Color Correcting A Music Video: Ask Me Anything

Color Correcting A Music Video: Ask Me Anything

June 18, 2013

Do you have burning questions about color correcting music videos? Professional colorist Dan Moran, CSI is here to give you his answers.


One thing I have found hard in the world of grading is getting behind the scenes access into the world of other colorists. So I thought I’d borrow an idea from one of my favorite sites reddit which has a great section called ask me anything. Everyone from Obama to Dolph Lundgren to Chris Hatfield live from the International Space Station answers any question you want. So take a look at the video below and ask me any question you want about the job!

– Dan

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7 thoughts on “Color Correcting A Music Video: Ask Me Anything”

  1. You may not be able to the answer my question fully but just a little insight as to why you did what you did. From raw to finish why did you make the choses you made. I saw that some of the shots had a slight blue hue to them, was that on purpose. I am starting to bet a grasp on technical part of how DaVinci works, now I am looking for the why I do things. For example in my DP class in college we started off with turning the camera on and setting up, but then learned why we frame things a certain way.

  2. Hi Dan, I was wondering, if you dont mind sharing, what process or rather technique do you use for music videos, especially with a short time frame as you mentioned? Do you stick to grading and matching shots using the LOG controls for efficiency, or do you get more intricate on certain elements that stand out as well, as obviously there are generally a high amount of shots in such a short space of time and a lot are quite quick. Thankyou!

  3. I’ll step in here for a moment as we await Dan’s answers (he’s been a bit bogged down). The way he treated those blacks was absolutely intentional. In my opinion, what Dan did on those sequences is the toughest thing to pull off as a colorist. If those blacks don’t match, the grade looks amateurish. It’s the consistency of his choices that really impressed me on this video.

  4. Sorry guys I’ve been having a grading adventure this week so apologies in the late reply. I was planning on doing a video to answer all your questions but I might extend it by a week to give people a little more time to get theirs in!

    On music videos my approach is normally to set looks across all the key scenes so normally a wide and medium/close up for each set up. Some music videos only have 2 setups where others could have 5 or 6!

    Once we have set some key looks my approach then is to go “broad strokes” what I mean by that is I past the rough grades across the whole time line and watch it with the director to see what we feel . The reason I do that is sometimes you can spend hours on one scene and then realize it doesn’t work in the context of the video. By going rough and quick we can see that we’re heading in the right direction. My next step is then to balance everything up so the video flows nicely and once we have it all matching up nicely its time for windows, keys, beauty work and generally making everything as shiny and pretty as possible!

    Chris your question might be better answered in a video as I can show you some examples of why we went that way. In a nutshell we went for a very cinematic and natural grade first time around but we were feeling that you couldn’t tell the different parts of the evening very well so we used color to help separate each scene. Normal and Cinematic is for the daytime as they’re walking home, purple shadows is for the flashback to the nighttime adventures, blue wash is for internal adventures which is still nighttime and then the pub had a cinematic but warm feel to it also. Lots of little choices that add up to make the video so I can safely say it was on purpose 🙂

    Please do keep the questions coming this was lots of fun!

  5. Hi Dan, I am curious as to how you approach a project with a deadline like this. Was this edit preconformed like you discribed in an other insight? And how does it affect your moral when you know you only have a couple of hours, and you can not postpone tough discicions to the next day when you have fresh eyes?

    Nice video btw. I really like the contrast in the sunset shots.

    1. Hey Remco!

      It was indeed! The job was Alexa and I got the editor to conform it at full quality and then export out a ProRes 4444 for me, with an EDL I could then chop it up immediately and get going!

      The main thing I have learned from jobs like this is not only am I responsible for the grade but also making sure it gets finished on time. Over the last year I realised you can be the most creative person in the world but if you are not 100% reliable to finish the job for any given deadline clients will not use you . With that in mind I’ve found myself becoming more and more commanding in the session like these with short deadlines and keep things moving forward at all costs. If they get stuck on deciding a look for a scene? lets leave it and come back after I finish the next one etc..

      The sad news is that there is normally zero chance of holding off for a second watch the next day. I find most people use all of their time in the edit and then the grade normally only has a day or even a half day to be finished.

      Its all good fun though 🙂

      D

  6. Hey Dan. Newish member diving back into the distant annals of mixing light, hope I’m not too late to this party!

    You have quite a few different scenes in this at different times of day/different lighting, but they all feel like they’re in the same world. Tying shots (especially montages) together is something I’ve been practicing but find difficult. Could you share some tips about how you tied everything together in this video/generally?

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