How do ‘Motivated Vignettes’ improve your color grading?

September 1, 2022

Colorist Cullen Kelly explores vignettes: What they do, when they’re appropriate, & how to deploy them in a motivated and photographic manner?


Series

Motivated Vignettes – What are they and how do you create them?

Vignettes are one of the first adjustments I was exposed to when I began color grading, and like many colorists, I became a bit addicted — they always seemed to add some extra depth and focus to the shot. As my craft matured, I often wondered: should I use vignettes all the time? And: When shouldn’t I use them?

As is usually the case in color grading, the answer requires more nuance than “always” or “never,” and we also need to think not only about when we use vignettes but how. This is our focus in today’s Insight. We are exploring what vignettes do for us, situations where they’re more or less appropriate, and how to deploy them in a motivated and photographic manner.

Key Takeaways

After watching this Insight, you should be able to understand:

  • How to think about vignettes as a complement to nailing our exposure — rather than a substitute for it
  • Where to apply  vignettes judiciously when we want to add more “weight” while keeping a healthy level on our subject
  • How to use vignettes more photographically, rather than always drawing the same shape regardless of lighting conditions

Related Insights

Questions or Comments?

Vignettes are a topic that colorists love to dig into. Use the discussion below to share with us how your use of vignettes have changed over time. If you’re new to the topic, let me know if I helped you alter your way of thinking (and how so)?

– Cullen

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Comments

Homepage Forums How do ‘Motivated Vignettes’ improve your color grading?

Viewing 5 reply threads

    • joseph s
      Participant

      They are indeed addictive, but I sometimes inadvertently muddy the light source by putting a vignette over it. When I think intentionally, I use the vignette to augment the directionality of the light, like Cullen did in his example by shifting it to the right.  So the vignette becomes a way to manage the fill lighting by adding, subtracting, bending or cheating it a bit to optimize and enhance the intent of the image.

      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by joseph s.
      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by joseph s.

      • Cullen Kelly
        Participant

        Very well put! Thanks for your insights.


    • JALIL BOURNE
      Participant

      I have personal  technique to create more depth on image with a vignette,

      I create black color generator node  below layer mixer then I make my shape mask by vignetting what surround my subject than I put the blend mode to Softlight then I reduce the key output gain of color-generator node to 10%-15% depends on your taste

      I got pleasing result always

       

      • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by JALIL BOURNE.

      • Marty
        Participant

        I completely forgot about this. I used to do this quite a lot.

        You can get some other interesting results if you don’t use a black solid and just lay the image over itself in softlight. Then just go wild with the curves until you get something that looks good. I’ve managed to get some good results that way a few times.


        • JALIL BOURNE
          Participant

          instead you do curve in my technique I manage with the luminince qualifier by soften the shadows depends on the scene

          its already set on my fixed  node tree, I only activate the node and change the  mask,  if its strong in the shadows I control the qualifier or the mode opacity

          for me its more practical and fast if I have hundreds of shots

           

          • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 5 days ago by JALIL BOURNE.

          • Cullen Kelly
            Participant

            Cool ideas and techniques Jalil! Thanks for sharing.


    • Jamie Dickinson
      Participant

      My first reason to use a vignette was if I wanted to mimic a more ‘filmic’ look of the fall off of a camera lens. Accurately reproducing that kind of optical fall off with your controls (not just lowering the gain, I prefer to use gamma more) is something I’m never quite sure about?


      • Marty
        Participant

        Yeah I’ll use gamma too. Or more recently HDR exposure. I usually don’t like to drop the highlights too much. I think that can often make the vignette too visible.


    • Jim Robinson
      Participant

      It seems that this particular insight is aimed toward light shaping using vignettes. Lens vignettes can be quite organic if not pushed too hard. But the idea of shifting the viewer eyes to important things in a frame, the subliminal and subtlety are in my opinion the key. Especially if someone tracks it on a moving camera, there isn’t many occasions where real people have a follow spot operator in their kitchen.
      So I think that using the vignettes to help sell the story is something that maybe should be done more if the camera work is not adequate. There are time considerations as well if this was done on all frames.
      As far as the example here, the first consideration in my opinion should be looking at where the light is entering the frame. I think with such a strong light on the cupboards and the counter in front of what looks like a window – that maybe that should be dealt with first to lessen the light ratio , then add the vignette to make the view look at the person.


    • Cullen Kelly
      Participant

      Thanks for your insights, Jim! Great ideas as usual!


    • Jamie N
      Participant

      Another great topic. Thanks, Cullen.

      My preference is to use power windows to make the lighting mimic how light naturally falls off. Obviously, this has to be within the creative context of the story.

      Using windows and subtle luminance tweaks can really make an image sing. I tend to dial in the contrast and ratios well before looking at colour separation. I guess what I’m really trying to do is to create an image that feels observed and not captured.


      • Cullen Kelly
        Participant

        Sure thing Jamie — really well put insights here, completely agree!

Viewing 5 reply threads
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