Do you have footage that needs grading and you’re looking for the best color grading software?
If you’re a video editor, you understand the importance of color grading. Similar to light, a color grade has the ability to change the mood and tone of a film whilst gently showing key messages to your audience.
So to help you decide we’ve reviewed a few of the most popular options out there. Here is some of the best color grading software for video editors.
1. DaVinci Resolve 17
|✔ One-off payment||✔ Range of powerful features|
|✔ Used in Hollywood||✔ Capable of editing video (not just colour!)|
Firstly, DaVinci Resolve 16. When looking for the best software for color grading, you simply can’t look past this great option from Blackmagic Design.
Although capable of much more, Resolve was originally created purely for high-end color grading. That really shows.
For instance, some of our favorite features include the ‘nodes’ that you build like Lego blocks, layering together different clips with their effects. This allows you to then make group changes to the clips in one go.
Another great feature is face-tracking which is superb for locking on to people’s faces, adjusting eyes and smoothing out complexions. Also, the latest version offers improved, auto color balance, noise reduction and matching tools, providing you with very accurate results.
2. Magic Bullet Colorista
|✔ Plugin – ready to go!||✔ Works seamlessly within Adobe suite|
|✔ Guided color correction for beginners||✔ LUT presets included|
Second on our list of software for color 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 you 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.
3. Color Finale 2
|✔ High-end color grading||✔ Quick and smooth functioning|
|✔ 3-way color wheels|
Color Finale is the most popular color grading plugin for Final Cut Pro X (FCPX). It was the first complete professional color grading plugin for FCPX. Before then it had pretty limited color tools.
Since then they’ve had two versions, the latest being Color Finale 2, and this March they celebrated the 5th Anniversary of the launch of the original plugin.
While other plugins on this list are intended to make color grading easier, Color Finale 2 brings more advanced features to your program. For example, it offers really useful automation tools, mask tracking, a color chart tool and much more.
|✔ Professional video editing tools||✔ Intuitive interface|
|✔ Wide range of built-in effects||✔ Affordable|
FilmConvert is a great color grading plugin that you can add directly to FCPX and Premiere Pro or use as a stand-alone app. It makes it super easy to adjust the colors in your footage to achieve a cinematic look.
The great thing about FilmConvert is that it helps to color grade really quickly and easily – even beginners will find it easy to work with.
Firstly, it manipulates color to copy a selection of popular film stocks based on the camera and color profile setting. Secondly, it works by applying a series of processes to the footage, tweaking color, grain and contrast.
As a result, it enables you to get the look, so if you want to mimic the filmic look and style of Fuji Vivid then you can!
It’s perfect for quick-turnaround grading jobs, especially for footage shot in LOG or RAW color modes that normally require a lot of correction in post.
|✔ Accessible from anywhere||✔ Fully cross-platform – Mac, Windows, Chrome or Linux|
|✔ Always up-to-date|
The film industry is changing. Turnarounds are quicker, remote sessions are the new norm and the need for new and fresh content is greater than ever.
fylm.ai is a truly revolutionary cloud-based color grading platform that allows you to collaborate with your team anywhere on the planet.
It’s run via your browser making it easier to share, collaborate and present, wherever you are. Everything is always up to date, there are no plugins required and there is nothing to install.
6. Adobe Premiere Pro (Lumetri Color)
|✔ Save presets that you like for future grades||✔ traditional color wheels, curves and sliders|
|✔ Comes free as part of Premiere Pro|
DaVinci Resolve is incredible and Colorista is great but, Adobe Premiere Pro’s in-house color 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 skills.
In recent editions there are now the more traditional color wheels, curves and sliders available, allowing you more control over every bit of your grade.
Also, 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 the extra cash for color grading software. Also, make sure you check out our tutorial on color grading in Premiere Pro.
7. Final Cut Pro X (Color Board)
|✔ Simple color grading tools (curves, wheels, sliders)||✔ Comes free, built into FCPX|
|✔ Everything can be done easily in one place|
Lastly, if we’re going to look at Premiere Pro, we have to look at FCPX’s built in grading tool called Color Board. It comes with all of the tools you’d expect a good color grading software to have.
There are dynamic color wheels for quickly addressing color balance and exposure issues with your shots. Also, there are more advanced tools like curves, LUT support and color matching. It’s all there ready to be tweaked.
Obviously, when looking for the best color grading software for video editors a key factor is the ease of use. As a result, you want to be able to do it all in one place which is where Color Board has the edge.
Wrapping up – Best Colour Grading Software
As video editors, we’re lucky to live in an age of so much choice with software. However, it can sometimes get a bit confusing. 😕
So 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. But if you’re looking to upgrade and harness more power then try Colorista or DaVinci Resolve.
Finally, if you want more instant automated features then definitely check out FilmConvert, FYLM.AI and Color Finale 2. We always suggest that before buying a product, you try it for a week or two to see if it suits you and does what you need. 😉
what editing /grading package would you recommend for a beginner (with limited budget)