Last updated on 3 July 2023
Color grading is a critical aspect of video production, enabling you to enhance the visual quality of your footage and evoke specific emotional responses from your audience. Adobe Premiere Pro offers a plethora of color grading tools that can help you achieve a professional look for your footage.
This article will guide you through the learning process of how to color grade in Premiere Pro, focusing on the Lumetri Color tools.
Best LUTs Bundle – Natural & Creative LUTs
A bundle of both natural & creative LUTs for use in color grading in Premiere Pro.
Understanding color grading in Premiere Pro
Lumetri Color panel
The Lumetri Color panel in Premiere Pro is your primary workspace for color grading. It offers a range of features that allow you to alter the color and light in your video clips. Here are the key features you need to familiarize yourself with:
The Basic Correction feature in Adobe Premiere Pro’s Lumetri Color panel is your first step in the color grading process. It provides a range of controls that allow you to adjust the overall color and light of your video clip. Here’s a deeper look into what you can do with Basic Correction:
White balance is a critical setting that affects the color temperature of your video. It’s designed to account for the color of the light source, ensuring that white objects in your scene appear white in the video. In the Basic Correction panel, you can adjust the white balance using the ‘Temperature‘ and ‘Tint‘ sliders.
‘Temperature‘ adjusts the color balance between blue and yellow. Moving the slider to the left introduces more blue (cooler) into your image while moving it to the right introduces more yellow (warmer).
‘Tint‘ adjusts the balance between green and magenta. Moving the slider to the left adds more green while moving it to the right adds more magenta.
The light controls allow you to adjust the lightness and darkness of your video. You have five sliders at your disposal:
- ‘Exposure‘ adjusts the overall brightness of your image.
- ‘Contrast‘ controls the difference between the light and dark areas of your image. Increasing contrast makes the lights lighter and the darks darker.
- ‘Highlights‘ allows you to adjust the lightest parts of your image without affecting the shadows.
- ‘Shadows‘ lets you adjust the darkest parts of your image without affecting the highlights.
- ‘Whites‘ and ‘Blacks‘ control the absolute lightest and darkest points in your image, respectively.
The ‘Saturation‘ slider controls the intensity of the colors in your video. Moving the slider to the right increases saturation, making the colors more vibrant. Moving it to the left decreases saturation, making the colors more muted. If you decrease saturation all the way, your video will become grayscale.
Look-Up Tables (LUTs) are a powerful tool for color grading. They are pre-made color correction settings that can instantly change the look of your video. You can download LUTs from various sources, such as Bouncecolor, and import them into Premiere Pro.
To import a LUT, go to the ‘Input LUT‘ dropdown in the Basic Correction panel and select ‘Browse‘. Then, navigate to the location of your downloaded LUT, select it, and click ‘Open‘. The LUT will be applied to your video clip, and you can adjust its intensity using the ‘Intensity‘ slider.
LUTs are a great way to quickly fix basic issues like skin tones or to apply a specific look to your video. However, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution. You’ll often need to make additional adjustments using the other Basic Correction controls to achieve the best results.
The Creative section in Adobe Premiere Pro’s Lumetri Color panel provides a set of tools that allow you to give your video a unique aesthetic. It’s where you can apply creative color adjustments to enhance the mood and tone of your footage.
Here’s a more detailed look at what you can do with the Creative tools:
The ‘Look‘ dropdown menu allows you to apply a creative Look-Up Table (LUT) to your video. These creative LUTs are designed to transform the colors in your video to achieve a specific aesthetic. For example, you might use a Look to give your video a vintage film appearance or a futuristic, high-contrast look.
Adobe Premiere Pro comes with a selection of built-in Looks that you can choose from. Alternatively, you can import your own custom LUTs. To do this, select ‘Browse‘ from the ‘Look‘ dropdown menu, then navigate to the location of your LUT file.
The Adjustments controls allow you to fine-tune the appearance of your video after applying a Look. Here’s what each control does:
- ‘Faded Film‘: This slider adds a wash-out effect to your video, making it look like old, faded film. Increasing the value will make the effect more pronounced.
- ‘Sharpen‘: This slider enhances the detail in your video by increasing contrast along the edges. Be careful not to overdo it, as too much sharpening can make your video look unnatural.
- ‘Vibrance‘: This slider increases the intensity of the more muted colors in your video without oversaturating the already vibrant colors. It’s a more subtle effect than the ‘Saturation’ slider in the Basic Correction section.
- ‘Saturation‘: This slider works the same as the one in the Basic Correction section. It increases or decreases the intensity of all colors in your video.
The Shadow Tint and Highlight Tint controls allow you to apply a color tint to the shadows (dark areas) and highlights (light areas) of your video, respectively.
To use these controls, first, click on the color wheel next to ‘Shadow Tint‘ or ‘Highlight Tint‘. Then, click and drag within the color wheel to select a color. The ‘Tint Balance‘ slider adjusts the balance between the shadow and highlight tints.
These tools can be used to create a variety of creative color effects. For example, you might tint the shadows blue and the highlights orange to create a ‘teal and orange‘ look, which is popular in many Hollywood films.
Curves are great for making detailed edits and getting your video clip to look just the way you want. The bottom-left of the graph is where you will adjust for shadows, the middle for mid-tones, and the top-right for highlights.
Color Wheels & Match
Here you can change the hue of shadows, mid-tones, and highlights, as well as the intensity of these hues. You can also use the color match to match these settings to other clips in your timeline.
This feature allows for the correction of a specific color instead of the image overall. You can select a color using the eyedropper tool or choose a color channel, then adjust for hue, saturation, and lightness using the sliders.
A vignette is a visual effect that darkens the corners and edges of your video to draw the viewer’s attention to the center. It’s a popular technique in photography and film that can add a touch of style and focus to your footage.
In Adobe Premiere Pro’s Lumetri Color panel, you can easily add a vignette to your video and customize its appearance.
Here’s a closer look at the Vignette controls:
The ‘Amount‘ slider controls the intensity of the vignette. By sliding to the left, you darken the corners and edges of your video, creating a more pronounced vignette. Sliding to the right lightens the corners and edges, which can be used to counteract a vignette that’s already present in your footage.
The ‘Midpoint‘ slider controls how far the vignette extends towards the center of your video. A lower value makes the vignette cover more of the video, while a higher value restricts the vignette to the very edges.
The ‘Roundness‘ slider changes the shape of the vignette. A higher value makes the vignette more circular, while a lower value makes it more rectangular. This allows you to match the vignette to the shape of your video frame or to create unique effects.
The ‘Feather‘ slider adjusts the softness of the vignette’s edges. A higher value makes the transition from the vignette to the center of the video smoother and more gradual, while a lower value makes the transition more abrupt.
It’s important to use vignettes sparingly and thoughtfully. While they can enhance your footage by drawing attention to the subject in the center, overuse can make your video look stylized or dated. Always adjust the vignette settings to suit the content and mood of your video.
Using the Lumetri Scopes
Another color grading tool you’ll want to learn how to use in Adobe Premiere is the Lumetri scopes. These are waveform graphs that show you the exact levels of lightness in your video clips. The main ones are Parade and Vectorscope.
The Parade scope allows you to see your red, green, and blue waveforms within your video image right beside each other so that you can easily compare them. The Vectorscope shows you which parts of the color wheel your selected video image falls on.
The Lumetri Scopes in Adobe Premiere Pro provide a graphical representation of the color and light information within your video. They are essential tools for color grading, as they allow you to accurately monitor and adjust the color and brightness levels in your footage.
Here’s a deeper dive into the two main Lumetri Scopes: the Parade and the Vectorscope.
The Parade scope displays the red, green, and blue color channels of your video as separate waveforms, stacked horizontally. Each waveform represents the distribution of brightness levels for its respective color channel, from shadows (at the bottom) to highlights (at the top).
By comparing the waveforms, you can see if the color balance in your video is off. For example, if the red waveform is consistently higher than the green and blue waveforms, your video may have a red cast that you need to correct.
The Parade scope can also help you adjust the contrast and exposure of your video. If the waveforms are bunched up towards the bottom, your video may be underexposed. If they’re bunched up towards the top, they may be overexposed. If there’s little separation between the shadows and highlights, your video may lack contrast.
The Vectorscope displays the hue and saturation of the colors in your video. It’s a circular graph that represents the color wheel, with the primary and secondary colors marked around the edge.
The direction of the plot in the Vectorscope shows the hue of the colors in your video. For example, a plot towards the ‘R‘ marker indicates a predominance of red hues.
The distance from the center of the Vectorscope shows the saturation of the colors. Colors near the center are less saturated, while colors near the edge are more saturated.
The Vectorscope can help you ensure that your colors are accurate and consistent. For example, you can use it to correct skin tones, as they should fall along the ‘skin tone line’ between the ‘R‘ and ‘Y‘ markers.
Remember, the Lumetri Scopes are tools to guide your color grading decisions. They provide objective data about the colors and light in your video, but the final judgment should always be based on how the video looks to your eyes and how it fits your creative vision.
Importing and Using LUTs
LUTs are an easy way to give your project an overall, basic color correction or adjustment without messing with the Lumetri Color settings yourself. To use LUTs, you’ll first want to find some to download online.
Once you have LUTs downloaded, you can apply them to your clip via “Lumetri Color” > “Basic Correction” > “Input LUT” > “Browse“.
You can use some free sample LUTs from Bouncecolor.com here.
When to Color Grade in Premiere Pro
Color grading is an essential part of the post-production process, but it’s important to understand when in your workflow it should be done. Here’s a deeper look into why color grading should be one of the final steps in your editing process.
After Basic Editing
Before you start color grading, you should have your footage edited in terms of content. This means that all your clips are in the right order, any unwanted parts have been cut out, and any necessary transitions, titles, or effects have been added.
The reason for this is simple: color grading is a detailed and time-consuming process. If you color grade your footage before finalizing the edit, you might end up wasting time grading clips that won’t make it into the final video. Moreover, changes to the edit—such as shortening a clip or changing a transition—can affect how the color grading looks.
After Picture Lock
In professional workflows, color grading in Premiere Pro is typically done after ‘picture lock‘. Picture lock is the stage in the editing process where the edit is finalized and no more changes to the timing, order, or content of the clips will be made.
Once the picture lock is achieved, the project can be handed off to the colorist (or you can start color grading if you’re doing it yourself).
Before Final Export
Color grading should be completed before you export the final version of your video. The color grade can significantly affect the mood and visual appeal of your video, so you’ll want to see exactly how the final product will look.
After color grading in Premiere Pro, it’s a good idea to watch your video all the way through to check for any issues. Look for things like color inconsistencies between shots, overly dark or bright areas, and skin tones that look unnatural.
While color grading is typically done towards the end of the post-production process, it’s important to note that it’s not a one-and-done task. As you grade your footage, you might find that you need to go back and make adjustments to earlier clips to ensure a consistent look throughout your video. This iterative process is a normal part of color grading and is key to achieving a professional result.
In conclusion, while the exact timing can vary depending on your specific workflow and project needs, color grading is generally best left until the final stages of post-production.
This ensures that you’re working with the final edit of your footage and allows you to focus on enhancing the visual quality of your video without worrying about potential changes to the edit.
Color grading in Premiere Pro can significantly enhance the visual appeal of your video projects. Whether you just need some basic correction or want to give your video a creative makeover, the tools outlined above will help you achieve it.
Remember, color grading is as much an art as it is a science. It requires practice and a keen eye for detail. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and techniques until you achieve the look you desire. Happy color grading!