Color-grading is a process whereby the colors within an image are adjusted to “real-world” levels. Even the most expensive cameras do not have the processing power to adjust the overall color of an image as it is recorded, or compensate for varying light sources. Using a color grading application is imperative to a high quality final product. This is often overlooked by operators who adjust color grades to what their eye tells them is correct. Color is scientific measurable dimension, and should be treated as such during production and post-production.
The best photographs and video are shot in a very “flat” profile, with as little processing as possible, being done in camera. In the clip below, you can see what a flat profile looks like. It stores much more accurate data per pixel (color spot) than camera modified images. Then the colorist does their work on the PC and applies true color profile to the images.
An industry standard color checker, as pictured below, is utilised during recording of photographs and videos to set a reference point for color correction to be done later. If the 24 colors below, are matched in the image being color-graded by the software being used for the grading purpose, then the full spectrum of color in the image will be adjusted correctly, the starting point for bringing the image color to decent levels. Then saturation levels, brightness, contrast and the other dozen color items can be adjusted to reach a final product of realistic color quality.
Below is a short video showing the difference between a raw image, and a color-graded image.