Patrick’s Shot Matching Workflow

March 27, 2015

Do you have trouble with shot matching while color correcting video? This tutorial will show you a reproducible workflow for any software.

Here’s on Mixing Light we’ve talked quite a bit about shot matching. But as I mentioned in my previous Insight about matching shots in Final Cut Pro X, it’s been a challenge to present it in a way that’s repeatable. Why? Well, in case you missed my discussion of this in the FCP X Desert Island Challenge series, that’s because shot-matching is a Left Brain, Right Brain operation. It’s both logical and creative.

For a full breakdown of this Left / Right theory, read the text of this Insight. Which gets us to what I’m doing in today’s video Insight.

I’m answering an email from a Mixing Light member about shot matching

His question is:

Most days we are colour correcting and grading files from different cameras, ie; Canon LOG, Sony LOG, CineStyle, Protune ect and while everything is super flat all the different types of LOG file are slightly different in luminance and contrast.

Would be great to know how you guys approach this as a workflow and your starting point in getting all the LOG files to match before you start your grade.

First, I’ll say that any organized approach to shot matching is the same

It doesn’t matter if your images are LOG, RAW or gamma adjusted to Rec.709 or whatever… 80% of the time our workflow looks like:

1. Set Contrast

2. Set Saturation

3. Set color balance

Don’t worry about shot matching at this point. Just get the individual images to look good on their own. Our first correction is always to see what the shot is naturally giving us and to find how much we need to push it to get it to a good starting point. Sometimes we have to change it up bit because the color balance is so completely wrong that it’s impossible to evaluate contrast and saturation.

With shots that have extreme color balance problems, the other 20% of the time the workflow looks like:

1. Fix color balance

2. Set Contrast

3. Set Saturation

4. Refine color balance

On Log- or Raw- or Flat-recorded images, how you expand contrast doesn’t really matter

You can use a LUT. Or you can use the Contrast / Pivot controls. Or your ‘normal’ 3-Way Color Correction controls. Each will give you slightly different initial starting points, one of which may be easiest to work with depending on the footage and the final Look you’re trying to achieve. For my full thoughts on this, be sure to watch my entire series on color correcting with LUTs.

Once we’ve got each shot looking good on its own then its time to start shot matching. And that’s what I’ll be showing in this Insight.

We’ll do shot matching in both DaVinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro X

I want to show you how my approach doesn’t change and I’ll be using two different projects to demonstrate my workflow. Again, I want to give you an easy-to-follow and reproducible workflow that minimizes Right-Brain, touchy-feely approach to shot matching and maximizes the Left-Brain logical approach since Left-Brain approaches are much easier to learn and adapt into your workflow.

Enjoy the video below and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

– pat

Member Content

Sorry... the rest of this content is for members only. You'll need to login or Join Now to continue (we hope you do!).

Need more information about our memberships? Click to learn more.

Membership options
Member Login

Are you using our app? For the best experience, please login using the app's launch screen


Homepage Forums Patrick’s Shot Matching Workflow

  • Should an Insight that is more than 20 minutes still be called an Insight? 😉
    Congrats on releasing such in-depth thoughts on the topic.

    By the way, for FCPX users dealing with Log material coming from different cameras (ARRI, BlackMagic, Canon and Sony), there is a pretty hidden but useful function to apply a Rec.709 LUT on the footage, straight from within the app (no plugin-in needed). This can serve as a starting point. Here’s a short video from Ben Consoli showing how to proceed:

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Yeah – I’ve started recording my Colorist Flight School training… which kind’a puts me in ‘verbose mode’ 😉 I did think about cutting out the how intro as to how I set up that timeline. Next time, on an Insight this long, I will. I broke the ‘an Insight is one thought’ rule by not doing so.

    In truth, this Insight was recorded more for me than for anyone else as I work on teaching this concept… my next challenge… teach shot matching in under 8 minutes!

    RE: FCP X and LUTS – It’s nice that FCP X built in the LUT functionality. But remember… LUTs are for contrast expansion, not shot matching which, in the end, is about the Perception of Matched Shots and not the Technically Matched Shots.

  • Would love to know more tips and tricks for shot matching, as this is where I feel i needs further development so I can be fast. Great starting point, love the insight even tho it was longer. Thanks Pat!!

  • If I’m having particular trouble matching a shot sometimes I save a still of the shot that I’m matching to and use it as a reference while checking my scopes and toggling quickly. If there are sections that are particularly challenging I’ll split screen the still and try to find areas that have common values and match them up. Of course they have to pass the eye test and look good in context, but I find it generally helps a lot.

  • Willian Aleman

    Great insignt.
    Wondering why for this insight instead of switching from shot to shot you didn’t use the split screen for shot matching. I find this to be more precised and less distracting to eyes, like a dog eating, one eye on the plate and the other on the cat.

Log in to reply.

1,000+ Tutorials to Explore

Get full access to our entire library of over 1,100+ color tutorials for an entire week!

Start Your Test Drive!