Color grading can transform every day iPhone footage into cinematic gold. It’s a filmmaker’s secret weapon. With pops of color and vivid light, color-grading infuses films with life.

Color grading can change films completely.
Color grading can change footage from day to night. Color grading can change footage from day to night.
Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

What is Color Grading?

Color grading boosts colors in a shot for specific appearances. Through special editing software, filmmakers can enhance their footage to have the desired effect on audiences. If you want your film to create a feeling of warmth, add yellow tones. If you want audiences to feel sad, add blue tones.

Every Hollywood filmmaker uses color grading to enhance their footage and create award-winning pieces. It’s an excellent skill to learn. Have you noticed a jaw-dropping color grading moment in one of your favorite films? Comment below and let us know what it was.

1. Day to Night

With tough schedules and limited time, filmmakers can’t always wait until night to film evening scenes. They have to film them during the day and use color grading to darken the footage. It’s incredibly difficult to do.

When filming a night scene during the day, be careful of lighting. You want the shadows to be softer. The moon doesn’t create the same deep shadows the sun does. If you can learn how to turn day to night through color grading, you’re on your way to a successful future in film.

2. Past and Present

When you’re watching a film that cuts between the past and the present, you might notice a difference in color. Filmmakers do this to make the change easier to understand. If the footage in the past has a yellow tint, and the present footage has a blue tint, audiences will have an easier time following along.

You’ll notice this in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. She tints the scenes in the past yellow, while the present scenes do not have a tint. It’s a clever trick. Watch out for this next time you watch a film that cuts back and forth in time.

3. Create an Ongoing Color Theme

You’ll notice that some films follow a color theme. They do this to create a cohesive look, or a specific feeling for audiences. Specific colors make you feel distinct ways, whether or not you realize it.

Red can elicit a feeling of love or passion. Yellow creates a feeling of warmth or youth. Green can remind you of nature or danger, maybe both. Filmmakers that use a specific color theme are doing it for a reason. It’s subtle, but it can have a big payout.

4. To Create a Cinematic Feel in your Film

Color grading has the power to change regular footage into crisp, clean film. With a few software changes, your everyday phone footage can look like it’s straight out of a major motion picture. It just takes a little practice.

Without color grading, many Hollywood films would look unimpressive. Sure, they would still be top quality and clear, but the color wouldn’t draw us in. Many of us don’t realize it, but without powerful color and cohesive theme we wouldn’t be as impressed with film as we are today.