When you watch a movie, there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure that that movie gives off a certain feel. Everything from set design, to camera choice, casting, lenses, they all make an impact to how your movie feels. But one of the easiest ways that people have found to replicate that feeling is with color.
So today, we’re going to go over 3 basic looks:
Desaturated / Post Apocalyptic
The Matrix Look
The Teal / Orange Look
We can get all three of these pretty easily, and we'll show you how to get them right inside Premiere Pro. We’re going to go over them in order from easiest to hardest. So, let’s jump into Premiere and learn how to get these effects.
But to start off, I need to say that while you can get this look inside of premiere, there are more powerful free tools out there to help you achieve a greater specificity of your color grade. Specifically, Davinci Resolve has a very powerful free version, and if you’ve got access to the entire creative cloud suite, then you can actually use Photoshop to create lookup tables (or LUTs) to then use later in Premiere Pro.
Also, if you want to just have a simple drag and drop solution. Each of these looks has a built in preset more multiple presets that can kind of get you the look you’re going for. Go down to creative and you’ll see that under look, there's a variety of preset looks you can choose from. Three examples that come close to our ideals are 'SL Bleach HDR', Then 'SL Matrix Green' (surprise surprise) and finally 'SL Blue Ice.'
You can use these as starting points to your look or as simple substitutes if you have absolutely no time to put into this. But we’re going to go in depth and create each look from scratch.
The first thing that we want to do with this desaturated look is, surprise surprise, lower the saturation. But believe it or not, we’re not done. One of the things that is central to this look is lack of colour, but surprisingly, a lot of brown that creeps in. So we’re going to do 2 things. We’re going to go down to our shadows of our three wheel color corrector here and push the shadows into the brown area here a little bit. Great. We’re starting to get there. Now we’re going to go to our curves section and give it a bit of a more moody feel. It’s post apocalyptic so chances are you’re going to want things to look a little edgy. Bring down the shadows a little bit and then raise the highlights a little bit. Your personal taste may vary, but the idea of a post apocalyptic world is that there’s not really a lot of beauty lighting. Things are harsh, but you also want to still make your film feel good to look at, so you’ll need to strike a balance. Lastly. Let’s bring out some more of the browns here by going down to our hue saturation curve where we can isolate a particular color to saturate. And for us, it’s going to be this area which has brown in it. Raise it up just a tad to give your film a little bit of a muddy look. Now that you have the basic look that you’re going for, play around with the saturation again and see what works for the feel of the shot you’re going for. I find what also helps is to pull up a reference image from a film that you’re trying to emulate, and taking a look every so often to see if you get closer to, or farther away from that feel.
The Matrix Look
Next, for the greenish Matrix style look, let’s start by going down to our three color wheels. We’re going to go down to our shadows here and THIS is where we’re going to be doing most of our green pushing. Believe it or not, the matrix look isn’t exclusively green. If you look at a variety of still frames of the movie, you may be able to tell that the green look actually has a little bit of blue. Most likely this is was done to help give the movie a colder feel as, spoiler alert, the idea is that the world of the matrix is virtual, computer created, and therefore a cold representation without human warmth. Believe it or not, green can mean a lot of different things. Do you mean chroma green, teal, lime green, forest green. So when coloring the footage, the creators had a lot of different options available to them. And one of the priorities was depriving the world of the Matrix from the feeling of being truly human.
To emphasize this, giving it a slightly bluer look will help achieve a more lifeless feel. So we’re going to be bringing the green in the shadows here down into the greens, but also pushing it a little closer to the teal side of things. To help keep the skin tones from being too greenish blue, we’re going to move the mid tones just a little bit into the orange section and the highlights similarly, but even to a lesser degree. Now we can play around with our sliders on the side here to control how bright each of these respective sections are. The matrix is a dark world so we’re going to drop the shadows a little bit and then drop the mid tones just a touch, then raise up the highlights just a little bit.
Next, we’re going to go all the way up to basic corrections and make the color temperature a little bit colder. Then finally drop the saturation a little bit, and we’re left with our Matrix Look.
The Teal / Orange Look
Now for the Teal and Orange look, we’re going to be going in depth more than average. To start with, I’m just going to up the saturation a little bit, and then we’re going to completely neglect everything else. Go all the way down to HSL Secondary. What this section is is basically a secondary correction that goes on top of your overall color corrections.
What’s amazing here is that we can isolate a particular color and make changes to it specifically. So here we’re going to take the eyedropper and highlight the skin colour of our subject. And you can see that from that selection, our selection has been applied to the sliders here. What we’re going to do now is go down to this box that says color/grey, and highlight it. Now what you should see is a range of color has been selected, and the color that you can see is what is able to have changes applied to it, and everything that’s grey can’t. So now, our goal is to have as much skin color highlighted with as little background being selected. Here we can move our sliders around by grabbing the middle. Expand or contract them by using this triangle, or give is more or less roll off with this slider here. And we can do that for all three categories, the hue, saturation, and luminance of the selection to get our final result. So we start here by trying to encompass all of the skin hue that we possibly can, and we can see that in our example in particular, we don't really have any trouble keeping it separate from the background, but we can’t get a good amount of the skin in. It’s important to try and roll off your selections as much as possible so that there’s no chance of colors being almost included in the selection but not quite, if you do fail to roll off, you can end up seeing some flickering of when minor lighting changes push a color in and out of the selection.
So now it's time to move onto the second slider, saturation. Here different saturation amounts under this skin tone we selected can be said to either be included or excluded from where we position our slider.
Lastly, the luminance will control if the brightest and darkest areas are included within this tone. And we can stretch this out to include even the harshest sections. Being careful that you try to keep as much of the background excluded as possible. Now with that done, you have two more options here called denoise and blur. Increasing denoising will help to cut off any small sections that have poked through that you don’t want to include, and blur will give an overall fade to your selection so that it appears less harsh when you see it play out in the color changes.
So with that, deselect your gray option here and here’s what you should be left with. No change. But if you go down to the wheel here you should be able to play around with it and see that any changes you make here affect ONLY your skin tone. And the isolation is actually pretty good. So here we can make changes to the skin color in particular, and you can go down that route, but personally, I actually like to do it this way. Take the selection you made for your color, and invert it by pressing this button here. The result? Now you can control everything except your skin tone. I really prefer to do it this way because skin tones can be really tricky. Too much change and you start to look like an alien or at the very least, kind of like you have a disease.
By working with the background and pushing it now towards the blues, we can contrast our skin tones and help bring them out simply by making them stand out from the background. For more control, select the three color wheel option here and go to town, trying to keep the shadows where you do most of the blue pushing. Now there we already see a teal and orange contrast by focusing on the background. So now all we have to do is stylize it and make it look a little more natural.
Go back to your basic color corrector, and I like to cool the entire temperature down a little bit. Then push the saturation up just a tadd. Then give it a little bit of life with the curves and finally, you can isolate the saturation of your skin tones in particular by using the hue saturation curve. The skin tones should be in this general region here. Personally, I’m pretty white, or a really pale orange if you want to get technical. But no matter what your skin color is, they should all be located in this general region of the color wheel. Which is why the teal blue contrast works regardless of who you are, because all the skin tones match up to be on the opposite side of the color wheel from blue. Pretty neat right?
So, click to make two little dots on either side of this region and then make one more to either lift up or drop down, depending on the look you’re going for. You don’t have to make a very big change at all. Just a little more intensity to the skin tone, or a little more reserved. Personally, I’m going to push it just a hair. And then lastly, I’m going to re-emphasize the changes made by making some very minor pushes in our normal color wheels, NOT the HSL Secondary color wheels.
And with that, we have our classic teal/orange look.
It takes a little more effort than with some of the other tutorials you might see floating around, but we think that it gives more versatility to your color if you don’t want to jump into another program for coloring.
But there’s 1 last thing. You might have created each of these looks and thought that it's the look you’re going for but maybe it’s a little too much, too intense and you need to pull it back a bit. A simple solution that works for any look is to duplicate your footage and place the duplicate directly above the original. Now, go to the bottom layer and go to effects controls and delete your lumetri color adjustment. At this point you should see no change, but now if you decrease the opacity of the top clip, you’ll see that you start to lower the intensity globally of the color changes you have made from the original. So you can drop it down to 75% opacity and you’ve effectively reduced the intensity of your color change by 25%. Neat right?
We hope you found this video helpful. If you did, we’ve got lots of other tutorials for Premiere Pro, After Effects, and filmmaking in general! If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.
Thank you so much for watching and we hope to see you in the next video!