Best Colour Grading Software For Video Editors
Do you have a project which needs grading and you’re looking for the best colour grading software?
If you’re a video editor, you understand just how important colour grading is, right?
Alongside light, 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.
So, with that being said, you’re always going to be on the lookout for the best colour grading software. Therefore, we’ve analysed a few of your choices. The best colour grading software for video editors.
What we like:
- One-off payment
- Host of powerful features
- Used in Hollywood
- Capable of editing video (not just colour!)
Firstly, DaVinci Resolve 16. When looking for the best software for colour grading, you simply can’t look past this stellar option from Blackmagic Design.
Although capable of much more (see below), Resolve was originally created purely for high-end colour grading. That really shows.
For instance, some of our favourite features include the ‘nodes’ that you build like Lego blocks, layering together different clips with their effects. You can then make mass-changes to these clips if they share the same nodes.
Moreover, face-tracking (‘face-refinement’) is superb at locking on to people’s faces, allowing you to adjust eyes, smooth out complexions and lighten or darken them.
Likewise, this goes for ‘power windows’ where you can adjust specific regions of your frame.
In addition, the latest version offers enhanced, auto colour balance, noise reduction and matching tools, providing you with incredibly accurate results.
In other words, there is a lot of power to be wielded with this colour grading software. As previously mentioned, Resolve is also capable of editing video in general and people are starting to take note.
It almost seems a crime that so much is available for a one-off payment of just $300 (around £229).
What we like:
- Plugin – ready to go!
- Works seamlessly within Adobe suite
- ‘Guided colour correction’ for beginners
- LUT presets included
Second on our list of software for colour grading – Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Colorista IV. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?
Unlike DaVinci, this piece of software is a plugin, allowing you to directly grade your footage using whichever preferred video editing software.
Indeed, we’ve found it compliments the Adobe suite particularly well, integrating seamlessly.
There are a host of brilliant features including the fact it runs off your graphic card’s GPU, allowing the power to instantly see the changes you make.
There’s a host of LUT presets as well as the ability to bring in your own, not to mention support for LOG footage with built-in Look Up Tables and much, much more.
Everything you expect as a video editor is here, for just $199 (around £150). Not bad at all.
What we like:
- Save presets that you like for future grades
- Very similar to other Adobe software (traditional colour wheels, curves and sliders)
- Comes free as part of Premiere Pro (Adobe Cloud Subscription required)
As discussed in previous articles, we all know filmmaking can be expensive.
If you’re already paying for an Adobe subscription to get access to Premiere Pro and After Effects, you may not want to fork out an extra couple of hundred pounds for colour grading software.
“Why should I!”, I hear you shout…
DaVinci Resolve is incredible and Colorista is great but, Adobe Premiere Pro’s in-house colour grading software isn’t half bad either, you know.
It’s getting better every year and may just be the right option for you, depending on your skillset and level.
Known as the Lumetri Panel, along with the effects that we’ve all become accustomed to whilst using Premiere, in recent editions there are now the more traditional colour wheels, curves and sliders available, allowing you more control over every bit of your grade.
For those who use other Adobe applications such as Lightroom and Photoshop, these features will make you feel right at home.
Albeit slightly less powerful, Lumetri now offers you many of the same features as Colorista. A really solid option for those looking to withhold splashing the cash.
What we like:
- Familiar colour grading tools (curves, wheels, sliders)
- Comes free, built in to FCPX
- Everything can be done easily in one place
Lastly, if we’re going to look at Premiere Pro, we also have to look at the other mainstream alternative.
Similarly, Final Cut Pro X’s option, Color Board, is a really good piece of software that’s built in to your edit suite.
It comes with all of the tools you’d expect a good colour grading software to have.
- There are dynamic colour wheels for quickly addressing colour balance and exposure issues with your shots.
- Curves for shadows and highlights or HUE’s and SAT’s, helping you remove colour casts from shadows, tints from highlights. LUT support, colour matching.
It’s all here, ready to be tweaked.
Clearly, when on the search for the best colour grading software for video editors, a key factor you’re looking for is flexibility.
As a result, you want to be able to do it all, and do it all in one place. One can argue that you Final Cut Pro X now fits the bill.
The extras (Colour Correction)
Additionally, on top of the overall colour grading software, you may also find programmes such as FilmConvert Nitrate and NeatVideo. Colour grading software like this specialise in highly niche areas.
For example, with FilmConvert, it takes your digital video and adds a beautiful ‘film feel’ with grain and colour effects. It can also emulate various different film stocks.
Meanwhile, the grain-busting NeatVideo will smooth out your grainy, low-light footage. Almost like magic 👍
Of course, you could argue that you can do that with any of the above programmes.
You can, but these particular pieces of colour grading software are at the very top of their selected fields. Sometimes, your footage will be just too far gone for something like Lumetri Colour to fix and you need that specialist.
Clearly, it’s worth doing some research because you’d be surprised what’s out there. It’s often the small, individual programmes and plugins that can make a big difference.
They will cost extra – sometimes a lot – but they are always worth it 😉
Wrapping up – Best Colour Grading Software
So, there you have it. A selection of the best colour grading software for video editors.
In conclusion, if you’re just starting out and perhaps don’t have the biggest budget. Lumetri or Color Board will be your best bet (depending on which editing software you use).
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to upgrade and harness more power then, looking at something such as Colorista or DaVinci Resolve is the right option.Moreover, you will find an infinite amount of other resources and programmes (FilmConvert and NeatVideo).
As video editors, we’re privileged to live in an age of so much choice and freedom. We always suggest that before buying a product, you trial it for a week or two to see if it suits you and does what you need.