Color correction and color grading are important aspects of creating a professional looking video. When editing together a video you are taking clips shot at different times of the day with different natural lighting, and possibly, in the case of documentaries or promotional videos, from a different media source all together. It is important to differentiate between color correction and color grading when editing your video; the two terms are often used interchangeably, but doing one without the other could lead to a video that looks sloppy and amateurish.
Color correction happens with RAW video footage, or footage that had been unprocessed directly from the camera’s image sensor. In this stage of video editing a colorist will adjust exposure levels, white balance, contrast, and white and black levels, and remove ISO noise (the grainy look that appears in night footage). This step is essential, natural lighting changes white levels as the day goes on. Shooting something at noon and then doing a reshoot even a half hour later would have much higher white levels than the first shoot. Balancing the colors in your RAW footage will make the next process in the color correction process much easier for the rest of your video editing.
Color grading is a crucial step in creating the tone of your video, it is enhancing a color to create a mood or feeling for a scene. Whether you have consciously noticed it or not, color is used to set the tone of a scene before any action has happened or actor has uttered a word of dialog. Most people know that red is used for love, orange for warmth, pink for femininity and so on, but every color can elicit more than one feeling. Take green for example, immediately you may think of nature and peacefulness, but thinking of darker greens, or blue-greens may bring up ominous feelings or feelings of corruption. This is why color grading is so important, it sets the tone for the entire scene. A simple shot of one person approaching another from behind can be seen as friendly if an orange or yellow filter is used, or sinister if a dark blue or green is used. This scene, without any dialogue or context, can be spelled out for the viewer using only color.
Whether you are shooting a documentary, promotional video, or just doing something creative it is important to remember that color correction and grading is one of the most effective adjustments you can make to your work in the editing process. It effects the mood and tone of a piece and therefore how the final product is viewed as a whole.