By Chris Karel published January 22, 2018

What does it mean to color correct a video?

The “Ask a Producer” series features a conversation with an expert video producer to get answers to your questions regarding video production for businesses. “What does it mean to color correct a video?” is a question that stems from confusing industry jargon. Knowing the definitions of the following keywords will help you have an informed conversation about video color correction.

color correction – to alter the color of the light seen in a video

luminance or luma– the overall brightness of the image from black to white

hue – is color, more specifically different grades of color like “light” blue, or “dark” red

saturation – is the intensity of the color or hue. Primary colors (red, blue, yellow) are fully saturated

Chris Karel: When describing the video production process we mention color correction as a final step in the process. The immediate question is, “What does it mean to color correct it?” What does that mean?

Neil McCormick: Well that is a wonderful capability that exists with video where an editor can control the actual density of the color. For example, a talented editor can change how rich the yellow is, or how light the yellow is, or where it is in the spectrum of hue. There’s quite a bit of control now. We have control over so many variables of luminance and hue.

CK: I try to describe color correction in terms that anyone can understand. For example, instead of saying luminance or luma, I say we can make it lighter or darker. I may also say we can make the video “oranger” or “bluer” instead of using the term hue.

NM: Right. Or we may mention that we can adjust the color saturation, which really means we alter how brilliant or dull the colors appear on the screen.

CK: Exactly. Everyone looks at pictures and videos on various screens all day long. Using a common language is key.

NM: People should also know that color correction can be very time consuming. Often it is best to color correct after the shots are locked in place. To make sure you deliver a high-quality, end product, you will want to plan and budget time for adequate color correction during your post-production process.


Have you ever had issues with color correction? How do you like to color correct a video? Comment below or email me: chris@cinecraft.com. If you liked what you read, please subscribe! You’ll receive helpful corporate video resources delivered to your inbox each week.

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