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Workflow: Color Grading Clips From Many Sources

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johnny mabie
Workflow: Color Grading Clips From Many Sources
on Mar 17, 2016 at 1:37:00 am

I have a fairly unique "finishing" challenge that I'm hoping some Cow veterans can chime in on.

I'm a finishing editor at a social media news company. We make short recaps of breaking news, social stories, political happenings, etc. Any given project might have clips sourced from CNN, HBO, Getty, a feature film, a youtuber, and graphics, all stitched together in a 50-80 second narrative. Obviously, these sources range from heavily graded, professionally shot footage all the way down to untouched amateur clips. I've started to "reverse grade" clips in an attempt to establish a cohesive look for our brand, but am often challenged by the extreme dynamic range in the footage we use.

The biggest challenge
is our short deadlines, usually within an hour or two of me getting the project, so I am restricted to grading within Premiere pro, extremely fast. I am currently using Lumetri Color Panel for most of the correction / grade, with a curves here and a fast color corrector there.

My goal is to establish a workflow where I can:
1. Quickly push all clips to a relatively neutral center (think: log footage)
2. Apply a LUT overall, with a uniform result
3. Win a Webby

The problem I'm having is actually reaching that neutral starting point, consistently across projects.
- Do I have to settle for painstakingly manual "from scratch" correction?
- Are there any techniques to quickly push already-graded clips back towards a neutral center?
- Are there any best practices for re-grading already graded footage?

Here's my current workflow:
- Scrub through the sequence to correct any major contrast issues – usually pulling contrast way back (pushing for that log look)
- Push black / white points around to match
- Address temperature disparities – usually warm up news footy and cool down amateur footy, again trying to hit that neutral center
- Do a second contrast / black point pass
- If necessary, add RGB Curves or Fast Color Corrector if something still isn't sitting right
- Add an adjustment layer above all clips, apply LUT, add some grain

What do you think?
Any ideas on how to improve this process (or overhaul it entirely!) is much appreciated!

Much love to all Cow users!

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