5 color grading mistakes to avoid at all costs

Professional color grading takes years to master. But as TravelFeels points out, there are a few telltale signs of an amateur color grader.

Matti Haapoja from Travel Feels reveals the five mistake he sees many beginner color graders make. These are mistakes that you need to avoid at all cost if you want your work to be considered professional. So, if you’re looking to improve your color grading game, pay close attention to the video above.

Having a poor starting point

This technically doesn’t involve color grading, but having good footage to start with is a must. You can work a lot of amazing fixes when color grading, but you can’t work miracles. Haapoja says the you must make sure all your shots are correctly exposed.

Not only will the shots not be very viable in post, shots won’t look consistent. Even if you slap on the same LUT, they won’t look cohesive.

Using unnatural colors

Another common mistake made by beginning amateur color graders is using unnatural colors for shots. Haapoja says an example of this is using magenta in shadows and midtones. It just look so unnatural, especially on people’s skin. Opt for oranges and teals instead.

Magenta in shadows and midtones looks very unnatural
Magenta in shadows and midtones looks very unnatural

Overusing LUTs

As Haapoja puts it, don’t go Oompa Loompa. Some LUTs make things really orange and if you over do it it can leave people’s faces really orange. The point here is, don’t overdo it on the LUTs. Even if you have the correct color combination, use LUTs in moderation. Dial back the colors to keep things looking more natural.

Skipping color correction

Always color correct your shots before you add in your LUT. It’s nearly impossible to get the correct contrast, color balance and saturation when shooting. You will have to make adjustments in post. Apply the LUT after making those adjustments.

You must color correct before color grading
You must color correct before color grading

Not matching your shots

Consistency is key. Even if you have two perfectly color corrected clips, if they don’t match when put together, it will seem amateurish. Have the same contrast, saturation and colors throughout.

So the next time you are color correcting, keep these mistakes in mind so you can avoid them. Your clips will look a lot more professional.