Mixing footage from various cameras into one video can be tricky. Ideally, color graded footage is supposed to have consistent colors all throughout a video. Clips from a drone and a DSLR camera will be different to begin with, so learning how to properly color grade a video with multiple cameras is crucial for video editors. If the colors are warm in one scene and cool in another, then that is dead giveaway for footage shot with a different camera. YouTuber TravelFeels explains the camera matching process in his video called How Do You Match Cameras in Color Grading.
First Things First
If you are going to color grade, you will first need a color calibrated monitor and a video editing program. Get something like a DataColor Spyder5 Express color calibrator to accurately depict “true” colors on your laptop or desktop. In the video, TravelFeels used Premiere Pro CC, but you can do the same in other video editors like Vegas Pro.
Place your different camera footage on different tracks for an easier editing process. You can apply a LUT, or look up table, to all your clips for a more universal color base to start off with, but you’ll still need to go in and manually adjust the clips. Find the best footage you have and adjust that first so you have something to reference to.
Color Grading: Exposure
To adjust the exposure, TravelFells first added the contrast in his log footage and adjusted it near the zero and one hundred marks on the waveform. There is no benefit in passing the zero mark on the waveform since the exposure will be pure black and lack any more details. The one hundred mark on the waveform represents the white, and passing that mark will translate to overexposure. To further add contrast, the shadow was adjusted down. In order for the footage to reach near the one hundred mark on the waveform, the highlights were adjusted up. The midtones were manually turned down to make the skin tones in the footage better. Once you adjust your best footage, copy and paste the settings to other clips that were shot on the same camera.
Color Grading: Colors
Check the vectorscope to adjust the saturations levels. The further away the colors are from the middle of the scope, the more saturated they are. Using your best footage as a reference, adjust the other clips to match the saturation. In the video, TravelFeels turned down the saturation in other scenes to match his best footage. For the scene with sunlight in the background, the shadows were turned down, the midtones were adjusted up, and the highlights were turned down.
Color Grading Drone Footage with DSLR Footage
To match the other camera’s footage, TravelFeels went back and forth to his best footage and adjusted the saturation and color wheels to match accordingly. Since the best footage was cooler or bluer than the other video clips, the highlights in the drone footage were moved closer to the blue side. TravelFeels then did the same back and forth technique to adjust the midtones and shadows. Once you are done with adjusting the colors, copy and paste the settings to other drone footage and do minor adjustments to match the best footage.
Color Grading Footage Summary
To sum up the steps to color match different cameras, begin with adjusting the exposure and contrast then move to the highlights, midtones, shadows and colors. Make sure to always check the vectorscope for colors and waveform for exposure and contrast. At the end of the day, different cameras will have different base settings. Always start off with one clip for reference and adjust every other clip to match it. There is technically no wrong style in the art of color grading, but a color balanced video is visually more appealing.