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7 tips for color grading with Lumetri

One of the great things about Premiere Pro is its built in Lumetri Color grading tools. Here are some tips to take your grading to the next level.

Introduction

Back in 2015 Adobe added Lumetri into Premiere Pro and it marked the beginning of getting industry standard color grading tools into the hands of every day editors. In my early days as a visualizer I would only make use of Photoshop to grade my images, but as I’ve grown as an artist I’ve adopted other tools like Lightroom for images and Lumetri in Premiere Pro for editing and grading rendered footage. According to Adobe “The Color workspace is designed not just for experienced colorists but also for editors who are new to color grading” and I would totally agree with that. So if you’re new to it or experienced in another tool then hopefully you’ll find some helpful tips here.

1.  Use scopes to analyze your footage

One of the best tips I can give you is to not just rely on your eyes when color grading. We don’t all have great interpretation of colors so it would be a shame for color grading to therefore be limited to only a select few people that are able and talented at grading images and video. A large part of the grading process is thankfully a mathematical task so it can be learned even if you don’t have the natural flare of being able to interpret an image and grade it accordingly.

Lumetri provides a good range of ‘Scopes’ which display different analyses of luma and chroma as waveforms based on your clip and the adjustments you’ve made to it. By knowing what these waveforms should look like you can correct your footage and even do a little grading too.

Analyze your footage and see how it needs correcting with the built in scopes © Paul Hatton

2.  Make use of input LUTs

LUTs are Look Up Tables. They’re essentially a list of input and output color values. They apply an initial color grade to your image and can provide excellent results when you get the right LUT. If you’ve shot some footage with a set camera then getting a LUT that relates to that camera is sensible. But even if your footage is rendered you can make use of LUTS to get a really nice grade on your footage all the same. Make sure you color correct your footage first though so that the LUT has some good data to work with. Premiere Pro provides several preset LUTs that you can apply to your footage, or you can select a custom LUT that you saved.

Get off to a great start on your grade with input LUTs © Paul Hatton

3.  Adjust your white balance like a pro

Getting your white balance is essential for making a good looking image. Depending on how your footage was rendered or shot you might have a white balance that you want to change. Lumetri provides two tools that allow you to improve the ambient color of your video. The first is the ‘Temperature’ and the second is ‘Tint’. The temperature slider lets you make the overall image either cooler or warmer and the tint slider compensates for any green or magenta tint that you have in your image.

Get your white balance correct using the temperature and tint sliders © Paul Hatton

4.  Know how your grade is processed

Premiere Pro processes effects in your stack from top to bottom. So any effects, including more Lumetri Color effects, will be processed first before going onto sampling the color in your image. It’s therefore important to note that if these previous effects change the color of your image then it is the changed color that gets sampled. The seconds that are contained within your Lumetri panel are also processed from top to bottom. This means that the ‘Basic’, ‘Creative’ and ‘RGB curves’ get processed before the ‘Hue Saturations Curves’.

Knowing the way that your effects are processed is key to maintaining control of your grade © Paul Hatton

5.  Color match shots

One of the most common tasks when color grading is to match two different shots. This is important when you want to match the color and light of two different shots. You may also want to match some of your footage to an example clip that you’ve downloaded, if you like the grade of that for example. You can do this easily inside the Lumetri Color Panel. You’ll first want to enable the ‘Comparison’ view in the Program Monitor though. That way you can see the two clips side by side. Once you’ve done that simply click the “Color Wheels & Match” tab and select another frame as a reference. Finally click “Apply Match.”

Match two different shots to ensure that your grade looks consistent throughout your video © Paul Hatton

6.  Make use of multiple Lumetri color effects

There are times when you want to stack up multiple Lumetri effects. This is useful if you can’t complete the entirety of your grade within one effect or if you have a base color correction that you just want to copy across clips. The latter is probably what I most often use it for. Applying color corrections to a series of clips can be a bit tedious, so being able to copy a base correction can save a lot of time. You could even place this base Lumetri correction onto an adjustment layer that is placed on a higher layer on your timeline. When using multiple effects in this way you can either create a new Lumetri effect or copy an existing one.

Stack multiple color effects for increased control and flexibility over your grade © Paul Hatton

7.  Export Looks, LUTs, and save presets

Once you’ve finished with your color corrections and grading you might want to save all of that color information in an external file so that you can use it either in another application or for importing into Premiere Pro on another project. You can carry out this export to either a LUT file or a Look file.

Saving your grading out to a preset will save you time for future grades © Paul Hatton

Get experimenting

Hopefully there are some helpful tips in there to help you take your color grading to the next level. As with most things there are a variety of different ways of doing things. Experimenting with the software is by far the best way to get familiar with it and to feel like you’re in control of the tools.

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