Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Anatomy of a Grade - Episode 12 - Bringing Dimension to an Overcast Day

Shooting daytime exteriors is always a dicey game especially in the world of independent production where budgets are tight and extra crew and equipment are often hard to come by. When clouds start to suddenly roll into a scene and everything becomes gray and overcast, the cinematographer is presented with the unfortunate reality that production demands: "we gotta shoot now, but it can't look flat!" Luckily for the 21st century DP the colorist "has his back" in this particular situation and there's quite a bit we can do to an overcast scene to give it more dimension, color, and contrast.

This particular shot was done for a feature on an Arri Alexa camera and provided me with a broad dynamic range of detail to push and pull the image around and morph it into something completely different (and hopefully more visually interesting). This is not the most complicated of grades, but sometimes the best solutions aren't the most complicated. You'll see that a colorist can do quite a bit with a simple primary color correction and little help from the simple "vignette". Enjoy!


  1. Good to see another anatomy of a grade! When I saw the after I went "wow". I know these videos are intended more as a guide and an explanation of the techniques required to achieve looks rather then a step by step tutorial but I found this a little too fast and had to pause a bit.

    Could you explain the tools you're using, it's a little had to follow since you're using a colourist panel and the levels display was up. Were you using log controls or standard colour wheels?

    1. Everything was done with primaries on the 3way color wheels in linear. Nothing fancy, just basic "push/pull" grading trying not to overwhelm the image with warmth and keep color separation.

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