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How to Imagine a Look and Evaluate Video for Colour Grading in DaVinci Resolve

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If you're a filmmaker and you’d like to know more about editing, particularly colour, then you’ll love our free course, How to Colour Grade Video. In this DaVinci Resolve tutorial, you will learn how to use colour grading to create feeling.

How to Imagine a Look and Evaluate Video for Colour Grading in DaVinci Resolve

Some of you will have a great understanding of the relationship between colour and feeling already, and some of you will want to give it a little more thought.

We see colour every day in the real world, on TV, and in the movies, but you may not have given it conscious thought. That's probably because whatever you were watching on TV and in movies was so well done that the colour grading blended into the background and the story; that's the really good stuff!

The colour grading of your footage has the power to create mood, to make you feel a particular way, and to nudge your attention to the things that are important to the narrative. For example, if you were to think of the words:

  • Warm
  • Happy
  • Fun
  • Uplifting
  • Adventure

How would that look in your mind? What would the sky and the sun look like? What about the clothes that people are wearing?

A warmly coloured stock image from Envato ElementsA warmly coloured stock image from Envato ElementsA warmly coloured stock image from Envato Elements
A warmly coloured stock image from Envato Elements

It might look something like this, right? In terms of colour and brightness and expression, it’s certainly warm, fun, and uplifting, and everything is bright and vivid.

Now think about these words:

  • Cold
  • Desolate
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Fear
A cold coloured image from Envato ElementsA cold coloured image from Envato ElementsA cold coloured image from Envato Elements
A cold coloured image from Envato Elements

This picture could be a man thinking or having a moment to himself, but the colouring fits our negative words. It’s cold, the colours are washed out and are all of similar toning, and even the clothes are dull and unremarkable in colour.

Colours really do matter. They can help to sell a feeling, and that’s really important for telling your story. Sometimes you might not quite know what you want from footage or how to colour it, and that’s okay. One thing that can really help is to put together some reference images and maybe create a mood board.

Mood Boards

A mood board is a collection of images, fabrics, colours, or even text to help you visualise and work out colour concepts for your project. When you start assembling your images, colours, textures, etc., you'll have a real idea of what works to support your feeling and what doesn't.

Then you can refine that in the image evaluation process and get an idea of the colour palette that you might want for your project. This might be for just one scene, or for the film as a whole sometimes. This colour palette is often referred to as creating a ‘look’ or a style, and sometimes this look can have a very natural feel to it, and at other times it can be highly stylised. It really depends on your project and what you're trying to do, and most importantly, the emotions and feelings you're trying to promote in your film

Mood Boards Collection

A mood board template from Envato ElementsA mood board template from Envato ElementsA mood board template from Envato Elements
A mood board template from Envato Elements

To get you started, here’s a mood template from Envato Elements. This can help you get started with putting together your ideas, and it’s free to use as part of a subscription.

Hopefully, now you’ll have a great idea of how colour can create and shape meaning in your film, and you can think about that before you come to colour grade your footage, shaping your narrative and story to elicit the feelings you want from your audience.

More Resources on Colour

About the Authors

David Bode created the video course that includes this lesson. Dave is an expert on video and audio production, and he lives in the upstate NY area. He works as a camera operator, editor, inventor, motion graphics designer, recording engineer, and studio musician.

Marie Gardiner wrote the text version of this DaVinci Resolve tutorial, and it was edited and published by Jackson Couse. Jackson is a photographer and the editor of the Photo & Video section of Envato Tuts+.

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