Color Correction Starts During Your Shoot

It’s important to remember that the process of determining the overall look of your video begins when your scenes are lit and shot during production. To have the maximum amount of control over your clips in post-production, you need to start out with footage that has been exposed with your end goals in mind right from the beginning. Color correction in post-production is no substitute for good lighting.

Optimistically, the process of color correction can be seen as extending and enhancing the vision of the producer, director, and cinematographer or videographer as it was originally conceived. Often, the cinematographer or videographer gets personally involved during the color correction process to ensure that the look he or she was trying to achieve is perfected.

At other times, the director or producer may change his or her mind regarding how the finished piece should look. In these cases, color correction might be used to alter the overall look of the piece (for example, making footage that was shot to look cool look warmer, instead). While this degree of control is possible, it’s still important to start out with clean, properly exposed footage.

Using a Chip Chart in Production

In many productions, a chip chart is placed next to the slate at the beginning of every shot. This chart can be used during post-production to unambiguously correct each shot so that the color balance of your images can be perfectly corrected. This then gives the colorist a good neutral starting point for the color correction process.

Chip charts are especially useful during multicamera shoots with consumer-grade camcorders. The white balance settings on such cameras often won’t precisely match, even if manually adjusted. This can make cutting back and forth within a scene problematic because you’ll be cutting from one color temperature to another. If, however, you shoot a chip chart along with the slate at the beginning of each shot for each camera, you can use this to color correct the footage from every camera used in the shoot, so that all your shots match.

Figure. Diagram of a chip chart used for color calibration.