DCP 137: Patrick Inhofer On Color Correction and Color Grading

Patrick Inhofer returns to the Digital Convergence Podcast to talk about color correction and color grading. Patrick Inhofer is a professional colorist. His work has appeared on HBO, NBC, ABC, Showtime, ESPN, Oxygen, AMC, Lifetime, TNT, TBS, National Geographic Channel, TV One, BET, Virgin Records, and, well, the list goes on! With over 20 years of experience, he's truly passed the 10,000 rule–he is the go-to expert in all things color.

Color is one of those things we all know instinctively what it is, yet, when asked to define it, words tend to fail us. One dictionary's definition defines color as "the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light." There's a lot of science behind the romance of color!

Color is key to the aesthetic of photography and video. In the days of physical film, color correction and grading was a tedious, time-consuming, and extraordinarily expensive process. Go back and listen to the DCP episode that we did a couple of years ago with color timer Dale Grahn. Today, the situation is very different. Film has been largely replaced with digital "film"–video. Post production tools are more accessible and affordable than ever before. You can download Black Magic Design's DaVinci Resolve free. If you are creative pro you probably have a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud which includes SpeedGrade. These powerful tools can be quite daunting to master.

Patrick Inhofer is on a mission to help us understand the art and craft of color correction and grading. He starts with the the "why" and then guides us to the "how" and "when." This understanding comes from years of real world experience. Through his blog and newsletter Tao of Color, and his color grading insights membership website Mixing Light, Patrick is more than an instructor–he's a mentor and guide.

Dave Dugdale graciously accepted a last minute invitation to join the show. It was great having Dave share in the conversation. He has been doing extensive testing of the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7s footage in color grading. Because of that, Dave had a lot of good questions for Patrick. Here is the chart that Dave created and was talked about in this episode:


In this episode Patrick talks about:

  • Trends in color looks and aesthetics in current and future video projects.
  • Where do you start when learning how to color correct?
  • Correct overall problems for each individual shot before focusing on overall look
  • Understanding the role of log in recording and color grading (Canon Log-C, Sony S-Log2)
  • Answers Dave Dugdale's workflow questions using his Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7s cameras
  • Why adjusting brightness is the first thing to reach for in matching skin tones
  • Other skin tone matching tips
  • The"ends" against the "middle"
  • How photographers can help colorists
  • Taking time in pre-production to plan color
  • Light for contrast while shooting flat
  • Though we work in a technical field, don't lose sight of our art
  • Why he doesn't really care about cameras
  • You have more impact on the image than your camera ever will
  • What is the best way to master the craft of color correction
  • Colorist's Flight School Training
  • Learn when you need to learn
  • When to use the "auto" button and why it's an advance feature, not a beginner's feature
  • His desert island challenge to color correct with a base install of Final Cut Pro X
  • Learning how to fly an airplane is a good approach to learning how to color
  • How to break out of your bad color grading habits

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