Color Correction Tutorial: Using DaVinci Resolve to Make Your Documentary Footage Shine

In the process of narrative filmmaking, a talented cinematographer can achieve the desired aesthetic through closely controlling the characteristics of light, color, and composition. In these cases, color correction shouldn't really be needed (although a creative grade can certainly take the image to another level). In documentary filmmaking, however, where many of the images are captured sporadically as the action unfolds (which can very easily lead to mismatched footage), the process of creating a unified aesthetic is usually left to the colorist. Luckily, John Ryan Seaman of GranolaTech has some excellent tips for grading your documentary-style footage that should help get you up to speed on the core concepts and techniques for color correction.

In this tutorial, an older version of DaVinci Resolve Lite is used, and it should be noted that it's only gotten more powerful since this video was made (it now supports 4K footage). Here's the tutorial:

One of the key takeaways from this video is just how quick and simple Resolve makes it to correct subtle (or horrid) white balance issues, which is one of the largest problems with run-and-gun footage. With a quick glance at the RGB parade, it's very easy to see where adjustments need to be made. Although the creator of the video uses the color wheels to make these adjustments (for the most part), I've always found RGB curves to be the quickest and most efficient method for straightening out a wonky RGB parade.

Another thing to mention is just how useful (and simple to use) the masking functions in Resolve are. Many young and aspiring colorists tend to work in broad strokes with their color correction, simply making changes to the entire image. Once you've got an idea of how to apply masks and create power windows within Resolve, the software becomes infinitely more powerful in regards to fixing all of the pesky color and luminance issues in your images. Not to mention that trackers in Resolve are absolutely top notch, so grading a moving subject should never be an issue.

Head on over to the GranolaTech YouTube channel to check out their work and their other tutorials. There's some good work there.

Let's hear your thoughts about this tutorial and using Resolve to quickly fix color issues down in the comments!

[via GranolaTech]

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Your Comment


Interesting, I always use the rgb mixer to eliminate casts. Casts are usually just an issue with one channel, the wheels will effect all the channels.

March 28, 2014 at 7:02PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Curves FTW! Especially if you're not using a control surface. I prefer to use lift/gamma/gain wheels for creative grading (though with a surface curves are probably not the fastest way to go...)

March 29, 2014 at 6:53AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Thanks for sharing. I have resolve installed (came with the BMCC) but haven't used it a lot yet. Just some basic color correction. This inspires me to get into resolve a bit more. Just gotta fiddle with throwing footage from and to premiere/resolve.

March 29, 2014 at 7:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Why sharpen in premiere?

March 30, 2014 at 1:43AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Matthew Scott's Resolve tutorial also helped me A LOT when starting to use the software. Great explanation of a lot of the features.

April 4, 2014 at 10:30AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Very interesting tutorial, with this we can think so the color correction can be done by all video professionnels.
For low cost. Thanks !!!!!

April 5, 2014 at 3:10AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM



How do you compare the full version Davinci Resolve to (full version) Baselight and Lustre?

October 1, 2014 at 12:27AM