How To Achieve True Cinematic Color Using the Hollywood Method

With color being one of the most important aspects of any videographers work, it is something worth learning. And it's so much more than just a preset or Look-up Table (LUT).

One of the best lessons about color I've experienced was one I found by accident quite early on in my time with a camera. I would often have mood boards filled with images in a style I liked, and I would go to shoot a portrait, then I would come back and try to mimic that inspiration's look with regards to color and to exposure. I remember I took a portrait of a model that I was fond of and then when I got it into Lightroom and Photoshop, I simply could not get it anywhere near this "look" my inspiration image had. The warm colors didn't look natural, the shadows didn't hold the right color, and so on. I eventually found a professional retoucher and had her take a whack at it. She was better than my inexperienced hands, but it still wasn't right.

Some way down the line, I realized that I hadn't really shot for the look I was aiming at. I had shot a properly exposed and properly posed portrait, but I hadn't really taken the time to breakdown the look of my inspiration image and examine the light. Now, video is certainly different in many ways, but shooting with your processing phase at the forefront of your mind is a constant.

In this video, cinematographer Spenser Sakurai, goes through some famous films and how they expose to the right (ETTR) to get the right amount of information, even though they plan to bring the exposure right down in post.

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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