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How to Create Continuity of Feeling in Videos With Colour Grading in DaVinci Resolve

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If you're a filmmaker and you’d like to know more about how to use colour, then you’ll love our free course, How to Colour Grade Video. In this lesson you’ll see an example of how to use colour grading to create a continuity of feeling.

How to Create a Continuity of Feeling in Video With Colour Grading

Colour Grading: What Is It and Why Do We Need It for Videos?

Colour supports content; just because a shot is technically corrected doesn't mean that it will necessarily feel right for the scene or your production. In this lesson you’ll see an example of how to use colour grading to create a continuity of feeling.

Before Grading

example clip 1example clip 1example clip 1
Example clip 1 / David Bode
example clip 2 / David Bodeexample clip 2 / David Bodeexample clip 2 / David Bode
Example clip 2 / David Bode
example clip 3 / David Bodeexample clip 3 / David Bodeexample clip 3 / David Bode
Example clip 3 / David Bode

Let's imagine that the three stills from clips, above, are part of a longer video. They’re quite disparate but there’s a lot that can be done with colour grading to make the shots flow better and have a similar tonality so that they look part of the same story.

After Grading

Here’s the grade applied to the same clips, it’s been based on the purple tones in the second clip and now they all look a little more uniform.

example clip 1 after colour grading / David Bodeexample clip 1 after colour grading / David Bodeexample clip 1 after colour grading / David Bode
Clip 1 after colour grading / David Bode
example clip 2 after colour grading / David Bodeexample clip 2 after colour grading / David Bodeexample clip 2 after colour grading / David Bode
 Clip 2 after colour grading / David Bode
example clip 3 after colour grading / David Bodeexample clip 3 after colour grading / David Bodeexample clip 3 after colour grading / David Bode
Clip 3 after colour grading / David Bode

How The Colour Grade Was Created in DaVinci Resolve

In DaVinci Resolve you can do a lot of things in a single step but it's much easier to use multiple steps so that you can keep track of your ideas.

Nodes

Each one of the little boxes on the right is called a node and each of these has a separate colour grading 'idea' in it.

DaVinci Resolve - NodesDaVinci Resolve - NodesDaVinci Resolve - Nodes
DaVinci Resolve - Nodes / David Bode

Clip 1

After the base colour correction, which is numbered 01 on the nodes, a shape was created and then used to bring up the highlights and mid-tones a little.

Creating a shape to lighten an area / David BodeCreating a shape to lighten an area / David BodeCreating a shape to lighten an area / David Bode
Creating a shape to lighten an area / David Bode

You can see above the shape made targets the windscreen and when brightened, it brings out the characters a lot more. You can see the 05 node reflects these changes, on the right.

Darkening the outside of the shape, leaving the characters unaffected / David BodeDarkening the outside of the shape, leaving the characters unaffected / David BodeDarkening the outside of the shape, leaving the characters unaffected / David Bode
Darkening the outside of the shape, leaving the characters unaffected / David Bode

The next step is almost the opposite to the previous one. In node 04 the changes are showing as masking out the previous shape, so any alterations made exclude whatever’s inside it. Outside of the shape – the car frame, mostly – is darkened, so those mid-tones are pulled down and then are desaturated so that the focus of the saturation is back inside that shape, in the windscreen.

Desaturating distracting objects / David BodeDesaturating distracting objects / David BodeDesaturating distracting objects / David Bode
Desaturating distracting objects / David Bode

The red box and sticker in the car are quite distracting, so in node 02 you can see those bright colours being desaturated so they don’t attract your attention.

Creating a vignette / David BodeCreating a vignette / David BodeCreating a vignette / David Bode
Creating a vignette / David Bode

Next is to give the clip a bit of a vignette around it and that’s done with a shape layer as above. This essentially just affects the outside area, anything that’s grey isn’t included, so then it’s a case of pulling own the highlights, mid-tones and shadows.

Creating a vignette / David BodeCreating a vignette / David BodeCreating a vignette / David Bode
Creating a vignette / David Bode

You can see the difference here in the corners and there’s a nudge towards blue in the shadows to cool it off and give it some nice contrast against the skin tones of the people.

Cooling off the shadows / David BodeCooling off the shadows / David BodeCooling off the shadows / David Bode
Cooling off the shadows / David Bode

Lastly, all of the shadows (the Lift wheel) were pushed towards blue-purple and to compensate for that, the mid-tones (Gamma wheel) then are pushed a little towards orange.

In DaVinci Resolve, the Colour Wheels are called Lift (shadows), Gamma (Mid-tones) and Gain (highlights) if you’re in Primaries mode, which is the most basic option and probably the one to start out with when you’re learning to grade.

Each wheel has quite a lot of overlap, so the shadow area actually affects the entire picture all the way up to the top, across almost the whole tonal range.

Clip 2

Motion Tracking / David BodeMotion Tracking / David BodeMotion Tracking / David Bode
Motion Tracking / David Bode

The grade for this clip was quite similar, the shadows are pushed a little towards blue and then a shape was made to isolate the two characters and then motion track that through the frame and then up the contrast by bringing town the shadows and increasing the highlights and also moving the highlights towards orange and away from blue to warm them up.

Adding a vignette and cooling shadows / David BodeAdding a vignette and cooling shadows / David BodeAdding a vignette and cooling shadows / David Bode
Adding a vignette and cooling shadows / David Bode

Then there’s a slight vignette added like in the last clip, to focus the eye and cool off the shadows again.

Clip 3

Motion tracking / David BodeMotion tracking / David BodeMotion tracking / David Bode
Motion tracking / David Bode

In the final shot the tones already matched quite well but it but it doesn't have any of those lower purple-blue notes from the previous clips, so here the same colour correction was applied as you saw in the others, but this time the vignette isn’t in the centre, and it’s motion tracked.

Now the vignette will go along with the character as the shot moves across rather than staying in the centre.

Summary

You’ve now seen an example of how you can make some quick, similar changes to tonally different film clips to make them look a little more like they belong together. Sometimes picking dominant colours from one clip and nudging the others towards those same colours can help with that, as can pushing the eye to focus to a particular part of the scene by increasing brightness and contrast in just one area.

A vignette will frame a shot, again aiding with directing your viewer to look in a particular place, and if the shot has a lot of camera movement in it, remember that motion tracking will keep the changes where you want them to be.

More DaVinci Resolve Resources

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 lesson 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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