The Premiere Pro Color Correction Protocol—Part 1

March 16, 2016

Learn how to use Premiere Pro Color Correction filters in a logical and organized method for any sized project. We start with contrast.


Setting Contrast

In the last few months, events at home have my family paying particularly close attention to our nutrition and the quality of the foods we eat. As part of that ‘re-thinking’, we decided this week to add one glass of juice to our diet, every day. We’re not talking about a grocery store, juice-in-a-carton type of juice. We’re talking… go down to our local organic farmer (we have one living a mile away) and juicing up vegetables like Kale, Lemon, Ginger Root, Daikon Radish, Cucumber, Chard, Watercress… you get the idea.

But how do I know what combinations of Vegetables to blend with one another?

Should I just randomly slam these foods together in the juicer, or is there a method to the madness? For a few days, we Googled around, picked up a juicing book and came up with a plan of attack. But I noticed a funny thing as I did my research… in the nutritional space, it’s popular to use the marketing term Protocol as in ‘The 5 Day Juicing Protocol’ or ‘The Bone-Broth Protocol’.

It got me to thinking that my search of how to mix and match veggies for juicing isn’t much different from an editor’s search in how to mix and match color correction filters in Premiere Pro CC.

Next, I asked, if The 5-Day Juicing Protocol works as a title could The Premiere Pro CC Color Correction Protocol also work? So a quick Google search on the word protocol came up with this:

The Google Definition of the word 'Protocol'
The Google definition of the word ‘Protocol’

I personally like definition #3 for our purposes:

The Premiere Pro Color Correction Protocol is a formal record of scientific experimental observations

The beautiful thing about color correction is that the scientific experimental observations never end. Every project, every director, every DP and every editor have their own unique ways of capturing and ordering images, resulting in a unique ‘fingerprint’ for every project that walks in our door. But color correction has a method to its madness.

This Protocol is based on over two decades of experimental observations of how to ‘attack’ images when color correcting.

It offers solid, repeatable guidelines that are based in science (including how the human brain perceives images) but they also allow for a wide number of observational permutations. In other words, you’ll learn the basic rules of how to attack an image using specific color filters in Premiere Pro CC. You’ll learn a recommended ordering of filters and a workflow that helps you decide, ‘which move should I make first?’

You’ll also start to learn when to move from the ‘science’ of color correction to the ‘observations’ of color correction. I’m a big believer that we never become a slave to our instruments. They inform us. They guide us. But in the end, you’ll need to LOOK and observe and decide if the science is giving us the impact we want?

In this Insight, I’ll lay down guidelines for you to follow, with a few common variations

These variations are important, as I’m learning with juicing… some combinations of vegetables will have a different effect on the human body (based on the nutrients delivered) than another combination of vegetables. So it is with color correction… some combinations of filters are more effective depending on ‘what ails the image?’

In Part 2 we’ll take the Protocol further, looking at how ‘filter stacking’ is an essential key for quick, efficient color correcting in Premiere Pro CC.



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Homepage Forums The Premiere Pro Color Correction Protocol—Part 1

  • In Resolve it would be cool do an insight on using the group/timeline node graphs for consistency and maybe explore some best practices in using multiple node graphs. Like for example maybe putting grain on timeline level so you can disable all shots in one place etc.

  • Just finished watching your latest video about color correcting protocols in PP. There’s no debating the implied stacking order. I am curious, however, how workflows may, or not, shift when using ACES. I’ve , lately, started using the ACES foundation in Resolve, as it seems to be pretty consistent in setting a baseline grade, and it does it quickly. Have you found ACES to fit into the category of LUT corrections, or does it change your protocols? In other words, is ACES just as “canned” as using a LUT, or does it have some adaptibility features that change according to some scene parameters?

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Greg – I’m wondering if you’re think about something like this:

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Well – if you’re on a production that understands ACES, you’re probably working at budget levels where principal photography is excellent and you’re getting very consistent images, day-to-day. I’ve found that as budgets go up, the time I spend on my ‘base grade’ and ‘shot matching’ drops dramatically. My guess, that’s what’s accounting for the consistency in your workflow.

    But ACES doesn’t inherently eliminate the need for initial evaluation of white/black points, saturation, color balance. It also doesn’t inherently solve shot matching issues. So the ‘stacked workflow’ – or as I call it, the ‘3-pass workflow’ – stays intact, even in ACES.

    I’m not sure… did I answer your question?

  • Hey Patrick,
    Yes, you answered. Thanx for taking the time.

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