How to Color Grade With Client Revisions In Mind

August 7, 2016

Sometimes we get lost in the heat of the moment and over complicate our grades. Dan shares his tips for responsible grading when time is short


Can Bad Organisation Cost You Long Term?

In this Insight we take a look at some examples of Dan’s real-world grades, you’ll see how in the heat of the moment building complex node graphs can have a knock-on effect. When working in commercials with 5-10 people having an opinion on your grade planning ahead is essential.

Why Are Complex Node Graphs An Issue?

If you are grading for yourself with no time pressure then it’s not an issue!

If you are grading with a room full of people who’s opinion changes quicker than an Irish summer (In Ireland we joke that summer normally only lasts a weekend before it starts raining again) it can be a nightmare.

In this Insight, I’ll share some of my own bad node graphs that caused me difficulty and my solution for moving forward

The main issue I’ve run into is painting myself into a corner. I’ve found in the effort to please my director I have gone for very extreme looks but when the clients send the usual feedback of :

  • It’s too dark make it brighter
  • Can we make the product pop more?
  • This seems very noisy. Can we please remove this noise?
  • At 00:23 the actor’s face is slightly too dark for 3 frames. Can we lift this?
  • I’m sure you all get the picture at this stage!

Let’s jump over to my video insight for some examples and my thoughts for moving forward.

If you’ve got any questions, be sure to leave a comment!


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Homepage Forums How to Color Grade With Client Revisions In Mind

  • Great advise here.
    I just found myself in a situation as you described.

    I graded a bit more than half of a project with a director that i really get along with, next day the agency came over, i show them what we did (the director wasn’t present at the time) and the agency guy said he loved it, just wanted to fix some stuff here and there.

    Stupidly i didn’t save any stills nor didn’t version up and we ended up doing everything more saturated and contrasty.

    The director hated it and now i will have to re-grade everything trying to get back to what he liked.
    Of course my node graph is a mess because of all the changes that they asked, and i just append node after the other, rather then save stills and keep working on the graph i already had built

    Next time i will “grab all still” every couple of hours or so. That could save me lots of headache.

  • This is great Dan, it’s like node therapy thank you! With the drp save method not including stills in 12.5 any suggestions when moving from system at work to finish remotely? I just create folders for each gallery and export stills but it’s time consuming, I assume bmd got rid of that because it caused problems.

  • Marc Wielage

    I always start a new Version whenever a director or another creative person in the session asks for a change. At worst, if somebody later asks, “hey, can you go back to the way we had it before,” we can do that. Group post-grades can also help for overall changes like more saturation or more contrast. If I have to finish a session in a different place, I always export with stills just as a double-secret backup. And I just had to use about two dozen Gallery still grades when a ColorTrace failed on about 30 shots out of 500 on a job last week. Sometimes, the stills can save you. (But this was a rare incident for me.)

  • Stefan Seul

    First thing I heard on my holiday in Ireland: ‘Last year, summer was on a tuesday.’

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Colin – In 12.5 you *can* export with Stills and LUTs; if you open the Project Manage & then right-click on the Project you want to export. BM made it into a stand-alone option… but for some reason they didn’t put that option in the File menu.

  • I definitely know how to rush myself into a corner too, Dan 😀
    Great video and i know exactly what you mean with it, been working on organising and simplifying my grades lately.
    Did a big for me project recently with 4 people in the room and could feel how I’m getting more and more lost in my own grade.
    Was a stressful but very important experience. In the end all worked out and everyone was happy though 🙂

    Ill see if i can find a screen grab of one of the short commercials i did this march, think i might even beat what you have going on with your here LOL

  • Dan Moran

    I unfortunately learned that lesson the hard way too. I like that when I have the stills saved I can say to the director this is exactly as we had it before. Sometimes that re-grade to get to the original point is the longest grade!

  • Dan Moran

    Well I learned something new today!

  • Dan Moran

    I love using versions but I got stung a few months back when a new edit came over and I spent quite a long time making my versions match up. I ended up taking screen grabs of the old timeline so I could make sure that shot 23 was version 7 shot 25 was version one etc.. I’ve been a little afraid to go down that road since!

  • Dan Moran

    It’s so true! People always ask me what it’s like working in the dark all the time but I simply tell them that I’m Irish and I’m used to it 😉

  • I almost always work with Remote grades, but at important points (rendering, edit change, new timeline arrives for new spot with some shared footage with old delivered edit) I’ll duplicate the timeline, rename the duplicate with L or LOCKED at the start of the name, and convert Remote grades to Local. This way I can ensure I can always get back to the original grade, any small changes or confusion with remote grades is reversible.

    I’ve also gotten in the habit of naming my versions descriptively – this helps keep track of versions used to split up grades on long takes. I’ll call them things like CU FL V1 (closeup foreground left version 1), MED 2X TLNT V1 (medium shot of 2 talent version 1). Using this in conjunction with the presence or absence of tracking info will usually be enough to know which is the right version when trying to sort the versions on a new edit.

    For more traditional use of versions – backups when trying something new, adjusted grades to match different preceding shots in a new edit etc – I’ll tend to leave them as Version 1, Version 2, but i’ll always try to make sure that the current approved grade has the highest number. This means if we try out version 3, but settle on version 2, I’ll rename version 2 to version 1B or similar.

    When matching versions, a handy technique is to go to the edit page copy and paste your new timeline down the end of your old (graded and versioned) timeline. You can then turn on C mode which will sort the matching shots next to each other and you can clearly see the right version for the new footage. Once done you can cut and paste the edit back to the appropriate timeline.

  • I’ve also seen retouchers selected the whites in the skin and blur them on top of themselves

  • Dario Bigi

    Great insights Robbie. I appreciate the Midtone detail tip. I tend to forget about it in my tool box. Hope the new shop is going gangbusters.

  • Yeah I also had not seen that right in front of me…ha! Thanks Patrick!

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