Grading, for the uninitiated, can refer to three things, all of which form an important part of the producer’s life.
- Grading in education terms is what my primary school wife does pretty much every day- has this child reached the grade – can we give them a 2 or a 1? (Obviously made more difficult by the fact that the government keep changing the goalposts, but that is another story. Or 3)
- Grading in construction terms is done by a grader- an exciting looking machine with a huge blade beneath it’s structure that planes the off the top of a new road or a field until it is perfectly flat and lovely. I like grading machines. What red-blooded male could resist?
- Moving swiftly on, grading in video terms is the art of taking a raw, flat video and adding colour and contrast and tone to it, to bring it alive.
These days, thinking film-makers and us as well (ho ho…) have the option to shoot everything with their cameras set to ‘log’ mode- the material will be recorded in camera with great dynamic range – more detail in the shadows and highlights – but initially looking very flat and dull.
That’s where the ‘grade’ comes. Software is used to put back the colour and the contrast to give the movie a particular look and feel. From the dull standpoint can be created the crushed blacks and green tinge of a Saving Private Ryan, or the saturated reds and poster colours of any number of 1950s early colour movies – and anything in between.
Grading gives a film a great look, a professional touch that although most people won’t be able to quantify will make the experience of watching it more engaging and enjoyable.
We usually grade and colour correct all our films and the extra time is well worth the effort.