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Three Best Tips to Colour Grade Your Stock Footage

By lunamik / January 5, 2017

Stock footage is another phrase for a collection of videos, clips and images over the years. Most videographers will have hundreds or even thousands of stock videos because they are waiting for the day it could be used.

With the numerous projects a video producer accepts, there are certain instances when the footage you need already exists in your hard drive. You go over the stock videos you have and finally find the perfect clip for your project. The only problem you have is that the colour and look of the clip does not match the other newly taken videos. If you have encountered this problem, you do not have to worry. Thanks to the advanced online editing software we now have, even stock footage can be adjusted to match exactly what you need. Colour grading is the general technique used to alter the colour and look of your old video footage.

Under colour grading are different aspects or qualities of the clip you will need to adjust. Listed below are some tips you can apply to have the perfect blending.

Colour Balance

The first quality you can adjust is the colour balance. It gives you the ability to tweak the intensity of the individual primary colours: Red, Green, and Blue (RGB)

You might think that all videos or movies are rendered in the same tone of colours. The next time you watch a movie, take note of the colour scheme or theme they use. Compare it to your other favourite movies. You will notice that a horror movie is completely different from a romantic-comedy film. Horror films usually have an overall dark look with a strong emphasis on shadows.

If you have old clips suitable for a horror film, you can adjust the colour balance just like how you normally do for a photo. Before playing with the adjustments, you should watch the clip to have an idea how the shadows and colours change all throughout the clip.


The next colour parameter you can play with is contrast. Sometimes, even after you adjust the colour balance you still find that the stock footage is not quite blending with your existing videos. The reason behind this may not have anything to do with the colour grading. The difference may be due to the equipment used.

There are cameras that shoot footage with higher contrast while others shoot in RAW. RAW photos usually have lower contrasts to give way for adjustment and colour correction. By adjusting the contrast, you can match footage taken from different cameras. A high contrast clip means that the difference between white and black colours becomes more evident.

Grading Presets

If you are not familiar with programs that manually adjust the colour, you do not have to worry. There’s other colour grading software that already features grading presets. The grading presets are pre-determined colour grading effects.

There are many different grading presets to choose from. What you can do is pick the setting that closely matches your current footage. Most grading presets has still adjustment options. After setting the grading preset, you can still tweak some parameters to your desired look.

Some programs that have grading presets include Lumetri Colour Presets available in Premiere Pro. Final Cut Pro also has colour grading wheels for grading which give you a decent amount of control. There are also Look Up Tables or LUT where you can find other colour grading presets. PremiumBeat also has free colour grading presets that can change the look of your Shutterstock Footage instantly.

Mastering the technique of colour grading is done through practice and error. You just have to experiment the presets and adjustable parameters. You can make duplicate files of your footage to have a backup in case you cannot return the original look. By doing so, you can be more confident in tweaking the colour parameters mentioned above.

You can also ask your co-workers or friends for an opinion regarding the adjusted footage. When you are working on a clip for hours, your eyes get used to how it looks. You should ask a third opinion to have a fresh eye look at your work. You can take their criticisms positively and use it as a guide to improve your colour grading skills. There are also much more complicated techniques that you can apply to achieve a specific theme or look.

You can always check the internet or ask experts to give you some advice. Having a keen eye is also a plus when you are watching movies and films. The more you note of the colour scheme, the more you gain experience on how a certain setting should look. You will be amazed how different the colour grading of various films. You will realise that colour indeed adds effect on the overall experience of the movie.

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