frequently asked questions
Will my video lose quality if you grade it from a rendered file instead of relinking to the original footage (with an XML)? That depends. If the video was (partly) shot in RAW, there will be quality loss and quite possibly very wrong color information being sent to the colorist. In this case, an XML workflow is the way to go. RAW workflows also benefit from XML relinking when the delivery will be for different screens (like TV and cinema). If the video was shot on any kind of compressed log format (like S-log, Canon log, ARRI log, Blackmagic log etc) or full blown rec.709, there is usually no real benefit when relinking to the original footage. In most cases, relinking compressed video with an XML is time consuming and can be costly, which makes it a poor choice. However, the file being generated for color grading needs to have the proper settings. Check our dedicated page with more information by clicking on "More" on the upper right corner of this page.
I've sent you a high quality 10-bit file. Why are you saying it's still 8-bit or low quality? If you lowered the quality of the files (ie.: by making proxies) on Premiere Pro or AVID to make editing smoother, the video gets compressed and/or the color information is brought down to 8 bits. If you then export a 10-bit file for grading, the software will still use the 8-bit source files. This means you may deliver us a 10-bit file, but the images contained within this file are still 8-bit. It is very hard to notice that a video is 8-bit when looking at ungraded footage. The ugly artefacts only show up once the colorist starts pushing the colors. At Color Space we usually refuse source material that is 8-bit (or 10-bit that looks like 8-bit), unless the actual camera files were originally recorded in 8-bit. In that case there's nothing to be done and the grading possibilities will be limited.
I edited on Premiere Pro and I'm sure I'm not using proxies or low quality media. Why is it still looking like 8-bit? On Premiere Pro, even if you choose to export to a 10-bit codec, you still need to tell the software to process the video in 10-bit during the export. You can do that by checking the boxes "Use Maximum Render Quality", "Maximum Bit-Depth" and selecting the maximum bit-depth from the dropdown menu. Choose the option WITHOUT Alpha Channel if applicable.
Can you send me a render of the "work in progress" so I can give you feedback from home? Of course! However, we strongly advise against it. At Color Space you can see your video with top of the line professional equipment, like professionally calibrated screens which display the colors with full accuracy. The viewing environment also plays a major role in how you see the colors. Our grading suite has professional lights and even the walls are just the right color to ensure nothing gets in the way of the viewing experience. 99 out 100 times a client gives feedback after watching a video at home, the "problem" was caused by their own computer or TV screen. For this reason, we usually only accept feedback from a distance from clients who have professional, calibrated screens.
My video is going to be shown on TV and in a movie theater. Does that make a difference? Yes. Movie theaters have much darker screens -but they're also a much darker room. Our perception of color/brightness/contrast in a movie theater is different from a living room -which is different from an office environment. Long story short: a video needs to be graded slightly differently for different screens and environments. Ideally, a video should also be slightly adjusted when played on TV vs. phones/computers. Technically, the colors will be different then, but the viewer will perceive them as the same when watching in the proper environment.
Do I need a calibrated screen to enjoy a graded video? Even when watched on an "uncalibrated" screen, a properly graded video still looks amazing -as long as the screen is not completely wrong. A screen doesn't need to be fully accurate for a great viewing experience, just "close enough". Most of the "look and feel" created when color grading still gets communicated to the viewer very effectively. Of course, the quality of the screen itself plays a major role. You're going to enjoy watching an OLED TV a lot more than a cheap LCD TV. Just imagine how much better music sounds on big speakers compared to a AAA battery radio. But when played on big speakers, the quality needs to be there. It's the same logic. Calibration is intended for directors and colorists who need to trust what they're seeing during the grading process. Getting the colors absolutely right in your Master File is the goal.
How accurate is the screen of my Macbook/iPhone/iPad/TV/computer? A screen is only as good as its calibration. Even very expensive, professional screens are not reliable if not calibrated every 1 or 2 years. Two identical iPhones can show very different colors and screens with different technologies (LED, OLED, LCD etc) also have different pros and cons. So there's no real answer to this question. Your device could be very accurate or completely wrong. The only way to check that, would be to calibrate it or to compare it to a calibrated screen like the ones from Color Space.
Why should I grade a video if all screens are different? All colors that a screen can display correspond to a real world color (the colors you see with your naked eyes when looking around you). When grading with professional equipment, you ensure that the colors your video is sending to the screen correspond to colors in the real world (even if the creative look is not realistic). We can draw a parallel with mixing a song: the recording studios mix songs using excellent speakers, in acoustically correct rooms. They ensure the music sounds great. It's up to the listener to decide if they will use cheap ear plugs or a full blown sound system.
Can you make my video look like [Big Hollywood Film]? In order for a certain look to be achieved, the creation of said look has to start in pre-production. Wardrobe, art design, set dressing, make-up, concept art -all of this plays a huge role in the image that will later be graded. Later on, while on set, lighting, lenses and weather all affect the image as well. When making a big film, directors and DP's are well aware of this and they work hard to shoot something which is already "pre-cooked" for the look they eventually want to create in grading. In a way, they set all the domino pieces in place and the colorist is the one who hits the first one. If your footage was created with the final look in mind, the colorist will have a much easier time making it look like you want. If it's too far off from what is necessary in order to achieve a certain look, it can be downright impossible to get it there. You don't need a Hollywood budget to achieve a good looking video though. Some attention to detail and planning can do wonders. For example, if your goal is to reach a warm, summer vibe, consider that when choosing clothes for the actors and even the color of the walls. Choosing a location where everything is gray/white or blue and dressing people in black, blue or purple will not help you get there. Having a colorist involved in the early stages of pre-production can give you a lot of insight -and we're always happy to give our 2 cents.
Is the video too dark? Probably not. Calibrated screens are usually 3 to 5 times darker than most consumer screens. Which means that, if you can see the image on a calibrated screen, it'll probably be even brighter when the viewer is watching it. If a scene should be very dark artistically, you can safely do that in the grading suite. It will probably still look quite bright when it reaches the final viewer. However, common sense plays a role here too. When grading, we work with high quality files and an uncompressed video signal. Once the viewer gets to see it, the video will be heavily compressed -which isn't always a good idea for dark scenes. So think about what is going to happen to your video once compression is applied!
What's the difference between video noise and film grain? Video noise is generated by the camera sensor when there's not enough light hitting it. Instead of recording light information, it will record the electrical noise going through it. Once graded, this noise gets amplified and looks very ugly. Video noise should be avoided at all costs. While there are tools to remove it in post, it often comes at a cost in sharpness, motion or even color accuracy. Film grain occurs organically on film stock (like 8mm, 16mm or 35mm film). It looks more pleasing and gives the image a look we are more used to seeing when going to the cinema. Digital cameras naturally don't have film grain. Adding it (or not) in post is an artistic decision.
The information above is a general take on the subject and does not replace actual advice from a professional for your project's specific needs. Contact us for specific advice.