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Color Correcting Order of Operations with Object Removal
  • Here's a question for the color grading champs on this site. I've got a few clips that have objects that need to be removed, so that will be done in Adobe After Effects or Speedgrade or Premiere (I'm on Adobe Creative Cloud). Should I remove them before or after color grading? The list below is the order of operations according to Shane Hurlbut, but I don't know where in this order I would best to remove the objects. Thanks for any advice you might have.

    1. Remove artifacts and de-noise.
    2. Balance your shots by adjusting BLACKS/MIDS/WHITES, SATURATION and WHITE BALANCE.
    3. Relight within a shot using power windows or masks.
    4. Add gradients, diffusion and other lens filters.
    5. Add vignettes
    6. Grade your images
    7. Simulate a film stock of your choice
    8. Resize and sharpen
  • 5 Replies sorted by
  • I'm not a color grading guru, but I'm sure that objects should be removed before color grading, especially before step 3 on that list. Some parts need to be cloned to remove objects, and after vignettes and power masks applied those areas might get some new colors or shadows, and become harder to seamlessly clone. Also noise and grain and every effect that distributes randomly might pose a problem later. Also, when you finish patching up your shots you want to give it one uniform look that will glue everything together.

  • if u do any grading before removal and what ever painting in you do, you will run the risk of not having matching black levels. And nothing gives away a composite and/or FX shot like mismatched blacks.

  • @shian @inqb8tr I figured we need to remove objects before grading, but wanted to hear from the experts before we proceed. Great advice - much appreciated. (Luckily it's just a few clips, so not a ton of work.) Thanks.

  • Yes, depending on the work being done, working with graded images or any kind of heavy "look" can make effects more difficult if you're starting with linear files. Effects generally want to be done with as neutral a starting point as possible and with as little processing as possible, because extra processing or modification creates compound image effects that need to be, quite often, replicated in digital elements or painting or any element being brought in and combined in some way with "plate" photography. This is the case if you're starting with typical DSLR footage or Prores/DNxHD. You want to do effects so that the modified shot with effects goes through the same grading and finishing as surrounding, non-FX photography.

    Working with raw digital files this gets a bit more complicated, like dealing with scanned film. The work needs to be done in a meaningful, linear working space so how you get from log to lin can effect the difficulty of applying effects and integrating or removing something as much as a baked in grade or look. This is one of the exciting things about the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) which, for the first time, gives effects folks a consistent way to deal with virtually any kind of plate photography, provided there is a suitable IDT.

    Switching to ACES made a world of difference working with the RED Epic footage I have on my plate now. The footage was unusable as-is, even with the filmmaker's "one light" meta attached to selects. Getting it to a decent representation of the scene's lighting would have meant doing my own grade in After Effects or Redcine-X, both of which do poor jobs of nominal log-to-lin, without doing an actual "grade". Even though RED's IDT seems to be universally regarded as "garbage" the ACES EXR exports from Redcine-X were spot-on exactly what I wanted to be working with instead of the R3D and delivering back to the client the footage will be effectively untouched as far as altering the look of his photography.

  • @BurnetRhoades Thanks for advice.