Learn Color Correction Techniques for Premiere Pro CC (Tutorial)

Premiere Pro February 5, 2019 6 min read

As an editor you will have to work with a variety of types of footage from a range of different cameras, often shot by a host of different camera operators. It’s fair to say that you will come across some dodgy camera work and poor lighting from time to time, so it’s essential you know how to improve your videos with Adobe Premiere color correction.

Part 1: Color Correction vs. Color Grading?

Firstly, you should understand the difference between color correction and color grading. While you may use many of the same tools, they should be treated as two separate processes.

Color correction is the process of fixing any issues within the shot regarding lighting or color so that all of the shots look consistent. Color grading is the work that is done to a piece to create a ‘stylistic look’ to your film. You should always correct your shots before you grade them, so you are working with a clean palette to begin the process.

Editors will have different workflows. Some will complete all of the edits before moving on to the color correction, others will opt to correct shots as they go. The reality is, there is no right or wrong time to fix your clips. You may even decide when to color correct based on the project you are working on. Especially, if some shots are so challenging you are unsure you can include them in your edit at all.

Part 2: How to Color Correct in Premiere Pro CC

Color Workspace

Click on the Color tab at the top to switch to the color screen. Adobe has done their best to optimize all of the correction and grading tools under one screen, but to the uninitiated, it can seem a confusing mess.

Color Workspace

In the right-hand column, you will see all of your color options, while the individual controls/scopes live in the top left corner panel.

Lumetri Scopes

These are viewable in the top left panel, and there are several options to choose from, it might look like a daunting amount of settings, but don’t worry we’ll guide you through. Right-click in the window to bring up the options for the type of scope you want to look at in more detail.

All of the scopes show graphical information about the color and light in the shot currently being viewed.

Lumetri Scopes

If you skim along your sequence, you will see the scopes change and reflect the shapes and colors in the clip.

Each Scope type will show you something slightly different, and it is up to you to find the right one that suits your footage. When we overlay the scope with the clip, we can see how the light and colors are represented.

Scope Overlay on Clip

The scopes will help you identify where corrections should be made in your shots, and help you to define the best solution.

Lumetri Panel

The Lumetri Panel contains all of the tools you need to both correct and grade your shots, but for now, let’s look at the Basic Correction Tools. Click on the checkbox next to Basic Correction to open up the settings.

Basic Color Correction

White Balance (WB)

The White Balance selector allows you to use a color picker to select the ‘White’ in your shot, which will automatically change the temperature and tint controls.

Temperature

The temperature control lets you set the tone of your clip between extreme blue and orange. For the most part, issues with White Balance will create a shot that is a little blue or orange is its overall hue and you can use the temperature control to offset this.

Tint

Similar to the temperature control, this gives you the ability to control the green to pink hue of your clip finely.

Exposure

This can help you mitigate issues where the shot has been filmed with too much, or too little light entering the camera.

Highlights & Shadows

These two controls help you push the color range into either the lightest or darkest parts of your shot.

Whites & Blacks

These two controls help you increase the amount of white or black that is mixed with the colors. Too much white will create a washed-out look, whereas too much black will create a dark shadowy look.

Saturation

Saturation changes the vividness of the hues in your clip, separating them from the grey tones in that light range.

Color correction aims to neutralize your clips (as best you can) so that they have consistent light and color. The best way to become more proficient is to play around with the controls. Have fun with it and study the effects on both the scope and the shot. Let’s go through how we fixed this shot of basketball players using the waveform (RBG).

From the scope, we can see that there is a lack of both color and light at the top. The first step is to adjust the Exposure, adding more light to the shot.

There is now a lot of red in the lighter areas, which is creating the orange hue to the piece and is exacerbated by the more dominant patch of yellow floor. Next, we change the temperature of the clip, adding blue.

The mid-range areas include a lot of green. Since this level includes the skin tones of the players, we need to add a small amount of pink tint.

The clip is already looking a lot better! Remember, we don’t want to create a stylized color grade at this point. Minor adjustments are needed for the remaining tools to complete the correction.

The clip is now corrected, and you can see the vast improvement between the original and new shot. Next, we need to adjust the rest of the sequence; this can be done by both looking at the footage and looking at the scope. Here you can see the difference between the clips, only one of which has been corrected. When you color correct the second clip, the scopes look similar in the display of light and color.

Part 3: Pro Tips and Shortcuts

Monitors

Your computer monitor will have a different range of colors to your phone or tablet. Using the color scopes can help ensure that you’re not over correcting to account for your specific monitor type.

Workspace

Using the scopes can take up a lot of screen space. If you don’t have a second monitor, try moving the workspace around and closing any panels you don’t need.

Organize Workspace

Copy and Paste Corrections

Knowing how to copy and paste your corrections to another clip can save you a lot of time. If you have a lot of clips that are all shot similarly, this skill will be crucial.

Select the clip with the correction and press command/control C on your keyboard. Select the clip you wish to apply the correction, right-click, and select paste attributes. What this does is bring up a menu of all of the effects and settings used in the clip you copied. Select Lumetri Color and hit ok, couldn’t be simpler.

Masks

You can also use these with Lumetri color, allowing you to correct specific parts of your shot independently. Check out this article for help using Adobe Premiere Pro masks.

Once you have color corrected your shots, you can move on to the fun part of the process. But it is vital that you adjust your footage first! Things can get very complicated if you go straight to grading. This is because you can’t rely on the effect working in the same way from shot to shot.


The best way to learn to use Premiere Pro color correction to improve your videos is to practice. Each video you edit will have its own unique set of problems for you to troubleshoot. But color correcting doesn’t need to be a headache. Once you understand the tools, you will be able to transform even the most challenging of footage. And we hope this tutorial has helped you get to work on something you’d be happy to add to your showreel!