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What’s the Difference Between Color Correction and Color Grading?


Basically, color correction is fixing an image. Perhaps, the white balance is off, or certain colors are weak or too strong. Color Grading is the process to adjust the contrast, set the exposure and balance the color in all the clips in a scene, so they match each other. The final step is to create a look that supports the emotion and setting of the scene. 


The following image was from a video we were supplied and asked to clean-up and re-edit. 




Not great. It has an unattractive green color cast and the bright yellow shirt pulls the focus away from the woman. The green cast might have been caused by a faulty adjustment of the camera’s white balance or, perhaps, a light in the store was green. The emphasis on the bright yellow shirt looks like bad lighting. Whatever the reasons, this image needs to be corrected. 


Here’s the corrected image:


To correct the color, we adjusted the contrast and exposure then adjusted the white balance to remove some green. Secondarily, we sampled the shirt’s yellow color and pulled down its saturation and gain. Overall, the image has a warmer and more pleasing look.


So, what about Color Grading? The following example is from a recent P&P shoot. The video was shot in a flat, log format. Using log footage allows us to expand the dynamic range of the image to see more detail in the shadows and highlights. Here’s the log image:


It looks pretty uninteresting. But, by setting the contrast, exposure and color saturation we get this:


Much better. This is a good-looking basic image. We see plenty of detail – nothing is clipped. But, it’s still a bit bland. The scene takes place in the late afternoon just before the two friends head out to dinner. We created a much warmer look or color grade for the scene:


We hope that helps you understand the difference between color correction and color grading. If you have any questions, please contact us .

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