Thinking Like A Colorist – Considering Final Contrast Pt. 1

October 2, 2016

Considering Final Contrast before you make your first primary correction is a huge advantage creatively to help you get the best results


Which tool should I choose for this shot?

I’m kicking off a new series based on how to think like a colorist. I spend my days grading every kind of project imaginable and the most important decision happens instinctually before I even touch the first control. This series will focus on the thought process that goes into each grade.

What are we trying to achieve with contrast?

The first thing that happens when I grade is not think about what camera it was shot on, how compressed the source footage might be or even what is possible to do in the grade.

My first thought is where would I like this to end up?

The reason this is such an important decision is I use totally different controls to create my primary contrast look depending on what kind of project that I’m working on.

For our contrast options we can use :

  • Lift Gamma Gain
  • Log Controls
  • Luma Only Lift Gamma Gain
  • Offset / Printer Lights
  • Contrast & Pivot
  • Curves
  • LUTs

Each one of these tools plays such a different result in the look of the final contrast of the image.

Let’s jump over to my video insight below and I’ll start by showing you my latest showreel and speaking through my contrast decisions and demonstrating the difference in the toolsets.

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


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Homepage Forums Thinking Like A Colorist – Considering Final Contrast Pt. 1

  • Good reminder about the Color setting for the contrast to be a S shape (instead of linear). Thanks!

  • Really great Insight, thanks Dan! This has me thinking differently about how I expand contrast and order of operations etc. Cant wait to see more of this and the curves insights.

  • Great insight! Look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on contrast in the future! Love the curves tips

  • Good refresher seeing it side by side. Sometimes having too many options confuses and limiting it based on the desired target range is a good one. Bring it on Dan, looking forward to the rest of this series.

  • Greyson A

    This was a fantastic insight. I will definitely add this into my pre-grade considerations for every project.

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