Colour Grading in Premiere Pro CC
Colour Grading in Premiere Pro CC

Basic Colour Grading in Premiere Pro CC

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Welcome back to the fourth instalment of our Premiere Pro CC series where we’ll be taking a look at colour grading in Premiere Pro CC.

Previously, we’ve looked at

Once your footage has been cut and edited on the timeline, it’s time to start polishing it.

Firstly, you will have already added some transitions. Now, it’s time for colour grading. This is a hugely important step of the post-production phase in Premiere Pro CC and something you can’t afford to get wrong.

Why is Colour Grading So Important?

Have you ever watched a film with a scene from the Arctic and for some reason you can’t help but feel cold?

Alongside all of the other factors that go into that scene, take note of how blue it looks. This is completely intentional. For example, look at the film Arctic (2018).

Arctic screenshot blue colour palette

Similarly, if you’re watching a scene that’s perhaps a character’s happy flashback or forward to the memory of a sunny day, it will be warm and golden. The classic ‘wheat field scene’ in Gladiator (2000) is a good example of this.

Gladiator screenshot golden colour palette

Colour grading and the films colour palette plays an incredibly important part in how your audience feels throughout a film. As we mentioned in our previous article covering best software for colour grading:

 A colour grade has the ability to completely transform the mood and tone of a film, subtly (or sometimes not so subtle) conveying key messages to your audience and, as a result, determining how they interpret it.

The Basics of Colour Grading in Premiere Pro CC

So, let’s get you started on the basics of colour grading in Premiere Pro.

Firstly, you’ll want to switch from the editing tab at the top to colour.

Colour grading workspace

This will centre your program monitor and enlarge it so you can really see what you’re editing.

Additionally, to your right, you’ll find Adobe’s Lumetri Colour panel.

Adobe Lumetri Colour panel

Interestingly, if you’re familiar with other Adobe programmes (particularly Lightroom and Photoshop), colour grading in Premiere Pro may actually be really easy for you. The tools are very similar and largely do the same things.

Adobe Lumetri Color settings

Matching Footage

Looking at your footage, there’s a few things you may have noticed.

For example, if you have been filming with auto-white balance on your camera, some shots are perhaps a little warmer or cooler than others.

Furthermore, if you’ve matched footage from two different cameras, there are bound to be differences between the two.

Using these sliders you want to try and match the footage so that it all looks the same.

Firstly, it’s a great idea to enable comparison view so that you can see both the clip you’re editing and the clip that you want it to match to.

To do this, select Colour Wheels & Match in the drop down options and then, click comparison view. You’ll now have the clips side by side in the program monitor.

To match, have a look at the drop down options. In the Colour Wheels & Match panel for example, you have three colour wheels. There’s one for highlights, mid-tones and shadows.

By dragging the centre point of each one, you can change the tones of the clip. For example, we can make our shadows very blue and our highlights quite orange.

Have a play around and see what works best.

Add Adjustment Layer

With your footage matching, it’s then time to add the colour grade. Rather than editing the clips on the timeline themselves, we’ve found it’s best to add an adjustment layer. You should treat this adjustment layer as a filter that you lay over your footage.

As a result, if something goes wrong with the colour grading or you need to start again, all you have to do is delete or undo that single adjustment layer.

Trust us, it’s a lot better than going through each individual clip! 👍

So, to do this, simply switch back to the editing tab and click the new item icon in the project panel, select adjustment layer.

Subsequently, you can then click and drag this over the top of your footage on the timeline.

Now, go to view, display mode and select composite video. This will set your program monitor back to seeing just one clip at a time, depending on when your playhead is on the timeline.

Then, check out Curves.

Add Colour Grade

Once we’re happy that the clips match, this is usually where we like to start colour grading.

By dragging up the line towards the right, you can increase the highlights and by dragging it down on the left, you can increase shadows. This turns the straight line into an S shape – also known as the classic S-curve. It adds contrast and dynamic range to your footage.

Furthermore, at the top of the Lumetri Colour panel, you’ll find basic correction.

Here, you’ll see a number of sliders such as exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows.

Because we’ve already created the S-curve we don’t really need to touch the sliders for contrast, highlight and shadows etc.

However, the temperature and exposure sliders and prove rather useful when it comes to matching footage and perhaps adding warmth or cold to a film.

Lastly, take a look at Creative. Here you can input a LUT.

Basically, this will do all the hard work of the grade for you. Some see it as lazy, others find it’s the best way. It’s really up to you.

Simply click the dropdown bar next to Look and select browse. You can then find the LUT you want and apply it.

Below that, you can change the intensity of the LUT. If you find the darks and shadows are far too crushed but you like the temperature, just ease the slider down a bit.

Wrapping Up – Colour Grading in Premiere Pro CC

In summary, that’s the basics of colour grading in Premiere Pro CC!

Not quite as bad as you thought, right? It can all seem a little daunting at first but actually, the Lumetri Colour Panel is really intuitive.

We recommend playing around with everything and seeing what you like. Each video editor has a different style and taste.

Checkout out our next article, where we’ll be covering exporting in Premiere Pro CC.

Josh Edwards
Josh Edwards
Filmmaker. 25. I have a real passion for travel and documentaries

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