So many elements go into the making of a film. Audio, lighting, color, action, and the camera angles all come together to create a cohesive professional look. There are many techniques that Hollywood studios employ to get the specific look we have come to associate with professionally made films. While we as amateur filmmakers don’t have million dollar budgets at our disposal, we can rack the Hollywood tool kit of tricks to make our films look as professional as the feature films we watch at the movies.
Film is chiefly a visual medium—even if your audio sounds great and your actors are fantastic no one’s going to be convinced that your production is legit unless it looks good. The best way to make a good-looking film is with color correction. Color correcting for film is like the Instagram of movies. It makes your colors pop or creates a soft look. Basic color correcting can be very easy. After you’ve created a rough cut of your film (so as not to waste time color correcting all of the footage you shot) simply click the clip you want to color correct. Then, within the video effects folder on the left hand side of the screen there will be a folder marked color correction. Inside that folder you will find all the tools you need to take your footage from good to spectacular.
The first thing you want to do when color correcting a clip is to achieve the correct exposure. This can usually be done by either upping the shadows or lowering the highlights if the clip is overexposed or lowering the shadows or upping the highlights if the clip is underexposed. Once your film has a correct exposure you can begin playing around with the colors through the use of a number of tools in the color correction folder. One of the most useful tools that Adobe offers is the three-way color corrector. It allows you to independently play around with the lower, middle, and upper hues of your footage until you achieve the color palette you want.
Remember, there is no “correct” way to color your footage. Oftentimes filmmakers will color their films hyper realistically to help convey a certain mood or theme. If your film is about hope and inspiration, you can color correct to create warm footage. If your film is sad or melodramatic you can color correct to blue hues. It’s all about communicating your message to the audience and color correction is just one more tool you can use to do just that!