Smart take on getting a BIG budget look?
For all of the filmmakers out there, you know just how important colour grading is to establishing a shot, a world and even an entire theme.
You also know how DIFFICULT it is to get a consistent look, tweak it to satisfaction and even learn the ways of grading efficiently and effectively to start with.
Cinema Grade is here to save the day and bring a new approach to colour grading, but is it any good? Let’s find out. First off, what is Cinema Grade?
So Cinema Grade is a direct image based colour grading tool that lets you grade right within your viewer in a far simpler and intuitive way than current tools.
It works as a plugin for Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro X on the Mac.
Generally you would have to focus on dials or sliders, trying to isolate the colours you want to change, then carefully adjust them without messing up other areas.
Cinema Grade lets you instead directly pick them ON THE IMAGE and simply drag them to where you want them to be. It’s honestly a revelation and makes you think about why it hasn’t been done before. It’s so simple but so powerful being able to see exactly what is being changed and then tweaking it.
Ofcourse you always have the option of using sliders and scopes within CG to fine tune, but it’s nice not having to ONLY rely on them, feels a little archaic in comparison.
Let’s go over the features one by one and see what they can do, then I’ll tell you about my general workflow and how I feel about the plugin.
Easily adjust exposure and contrast with click and drag up/down motions to increase or decrease exposure/contrast. Selectively adjust shadows, mids and highs based on where you click.
Achieve instant white balance with built-in auto tool. Colour temperature can then be fine tuned by dragging up on the image to warm it up or down to cool it down.
Easily adjust overall saturation with click and drag up/down motions to increase or decrease saturation. Selectively adjust saturation in shadows, mids and highs based on where you click.
Easily perform secondary colour corrections to change the hue, luma and saturation of specific colours or objects in a scene based on where you click.
Easily tackle the difficult task of matching multiple shots together with the side-by-side viewer. Choose a ‘hero’ shot, add clips to the group and match all the shots in the group to the ‘hero.’
Enable the ‘False Colours’ feature to see different luma values represented as different colours. “Red” is overexposed, “purple” too dark and skin should like in the “grey”, “green” and “pink” areas.
Get realtime preview of LUTs as thumbnails and choose from over 90 built-in Hollywood film looks based on mood, location, time of day, genre or colour scheme.
Easily match the colour palette of your favourite image or film with the Look Transfer Tool. Simply import a screenshot or any reference frame then click “Match” use the colour controls to fine-tune.
Easily get log images to a good base starting point using colour science developed by the Academy. Simply choose your camera profile and the display you’re using.
If you incorporate one of the Xrite ColorChecker Video charts as apart of your video production let Cinema Grade perform auto exposure and colour balance corrections.
As you can see, Cinema Grade is the full package, pretty much every feature you could ever need for grading and achieving your Hollywood look on a budget.
Generally speaking, I import all of my footage into FCPX, use Cinema Grade to colour correct the shots in the ‘Base Correction’ panel, so correcting any tint or WB issues, as well as lightening / darkening shots if I missed exposure slightly to match. Just doing it to eye so it looks decent.
This is where the click and drag approach of grading really comes into play, being able to click a slightly overexposed sky and dropping exposure down with a little drag is so good.
Or things such as desaturating certain colours in the scene is so simple. I love it.
Once corrected, I go into the ‘Shot Matching’ panel, establishing a ‘Hero’ shot of each set, then grouping all the shots into relevant groups.
Then I make corrections and adjustments to the Hero shot and can super quickly apply those modifications to all the other grouped shots. Makes matching an absolute BREEZE.
When they are all matched up and looking nice, it’s a simple process of doing the final overall look ‘Final Grading’. So whether you want the classic Orange / Teal look or go for something of your own style, this is the place to do it.
You can also use your favourite LUTs, or use one of the 90 built-in Hollywood style colour looks.
The built-in looks are actually VERY good, I’ve used a few of them already and they give a natural but stylised look. Not over done as in some other packages.
What I really enjoy in this process again is the direct grading on the preview, being able to say ‘I think these reds need to be a little more saturated and the sky take on a cyan hue.’ is simply a matter of selecting it and dragging to your desired look. It really does transform how you think.
My conclusion is that Cinema Grade is a fully fleshed out, easy to use, direct, innovative and simply FUN colour grading plugin to use that ANYONE can benefit from in their workflow.
It is so easy to use and you are gently guided through the colouring process. I honestly believe you can take a complete colouring novice, give them a 5 minute tutorial and they would be on their way to getting a good cinematic look.
However Cinema Grade is an in-depth solution, even experienced colourists and filmmakers will be able to achieve exactly the look they have in mind in a shorter timeframe than most standard approaches.
I’m a huge fan and will definitely be using it going forward.
You can find out more on https://cinemagrade.com/ and even give it a spin with the Free Trial.
When you decide to buy it, it’s priced from $69, which is an absolute bargain in my eyes.
They are so certain you’ll love it that there is even a 30 day money back guarantee!
I’d also recommend you check out their Cinema Grade Pro Academy, takes you from a complete novice to the in-depth tricks and tips that will make you a Pro. Priced at $50.