Very often, clients confuse the terms color grading and color correction; don’t they mean the same thing? Even some industrial experts are not certain or aware of the differences and use the terms interchangeably!
Film makers traditionally altered film colors by applying chemicals on the film materials. In this digital age, color alteration has evolved with modern and comprehensive software, and expensive hardware. After all, both post-production processes use the same tools; the key difference lies in the reason you process the color and when you do it.
Color correction is the process of fixing lapses in color continuity or consistencies across shots in different scenes or takes. The different conditions include time of the day, or a same scene shot across multiple days.
Corrections such as white balance, noise (both adding and removing noise), and contrast are the most common aspects to create cohesion between scenes and shots. The lack of consistency in film may confuse and throw the audience off the story.
Usually done after color correction, color grading brings out the appeal of the story. It is the process of changing color to invoke feelings — think of them as Instagram filters! This process is called color grading (also called film grading or color timing in the olden days).
Essential for any high-end feature film quality productions, color grading is the secret sauce that makes a production “look expensive”. Most commonly used in the horror genre, color grading makes things black and cool with a tinge of blue (green if it’s produced in Thailand), instilling a sense of fear, despair and hopelessness.
Color correction and color grading are manpower intensive, time consuming and require lots of computing power. Cost aside, however, they give your videos the oomph to transition into a high value production, therefore increasing its effectiveness and reach.