Color correction is foreign to many of us.  How do the pros get their images looking so rich and beautiful when mine still look kind of plain by comparison, even though I'm using a pro camera and everything?  Well, the answer lies in knowing how to use your software--there are many different ways to correct color and it can take years of practice to master.  You can use it to make the images pop, sure, but some of the reasons people may want to color correct or grade their video footage is to give it a certain look to enhance the mood or feel of their video.

Color Correction in Adobe Premiere

The footage you captured should be as "flat" as possible, i.e., no filters or saturated camera settings.  Each camera is different, so test it out to find your ideal profile setting.  It's important to get the ideal footage in-camera first, and different projects may require different settings.

In the above video, VScreen shot the footage using a Canon DSLR with the Neutral Picture style.

  • In Premiere, find the clip you want to add color to on the timeline and double-click it.
  • Click the Effects Control tab.
  • Search for Fast Color Corrector, and double-click it.
  • When the effect loads in the Effect Controls window, it's going to give you a ton of options.  Scroll down to the White Level and click the eyedropper icon.
  • Find the brightest/whitest area of your picture and click the eyedropper there.
  • Now go back to the Effect Controls window and go to the Black Level eyedropper.
  • This time you'll be finding the darkest/blackest part of the image and click the eyedropper on it.
  • If you want to do more to the image, you can go to the Gray Level and use the eyedropper to identify the neutral colors in your scene.  However, you don't always have to do this and you can actually mess up the picture using it.
  • You can also adjust your Color Level Settings: you can intensify the colors or add richness to your look.  The left corresponds to the blacks in the scene, the right corresponds to the highlights.

Boom--you should have an image that pops compared to the original footage.

Want some more Adobe Premiere tips?  Try these out:

Fixing Shaky Footage

Sin City Effect

  • David Counsell

    Your quick hit tutorials are fun and useful - I always glean a "little something" from them. Thanks!