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How To Achieve The Film Effect In Video With Color Correction

Joshua Lockhart 12-06-2012

color correction film lookThere are two terms that I hate when people talk about video 10 Of The Best Tesla Coils Music Videos On YouTube Nikola Tesla is rightly regarded as one of the greatest scientific minds of all time. His pioneering work as an engineer, especially in the field of electricity and electromagnetism, mean his name is synonymous with... Read More “cinematic” 5 Post-Apocalyptic Short Films on YouTube You Have to Watch As I've discussed before, there seems to be a something about fictional post-apocalyptic worlds that draw modern viewers in. Perhaps it's the notion of a world with limited technology. Maybe it's the idea of actual... Read More and “film look”. Personally, I think it’s such a variable term, and in a way, it’s seasonal. What was the “film look” yesterday will not be the “film look” tomorrow. (But for some reason, it will always be 24 frames per second.)


However, there’s a current trend today with video in which shadows tend to have deep blue look and highlights have a warmer, yellowish-red hue added. For those of you who are video hobbyists with a decent editor this will be a piece of cake. Granted, this is not territory for the iMovie Better iPhone Video: Shoot, Process & Edit Video Like A Pro With These Apps [iPhone] Shooting a film on an iPhone might not seem like the smartest idea, but for many it’s a viable option for capturing decent HD quality video on the move. Monday’s Stuff to Watch featured a... Read More or Windows Movie Maker How To Watermark Your Videos In Windows Movie Maker If you want to protect your work, make it more distinguishable, and add a professional touch, you should consider adding your watermark. Read More enthusiast. Below, we’re going to give you an idea of how to make all this work.

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Now, I’ll be first to admit that in order to properly color grade (with matching hues and the whole nine yards), you wouldn’t be coming here. You would be writing your own color grading blog while sitting in your mansion sipping wine with your super model wife on your right and your greyhound named Alexander on your left.

Colorists are probably some of the highest paid video professionals out there, and the science behind it all is super involved. Really, this is a quick and easy way to make your friends and family go “Oooh!” and “Ahhh!” and “When did Instagram do video?!”

color correction film look

The Real How-To

What you’ll need for this quick edit is properly color corrected footage and some version of a Three-Way Color Corrector (I use Adobe Premiere’s). Keep in mind that while shooting, it is best to use a flat picture style if you plan on color grading later. Here on MakeUseOf, we already have a few articles on color grading Start Editing Film With These 5 Video Color Grading Tutorials Even during the days of black and white film, auteurs would do their best to hand-color each frame with beautiful tints that transformed their movies into rainbow-filled reels. However, as time went on, color itself... Read More and even the Technicolor CineStyle How To Make Use Of The Canon Camera CineStyle Setting Have you ever wanted to have those fancy picture styles from westerns and action movies for your own videos, made with a Canon DSLR? Have you actually tried to pull it off time and time... Read More mode for Canon DSLRs.


After laying a clip down on the timeline, go ahead and apply the effect to your footage. In the effect editor, it should look a little something like the image below.

color correction film

Above, you’ll see that the colors are separated into three parts. The left color wheel is for shadows, the middle color wheel is for midtones, and the right color wheel is for highlights. Right now, for shadows, you should drag the center circle (or what have you) to the blues and for highlights, you should drag it to the yellows.

As for the midtones, I would leave it to your discretion based on what you believe is more visually appealing in the final footage. At this point, your color corrector should look a little bit like what we have below.


color correction film

This was… surprisingly simple. After this, you should play around a little to see what suits your taste. Ultimately, this helped me make the before and after shots of the footage screencaps that you’ll see below.


color correction film



color correction film look

It’s a small change, but it adds almost a nostalgic feel to the video. Granted, the lighting conditions for the area we were shooting at were perfect for this style.

Some Tips

Personally, I think this color style works best with unnatural lighting (particularly reds and blues) with mostly dim spots mixed in. My reasoning for dims is that I really like how the blacks are turned to blues, so aesthetically, I prefer adding them in quite a bit. Basically, I would do it at concert-style settings where artsy shots are a must.


Furthermore, I’ve struggled with using the style in woody areas during the day. My best guess for this is that there is often a lot of green when in the forest, so with some tweaking (perhaps using a Curves tool) you may be able to knock down the greens a little.

Beyond this, while shooting, I want to reiterate how important it is to record your footage in a flat picture style. Also, shallow depth of field makes all this look really nifty.


So to the video hobbyist, I bring you another trick to stuff up your sleeve. It’s a little easier than most, so I would love to see what you can do with it.

What other color styles do you like? Do you have any videos to share with us here at MakeUseOf?

Related topics: Filmmaking, Online Video.

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  1. Jo_S
    June 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Or you can use instagram filters lol

  2. David Torcivia
    June 12, 2012 at 1:54 am

    As a colorist, this is mostly terrible advice. If you're really interested in the basics of coloring, Alexis van Hurkman has a fantastic book entitled The Color Correction Handbook.