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Why is it so grey?

Understanding raw footage and digital colour grading.

As video producers, one of the most common questions we get from clients after delivering early passes and first cuts is why is it so grey?

To those of us who work with raw video footage all the time, we understand the nuances of colour grading and why it tends to happen at the back end of the post-production workflow, but it can leave the uninitiated scrathcing their heads and questioning their choice of suppliers.

So, for every client that has ever asked why it's so grey - here's the answer.

When we shoot your film we record the footage in raw format. The primary reason that raw footage appears grey and desaturated is that it is unprocessed data straight from the camera's sensor. Additionally, the camera's color profile is typically set to a neutral setting, which aims to accurately capture the scene's color information without adding any bias or adjustment. This neutral profile results in a flatter, less colorful image that requires further processing in post-production. This gives us the most control so we can make the final product look exactly how we want it to. Think of it like a blank canvas - it's just there waiting for us to add all the color and life.

Color Grading

Color grading is the process of adjusting the color, brightness, and contrast of video footage to enhance its visual impact and meet creative goals. It involves adjusting the overall look of the footage and fine-tuning individual color channels to achieve a specific result. One of the most significant benefits of color grading is the ability to manipulate color information, adding depth, vibrancy, and saturation to flat, unprocessed raw footage, giving it a more polished, cinematic look. It can also enhance the mood of a scene, for example adding warmth to a sunny day or coolness to a night scene. This process allows a great deal more creative control and flexibility than if we captured fully saturated, high-contrast footage direct in camera.

Colour grading tools

Now, you might be wondering why the raw footage isn't color graded right away. The answer is simple - it's because color grading is typically done at the end of the production workflow. There are a few reasons for this. First, color grading can be a time-consuming process, so it's often best to wait until all the other post-production work is done before diving into it. Second, color grading is an important tool for creating a specific look or mood, so it's essential to have the final cut of the footage before making those adjustments. Finally, color grading is an iterative process, so it's helpful to have the entire edit completed before making final decisions about color.

So, when you look at your raw footage and it seems a little dull, don't worry. That's just the starting point. With color grading, we can make sure the final product looks exactly how you envisioned it. And if you have any specific ideas or visions in mind, just let us know and our team will use their technical skills to bring those colors to life in a way that makes your video pop!

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