PART THREE - Colour Grading in Resolve – the Colour Tab – Tools and Displays
So, before we get to the absolute nitty gritty of what this thread is about - how we take the basic raw footage the drone captures and grade it to achieve a natural, realistic and faithful rendition of what we ourselves saw – we need to look at the tools and displays available to us and how they are used, including what they will do to the image. So today we will look at the 5th Tab on the Bottom Taskbar, the Colour Tab, and demystify what it looks like and what each bit does. You don’t need to know all of it nor use all of it to grade your footage, you can apply small corrections and keep the grading to a minimum just using one or two areas of the Colour Tab and still get great results.
So the 5th Tab on the bottom task Bar, the ‘Colour’ Tab, looks something like this…
Let’s look a bit closer at the screen and what it does… To simplify it we will divide the screen into 3 rows, starting at the top and to the left side we have the Gallery / LUTS and Media Pool tabs, with the Stills and Power Grade folders beneath. Then we have the Timeline window, showing the video at the point that the play head (red line with the upturned triangle on it).
Then to the top right we have the Fusion panel – Fusion is an amazing set of tools that allow you to add many more options, filters, effects and dynamic effects, but needs some proper research, training and practicing before attempting to use.
The middle band of the screen contains thumbnails of the clips used on the timeline and also the timeline bar, showing all the clips in relation to one another – whichever clip the video head is on is the one that will be highlighted in red and have the current frame shown in the Timeline window above. This allows you to select the clip you want to work on, to watch the footage and to move the play head along and around the timeline – something you need to do as the exposure for the video can change throughout the clip, especially if you are flying with your drone on Auto settings.
The bottom third is the tools menu’s that we are going to use to work on our footage, and again this is split into 3, the first third on the left hand side is the area that we will do most of our work in, the next 3rd has a number of features that allow us to make further changes, and the last third on the right gives us the Scopes graphs to see how out changes are affecting the output…
For me the bits I tend to use the most to change settings are the HDR Colour Wheels in the lower left hand area, then the Curves, Colour Warper and the Blur in the middle area, and the Scopes – Parade option on the right hand side. Lets have a look at the options so you know what each bit does, and then we can look at how to actually grade the footage.
Bottom Left third Tools – Primaries Colour Wheels
The Primaries Tab allows you to make quick changes to the whole image, across the top in the smaller boxes are Temp altering this will add or reduce the temperature, making the image feel warmer or colder. Next is the tint, which I don’t generally use, but could be used to compensate for artificial lighting hues or for adding a tint for an otherworldly feel to a piece. Next is contract, Pivot and Mid/Detail – will smooth the image, + will enhance detail…
The middle row has the actual colour wheels, Lift, Gamma, Gain and Offset. These can be moved individually and incrementally, by moving the central point, by holding your left mouse over an individual colour channel or by using the thumbwheel at the bottom to alter them all at the same time…
Lift will increase or decrease the exposure across the whole image. Gamma will work on the brighter parts of the image and boost or reduce their brightness, Gain works on another range of the image as does offset – the best way to understand these is to have a play with them for yourself and see what it does to the footage.
The lower smaller boxes are Colour Boost – which does as it says – Shadow and Hi Light which will allow you to adjust the brightness of these image area ranges, then Saturation, Hue and L Mix.
Generally I don’t do much on this Tab, but instead concentrate most of my effort on the next Tab, the HDR Colour Wheels.
Bottom Left Third Tools – HDR Colour Wheels
This is the part of the Colours Main tab that I use the most, it allows almost infinite adjustment to each band of brightness of the image – using the left and right arrows you can move from Black to Dark to Shadow to Light, then onto Highlight and Secular, or you can use the Global Wheel to alter all bands at the same time.
Each of the colour wheels allows you to change the exposure and the saturation using the 2 boxes beneath the wheel, and then the central graph of the wheel can be used to move the colour focus of the band and alter the colours – something I don’t generally do.
Beneath the Colour wheels are the smaller boxes that allow you to adjust the overall grades for temperature tint, hue, contrast, pivot, mid/detail and Black Offset, altering these will alter the grading on the whole image.
Bottom Middle Third Tools - Curves
If you come from a photographic background then you may be familiar with the curves tool, which allows you to select the combined or an individual colour channel and then to amend its distribution across the range, dragging the bar upwards at any point will increase the hue and intensity at that point, dragging it downwards will decrease it, fairly simple in principle, but very easy to overdo if you are not careful.
Bottom Middle Third Tools - Colour Warper
The colour warper gives an indication of where your colours are currently sat on the range of colours, and allows you to warp them as a whole in any direction. This will affect both the hue and saturation of the colours, and dragging the point outside of the current marked area will change the image massively.
Bottom Middle Third Tools - Blur/Sharpen tool
The Blur / Sharpen options allow you to enhance the sharpness or reduce it as you need. Generally I will reduce the blur from 50 to between 48 and 46 depending on which drone it was captured with and how the footage looks, The MINI3 Pro needs a little work here, but the AIR3 can come in as oversharp, so a little more blur works. Again, something to play with and see what it does for yourself.
Bottom Left Third Tools – Scopes
The bottom left tool box contains the Colour diagnostics display, which we can use to see the spread and intensity of colours. I tend to prefer the Parade view as it allows me to see the 3 Red, Green and Blue channels individually. As a rule of thumb, the more spread of the range, the better the image will look, this is only an indication though, so look to the main window and rewatch the footage there to check what is happening to the look of the image.
So, we now know where everything is, and can now look at how we grade our footage, which will be in the next gripping instalment!