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.

[S3FILE file=’bonuses/’ bucket=”ml-downloads” anchor=’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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Homepage Forums LAB Color Foundations Part 2: DaVinci Resolve

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  • 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

  • Patrick Inhofer

    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.

  • 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!

  • I’m wonder how increasing saturation via the channel mixer compares to using lab?

  • Patrick Inhofer

    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?

  • could you just alway apply your 3 grid powergrade then use gain to tweak the saturation?

  • Patrick Inhofer

    I’m not sure I understand your question… which colorspace are you talking about? And you mean the 3-node structure? And which gain control are you referring to? 🙂 (this gets confusing real fast)

  • 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.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    That might work. Certainly you could try that. I’d be on the lookout for loss of detail back in the RGB colorpsace when desaturating.

  • Robert Pitman

    New member to the site, already glad that I am from these three LAB colour space insights. Really looking forward to the next part. Thank you Patrick.

  • 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!

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Robert – Welcome to Mixing Light! You won’t have to wait long. The next part will be released very, very shortly! I’m loving this experimentation.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    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).

  • 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.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Heh. I have not tried those tools in LAB. I suspect, they’ll act very strangely but it could be fun to try and figure out.

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