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Color Grading Tips For ‘Mixed Camera’ Projects

Noam Kroll

Using footage from different types of cameras can make color grading a challenge. Here are some tips to make the process easier.

One of the most difficult tasks for a colorist is matching shots from different formats. No matter how great your eye may be, there’s no denying that it takes a lot of work to get the color from a DSLR to match a RED DRAGON or a GoPro.

Every camera has its own color science and therefore responds to grading differently, which can pose a great challenge for colorists working on mixed format projects. Here are two tips that I’ve found helpful when working with mixed camera projects:

1. Focus on Contrast

color grading surface
Photo courtesy of Robbie Carman of Amigo Media

No matter what you do, and how many color keys you try to pull – there will be color differences from camera to camera. This means you’ll need to look for other ways (as opposed to just color balance) to tie images together. In my opinion, contrast is one of the best ways to do so.

By keeping your levels consistent throughout the piece (in this case we used slightly lifted shadows and punchy highlights), there’s a universal look that starts to let everything gel together.

2. Use the Right LUT

I like to add a film emulation LUT to everything I work on, and on projects like this, it’s especially important. Rather than choosing two separate LUTs for the narrative and doc footage, I opted to use the same LUT across both to help smooth out any minor inconsistencies in the source footage. In the end, the Fuji stock that I’d used definitely helped tie it all together, giving the piece a sense of uniformness.

Keep in mind, that even when employing these tips you’ll still need to do a lot of work to match your shots properly. Color keys, balancing, windows, and other techniques can and should be used to get the look you’re after… Just make sure to always find more than one way to tie it together.

Looking for additional color grading tips, tricks, and techniques? Take a look at these helpful articles from your friends at PremiumBeat:

Ever had to color grade from different camera sources? Tell us about your process in the comments below!