Professional Color Grading Techniques in DaVinci Resolve

 

This course provides colorists with an in-depth overview of professional color grading techniques and look creation in DaVinci Resolve 16.

The main concepts discussed in the course are advanced contrast management, balancing techniques and look development. The focus is primarily on higher end color grading, color theory and teaching techniques that took professional colorists years of experience to master.

The course is presented by Kevin P. McAuliffe but is created together with professional colorists that have contributed with insight about their work methods. Kevin uses DaVinci Resolve 16, but it is taught with the goal of showing techniques that can be used in any color corrector.

The footage used in this course is available for download so that you can easily follow along. In addition, we have included power grades so that you can deeply study the node structures and color grading techniques demonstrated in the course, and a free sample of 35mm film grain from our friends over at Cinegrain.

 

COURSE OVERVIEW

 

LESSON 01: S-CURVE MANIPULATION

The curve is the key component of contrast creation, and in the first lesson we look at the basics of the curve and curve shaping.

LESSON 02: CORRECTIONS IN LOG SPACE AND GAMMA SPACE

We continue to explore how brightness affects the curve in log- and gamma space, and how to manipulate the curve in a log workflow.

LESSON 03: COMPRESSION TECHNIQUES

In this lesson we look at how to disturb the luma vs. distance ratio of the curve with compression techniques to challenge the contrast and create a printed look. This technique is often used as a base to create a painterly feeling with limited dynamic range.

LESSON 04: LOW LUMA COMPRESSION TECHNIQUES 

We dive deeper into compression techniques and how to compress low luminance levels, add speculars and  details with gamma stretching and the log controls.

LESSON 05: PRINTER LIGHTS FUNDAMENTALS

Now that we have a better understanding of contrast management, we look at the fundamentals of printer lights that we will use to balance and create looks later in the course.

LESSON 06: PRINTER LIGHTS WORKFLOW

In this lesson we look at using printer lights in a log workflow and watching the results through our curves.

LESSON 07: BALANCING TECHNIQUES

Now it's time to analyze and match shots with the help of what we have learned about printer lights. We also take a closer look into using the RGB-parade and the vectorscope. We will also discuss some thesis questions related to balancing in general.

LESSON 08: BOUNCING TO CREATE LOOKS

We are ready to create our first desaturated and moody look by bouncing in colors though a defined node structure.

LESSON 09: UNDERSTANDING COLOR HARMONY

Colorists need to understand what makes an image look pleasant to the eye and in this lesson we discuss the important of color harmony. We are building on the look from the previous lesson to create color separation and tweek the colors into an analogous color scheme.

LESSON 10: COLOR CHANNEL MIXING TO CREATE UNIQUE LOOKS

In this lesson we look at how to create a modern and cold look with the help of channel mixing and opacity control.

LESSON 11: GRIT AND TEXTURE

We will go though techniques to bouncing luma controls agains each other to bring out texture, create silver tints to add rawness, clip the blacks and advanced sharpen techniques to bring out grit.

LESSON 12: NODE COLOR MIXING

Node color mixing is a very important skill to master for every colorist, and by combining colors and strengths we will get access to unlimited color combinations that can be used in look development. We will see how our color combinations blends onto the tonal range we have established.

LESSON 13: PIPING A KEY DOWNSTREAM

In this lesson we work with separate streams and color transforms to pipe super clean keys.

LESSON 14: LOCAL EDGE SOFTENING

This lesson is about isolating the local edges in the images and working with them to create a softer image without loosing the overall sharpness.

LESSON 15: CREATING VOLUME IN THE WHITES

We will look at another important compression method for creating volume in the highlights and reduce the sharp thin feeling of digital images. 

LESSON 16: EVENING OUT SKIN TONES

Going through a very popular technique to even out skin tones and take care of imperfections.

LESSON 17: SOFT SATURATED LOOKS

In this lesson we will dial in a soft contrast and create color contrast with varying hue strenghts.

LESSON 18: FILM EMULATIONS AND GRAIN TECHNIQUES

In our final lesson we will create a new look with a Film Emulation LUT, the log controls and add texture with a 35mm fine grain sample (that you will get for free sponsored by Cinegrain). We will look at different techniques to enhance the structure of the grain.

 

 

Become a premium member and get instant access to all the courses and content on Lowepost.

 

Become a Premium Member

 



  • Like 30
  • Thanks 10

User Feedback

Recommended Comments



Great insights, it would be good also to see an ACES workflow without using the Arri LUT.

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is by far the best color grading course I have ever seen and these techniques has already changed both the way I think about approaching images and how I work. I realized that the compression techniques does the magic that I have seen in high-end work, and it was a big eye opener to me how the colors find its place in the tonal range of the image by building nodes this way. I can't thank you guys enough for this course.


 

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

This will make a huge difference on my workflow:) Thanks a lot Lowepost!

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some really great stuff in this courseI I will put the methods to good use while patiently waiting for more content like this 🤓

Quick question:
When "piping the key downstream", why create a new input instead of just pulling another pipe from the existing input?
 

  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Tomas Pettersson said:

Quick question:
When "piping the key downstream", why create a new input instead of just pulling another pipe from the existing input?

The first node will be optimized for the key operation only, and you don't necessarily want to build your grade on that. That's why you want to keep it separate from the main stream and leave it as a constant source to pull keys from.

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

In lesson 8 at 4:09 you say "Normally you'd want to dial in exposure first, as explained in earlier lessons".  Because of Resolve's Order of Operations (in Chapter 109, Node Editing Basics), the Offset operation takes place before the 3D LUT, so you are, in fact, demonstrating the same approach as explained in the earlier lessons.  I don't disagree that exposure correction before the LUT gives a very natural and intentional look.  I'm just quibbling with the explanation.

Edited by MichaelTiemann
Fixed typo
  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, MichaelTiemann said:

In lesson 8 at 4:09 you say "Normally you'd want to dial in exposure first, as explained in earlier lessons".  Because of Resolve's Order of Operations (in Chapter 109, Node Editing Basics), the Offset operation takes place before the 3D LUT, so you are, in fact, demonstrating the same approach as explained in the earlier lessons.  I don't disagree that exposure correction before the LUT gives a very natural and intentional look.  I'm just quibbling with the explanation.

We are not referring to order of operations inside of nodes at 04:09 in lesson 08.

Th difference is that we are dialing in exposure AFTER the color adjustments and not the other way around as seen in all the other lessons. This is because we want to demonstrate the impact brightness and contrast adjustments has on color and the reason why we encourage you to do it the other way around. 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aha, the key lesson I took from earlier lessons was the importance of applying exposure correction before the LUT, not with respect to other corrections.  I'll think harder about that...

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

In "Color channel mixing to create unique looks" you seem to know what numbers you want to put in the outputs of the various channels in the RGB mixer already. Where did those numbers come from? Is that often a combination you use? As someone that never uses the RGB mixer, I was a bit baffled at how you chose the numbers, even though I could see the overall effect.

Overall, I love how concise the lessons are. Thank you.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, James Lakey said:

In "Color channel mixing to create unique looks" you seem to know what numbers you want to put in the outputs of the various channels in the RGB mixer already. Where did those numbers come from? Is that often a combination you use? As someone that never uses the RGB mixer, I was a bit baffled at how you chose the numbers, even though I could see the overall effect.

Overall, I love how concise the lessons are. Thank you.

Thanks @James Lakey.

We have seen this particular setup a couple of times, but you will quite different results by playing around in the same area, shifting hue angles and adjusting the strengths. The combination of dialing in extreme colors and mapping them to the tonal range by adjusting the strength is an extremely powerful technique that allows numerous of looks, but it can take some time to get used to.  This is just an example.

When it comes to hitting the numbers in general in all the lessons it's because we have walked through the lessons several times prior to recording and don't want to waste your time "experimenting on screen".

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites



Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.