Common Color Grading Mistakes To Avoid

Color is fundamental to photography and videography, but the way color is used is not always the same across both mediums. It isn't uncommon for videographers to make some common mistakes with their color grading, so here are the ones you ought to avoid.

Many photographers have transitioned into video, myself included. This is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, many stills cameras are hybrid, catering for both photo and video. Not only that, but some of the best stills cameras are also highly impressive video cameras too. With that option available to you, you're going to dip a toe sooner or later. Secondly — and I think this is the bigger reason — the demand for video has rocketed since social media made it the primary way of viewing content. Whether video was doing better than photographs in terms of analytics, so platforms catered for it, or platforms made it possible and the demand grew, either way, video is central to social media.

You may love social media or you may hate and avoid it, if you want to work in the industry, you need to know about it for most genres, and even if you aren't active on it yourself, you'll likely have to shoot with social media in mind for clients. So, if you're making that move over to video, it's worth learning about the process. A lot of the skills are transferable from photography, but there are some traps you can fall into, one of which is how you color grade your work. In this video, Evan Ranft goes through some of the common mistakes made when color grading videos and these mistakes are typically seen when it's a photographer transitioning into video.

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7 Comments

stuartcarver's picture

As a Colourblind photographer (I know right)... I’ve just given up and apply a film simulation in capture one as my colour grading, figured the experts are better than I am.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Remind me, why do YouTubers need a microphone that is bigger than their head... :)

stuartcarver's picture

To check door frames to make sure there is enough space to fit their egos through.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I don't think it's just them. It's for those that want great sound quality is my guess.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Except (speaking as an ex 24-track recording studio engineer and sound recordist from the BBC), it isn't great sound we hear in many cases.

I can get better sound from a hidden clip mic than most of these guys with big mics. They don't know where to put them, don't understand proximity effect and certainly have little idea of dynamics control.

There are certainly some lovely large diaphragm mics out there that sound fantastic. I'm thinking of the Neumann 87 / 47 mics or the AKG 414, or the Tube Neumann M147, (ahhh I loved those days back in the studio...) but we also now see a whole load of "large diaphragm" mics which are not quite so tasty.

With these large diaphragm mics, there is a sweet spot - and that is rarely the "nearly eating" position that most YouTubers seem to prefer.

But with all that, they all seem to need a massive mic. :) I guess the must have seen everyone else using them...

(I don't want to take away the teaching element from the video which is great, and my comment was a bit tongue in cheek - but the observation still stands... YouTubers "need" big mics.) :)

Spy Black's picture

Although I agree with what you say concerning the use, I have to differ on the modern availability of mass produced large and small condensers, as well as high flux magnet dynamics. There's good, decent gear out there, for cheap. There was a time long ago when the likes of a Neumann, AKG, or Schoeps mic were head and shoulders above the rest, but those days are long gone. As you've noticed, it's how equipment is used that matters.

No one mentions the preamps they go into either, which is the other half of the equation. Even there though, modern mass production allows for the creation of high quality preamps, also for cheap. Of course, spoken word isn't heavily taxing process, but the prereamp is still part of the equation.

It really comes down to how you use any gear. Give me a cheap mic and preamp and some analog or digital signal processing, and give the average YouTuber a Neumann and a John Hardy preamp and similar procssing, and let's see which one of us makes a better recording. ;-)

Marco Fiorini's picture

Evan is a cool guy, I appreciate the originality of his content..I mean, maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that this guy took his time to think about his content a little bit more than the average.