Professional Color Grading Techniques and Look Development 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 (Coming 01.03.20)

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.

 

 

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Thanks Lowepost, this is exactly what I've been waiting for.  Really appreciate all these great courses. Learnt so much.

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This course is amazing. Thanks so much for putting it out!

In lesson 7 at about 4:04, Kevin is grading before the Arri LUT. I noticed as he moves the blue offset back and forth, the red and green channels are effected as well. Is this an exposure compensation? In Baselight, FilmGrade has the ability to turn off "maintain density" to avoid this. Is there something similar in Resolve?

Thanks again!

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9 minutes ago, Josh Petok said:

This course is amazing. Thanks so much for putting it out!

 

In lesson 7 at about 4:04, Kevin is grading before the Arri LUT. I noticed as he moves the blue offset back and forth, the red and green channels are effected as well. Is this an exposure compensation? In Baselight, FilmGrade has the ability to turn off "maintain density" to avoid this. Is there something similar in Resolve?

Thanks again!

I thought setting Luma mix to zero when Sat is at 50 will not affect other channels. Forgive me if i am wrong. 

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10 minutes ago, Josh Petok said:

This course is amazing. Thanks so much for putting it out!

 

In lesson 7 at about 4:04, Kevin is grading before the Arri LUT. I noticed as he moves the blue offset back and forth, the red and green channels are effected as well. Is this an exposure compensation? In Baselight, FilmGrade has the ability to turn off "maintain density" to avoid this. Is there something similar in Resolve?

Thanks again!

I think the Arri lut causes that shift in the other channels.

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There is the issue of Luma Mix, and it might be that Kevin has changed two settings for his project:

One is "Luminance mixer defaults to zero"  and the other is "Use S-curve for Contrast", which give you more control over individual channels (at some risk).

Edited by Meagan Margaret Thomas

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2 minutes ago, Meagan Margaret Thomas said:

There is the issue of Luma Mix, and it might be that Kevin has changed two settings for his project:

One is "Luminance mixer defaults to zero"  and the other is "Use S-curve for Contrast", which give you more control over individual channels (at some risk).

Luma mix will affect lift-gamma-gain and the curves, because those use the YRGB processing, but offset is pure RGB, and luma mix has no effect on it.

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Thanks for this and for doing it over the weekend. Hope you manage to get some down time now.

 Looking forward to getting stuck in.

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2 hours ago, Josh Petok said:

In lesson 7 at about 4:04, Kevin is grading before the Arri LUT. I noticed as he moves the blue offset back and forth, the red and green channels are effected as well. Is this an exposure compensation?

Hi Josh,

Thanks for your kind words!

@Jussi Rovanperä is right, it's the LUT that causes the shift in the other channels.

When you watch any correction through any LUT,  the relationship between the different color channels that the curve is made up by will influence the result. That means, by pushing one of the color channels through a LUT, the other two will be altered. The more aggressive the LUT is, the more of your correction will be altered. 

When you do a correction prior to a Film Emulation LUT, the result will be altered differently than in a pure Technical LUT because the relationship between the color channels that the curve is made up by is different. This is even true when adjusting the exposure only.  Some LUTs will push more cold colors into the blacks when you lower the brightness, while others will push more warm colors into the highlights when you do the same thing. This is what we in the course refer to when we say that your corrections will expand and compress based on the shape of the curve.

It's important to understand the relationship between the correction you do and the LUT you work under, also when it comes to exposure alone. This is the way color timers worked back in the days as the signal would be altered depending on what film stock (LUT in a digital world) it was watched through. This workflow is adapted in the high-end post facilities and is considered the purest and most natural way to correct an image.

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