November 17, 2014

How to Choose the Best Color Correction Tool for Your Individual Workflow

DaVinci Resolve Three-Way Color Correction
There are countless methods and tools for color correcting and grading your footage. In fact, there are so many that figuring out which one is best suited for your individual post workflow can be completely overwhelming. But worry not. Wolfcrow is here to help.

First and foremost, for those of you who aren't familiar with Sareesh Sudhakaran's blog Wolfcrow, it's a literal goldmine of information about every kind of filmmaking workflow imaginable, everything from ingest and logging workflows to grading, mastering, and archival workflows. If you're wondering whether any hypothetical workflow will work for you, Wolfcrow is always a great place to start researching.

With that out of the way, let's talk about color correction -- more specifically, the tools necessary for performing color correction. There are quite literally hundreds of software tools available today that offer some semblance of color functionality, whether it be RAW converters, film emulation plugins, standalone color applications, or even the the tools built natively into all modern NLEs. With so many options, there's a whole lot to consider when you're trying to choose the one (or more) color tools that are best suited to your individual workflow.

In a recent post over on Wolfcrow, Sareesh laid out just about everything that you'd need to consider in order to make that choice a bit easier.

Here's Sareesh's advice in a nutshell.

  • If I don’t have time to leave the NLE, or if the client isn’t paying for grading, I choose built-in tools or plugins.
  • If I’m compositing, keying, etc., and the same holds true as above, then I use the built-in tools or plugins in After Effects.
  • If the above holds true, but not all shots need to be graded, I use Color Finesse. It really is a joy to grade. Too bad I have to go back and forth for each clip.
  • If all shots need to be graded, or if I’m shooting RAW or Log footage, then I will use Speedgrade (or Resolve, if that’s what you prefer).
  • I use RAW converters only if I’m using a specific camera and I need to create looks, dailies, etc., or I need to handle metadata.

Personally, I only find myself using the built-in color tools in Premiere if I need to do something extremely simple and quick, like correcting white balance or adding a preset look from SpeedGrade. Otherwise, I gravitate towards DaVinci Resolve for a vast majority of my color work, even despite the fact that I cut in Premiere and roundtripping with SpeedGrade would be the most practical solution. I just find the Resolve interface to be far more intuitive, which ultimately ends up saving me time in my post process.

Share your preferred color grading tools and workflows with us down in the comments!     

Your Comment

19 Comments

"Pick Resolve!"

LOL! Very funny part.

November 17, 2014 at 8:39PM

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Resolve at first was painful, but the more I use it the more I'm loving it!

November 18, 2014 at 1:22AM, Edited November 18, 1:22AM

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matt
915

I hope Adobe will make Speedgrade more intuitive (Learn from resolve) I hope Speedgrade can be the only colour package you need, I rely on After effects and audition, I wish I could use Speedgrade just as easily. It was hinted at by Adobe in the 'Gone Girl' Seminar that they are trying to get their grading better. Lets hope it happens soon.

November 18, 2014 at 1:31AM

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Martin Bleazard
Editor//Writer//Colourist
82

I'm quite happy with Speedgrade. I love the integration with Premiere. However I am very new to grading outside of Premiere, so I am learning as I go, and see the new prospects as positives over what I had previously in Premiere alone. Additionally nodes have never made sense to me. Coming from a photo background with Photoshop, I am quite used to layers.

November 18, 2014 at 11:13PM

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Michael Markham
Actor/Filmmaker
961

At our in-house production and post-production company, we shoot 90% RED with some FS700 and other rented gear. Editorial uses FCPX, VFX uses After Effects and C4D, and I do initial correction in RCX and then finish color in Resolve. We ingest the RED mags to our XSAN and run all the clips through Red Cine X for initial primary corrections –contrast, blacks, saturation, whites and propagate that new metadata in the RMD's. The footage is now prepped for editorial in FCPX and VFX selects in AE and C4D. The huge benefit of this workflow is that if one changes the color of a clip anytime from here on out in RCX, the clip will update the corrections in real time in FCPX editorial and VFX AE/C4D. This means minimal versioning. This also means that these two steps can happen at the same time and save huge amounts of time so that by the time editorial is done, primary color corrections are as well leaving secondaries and look grading to finishing in Davinci Resolve. This is why a RED workflow is a superior workflow.

November 18, 2014 at 2:31AM

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Resolve has been extremely accessible given the lite version and Denver Riddle's how-to videos.

November 18, 2014 at 3:22AM

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I worked some time with Resolve but switched to SpeedGrade as I started to work more with Premiere Pro. I think the biggest problem with Resolve and SpeedGrade is, that you need a giant screen to make the controls fit. The other point is, that working with Resolve or SpeedGrade is a lot less intuitive than for example with Lightroom. It's still not clear to me, why Adobe can't build such a simple interface for SpeedGrade.

November 18, 2014 at 8:01AM

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DaSch
86

Resolve has to be the easiest-to-use "pro" program I've ever used. They really nailed it with the balance of power and features with an easy and intuitive interface.

For in-the-NLE color work, I love Red Gian't products, especially Colorista II.

I used SpeedGrade for half a dozen projects and I've shelved it for Resolve. Round-tripping is nice, but the ease and speed of use doesn't come close to Resolve. Most notably, the tracker, something I use in almost every grade. SpeedGrade's motion tracking is painfully slow compared to Resolve's.

November 18, 2014 at 8:11AM

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David S.
2866

If using Raw: I use speed grade to create basic looks that I adjust the raw settings to fit the look.

If i need something really crazy stylized I use Red Giant looks. It's by far the fastest one for.

I use resolve if I really need to tweak a sequence.

November 18, 2014 at 8:48AM

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David Sharp
Video Editor, Cinematographer, Teacher
412

Resolve is just better, to say nothing of the fact that I just dont have any faith in the accuracy of the adobe built in scopes. Though uncalibrated scopes in resolve are better, they still arent perfect, just good enough for most things. At least SG has curves now so I dont feel like I am trying to grade with just one hand. The Hue vs Sat and Hue vs Luma curves are life savers for isolating mixed lighting problems and the Resolve Tracker is muy bueno.

November 18, 2014 at 10:52AM, Edited November 18, 10:52AM

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Jay Mead
Colorist/Paintball Filmmaker/Colorado
147

Hummm... Resolve only supports cards from Blackmagic? Where's that coming from? I'm using an nVidia card and everything is realtime unless I use heavy denoise. Also, the guy says that Resolve is slow!?! I wonder what kind of HW he's using. Stop waisting time with After Effects, just get Resolve. That's the way to go. It's free too.

November 18, 2014 at 3:41PM, Edited November 18, 3:41PM

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Resolve only supports Blackmagic cards for monitoring, as in, it doesn't support Matrox and AJA. That's what he's talking about, not graphics cards.

November 18, 2014 at 9:46PM

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David S.
2866

Shoutout for Color Finesse. It's a great program buried in another program you'd never use for heavy color correction or grade. Wish they'd make a stand alone version or a better plugin for NLEs. The last time I tried using it in Premiere it broke something and I had to reinstall the entire Adobe CC suite. Still, it's a great way to get stuff done in After Effects, if you somehow end up there.

November 19, 2014 at 4:34AM

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Ty
Cinematographer, Editor, Director
546

I drop off my drive (footage and EDL) at the post-house and then sit with my colorist in baselight or resolve..
Not sure that was helpful?

November 19, 2014 at 9:37AM

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Elias Ressegatti
Director
270

"it's a literal goldmine"...do you literally mean it's a mine containing gold?

November 19, 2014 at 4:59PM, Edited November 19, 4:59PM

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I know nobody like literalists, the grammar police...etc... (which is why I imagine Cooper's comment got voted down), but man, if ever there was a time to use the word a word correctly, it's for the word, "literally". It's just hard to take a post seriously when there's is so much hyperbole and rhetoric, starting at the beginning of an article. It's even worse when it's not just rhetoric and hyperbole, but it's incorrect too. Later on, "literally" is used again and maybe it's correct and maybe not, but it sure sounds like hyperbole to me...are there literally hundreds (not scores or dozens) of (current, relevant) grading tools? Whatever the case, it's a good article beyond the sloppy style. Thank you.

November 27, 2014 at 6:40AM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2262

I'm loving Resolve. It's tracker + power windows are a treat to work with. And once you've got used to node-based workflow, it's really powerful and intuitive. Now I'm eyeing Fusion 7 and hoping that would replace AE for me.

November 21, 2014 at 4:25AM

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PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics
341

How would you guys deal with warp stabilizer, reverse speed, etc. effects in a Premiere > Resolve workflow?I recently edited a piece in Premiere, and had so many issues translating effects that I ended up just correcting and grading in Premiere... wasn't the end of the world but would have liked to have the option.

Thanks!

November 21, 2014 at 9:43AM

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Roddy Hyduk
Filmmaker
74

For most shoots, Speedgrade does the trick. If I have the time and money, I choose Resolve. It grades so much better.

November 21, 2014 at 6:24PM

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William Stewart
Director of Photography
534