend creating a new PowerGrade folder dedicated to LAB, and importing the .drx files in that folder. As this series progresses I’ll share further refinements for you to experiment with.

Enjoy this Insight!

– pat

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18 thoughts on “LAB Color Foundations Part 2: DaVinci Resolve”

  1. This seems useful for adding punch to already colorful images w/o saturation going crazy, does it not? Gonna mess around w this on a music video I have coming up. Thanks Pat!! Looking forward to part 3

    1. Jason – Honestly, it’ll months before I’ll start making generalizations about when and when not to use LAB. But for the time being, it’s now part of my routine during the ‘experiment time’ at the start of a grading session.

      1. guess we’ll have to see. Looking forward to part 3 and I’ll certainly jumping into LAB with my primaries when playing around before choosing a method. Thanks for sharing yet another unique tool!

    1. Well – much the same results as if you just boosted Saturation while working in RGB. I’ve done this test, RGB saturation vs. RGB Channel Mixer saturation. It’s the same exact move if all three channels are increased equally. You could try removing red out of the green or blue channel but that’ll weaken those color channels. If you add red to the green or blue channels you end up making the image more monochromatic (as those values in the two channels become more similar).

      Working in LAB, to my mind – beside the big moves for heavy handed color washes as Dan demo’ed in an earlier Insight – is about getting results that are different than you’d get in RGB… and if you tried to make it happen in RGB, would take a ton more work. BUT – the results in LAB are not always more desirable to the point where you’d decide to just work in LAB full-time across every project that you touch.

      Am I making sense?

      1. Sorry I mean’t could you just apply the most saturated version of you LAB contrast power grades above, then tune the saturation to your liking via the mask gain value instead having 4 LAB contract power grades? Better yet apply the strongest lab contrast preset then adjust the ganged intensity sliders to fine tune the saturation.

  2. Great insight Patrick! 😀 I’m experimenting with LAB now on a commercial job that has a lot of nice winter landscapes in it. And all the different colors just pops the right way for me using this process. I arrived to the look I wanted a lot faster than I did the “normal” way. Looking forward to the next video and experimenting some more!

    1. Raymond – Terrific. I’m psyched to hear you’ve got it working in a real-life situation. And as you’ll see in my next video… we know pretty quick if LAB gets us where want in same amount of time as our normal RGB grading tools. You just have to be willing to muck with curves (although, I have some ideas on minimizing the curves tweaking, which will come in a later Insight).

  3. Very interesting thank you! I come from a photoshop background but we don’t use LAB that often anymore. At least not the people that trained me. But this seems like another good way of getting the most out of your footage! I wonder how the hue vs hue and hue vs sat curves will work in LAB.

    1. Are you saying that you switch a node to LAB and that under the Node it doesn’t update to ‘LAB’? What version of Resolve are you using? It just happens automatically for me. Nothing to do other than actually make sure a checkbox shows up next to LAB when right-clicking on a node.

  4. Quite enjoyed this insight. I feel like I’ve got a better hold on setting up initial looks. Will definitely use LAB as part of setting up the initial look during the experimentation time before the clients come in!

    RGB –

    LAB –

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