High contrast, big colours, a sharp music video

Make it pop, baby!

Unlike my last project, this video was all about sharp images, high contrast and a colourful pallet.  A few weeks before I got the project I spoke to the DOP (cinematographer) whom had shot the clip to see how he felt the music video could look.  He really wanted the images to pop, be full of life and energy. A photo was given to me that he took on the day as a reference. The photo had big colours, high contrast and sharpness cranked up. Of course this would be a big help when it came to grading but....


Close but no cigar

I got all the footage, got the deadline and thought this is going to be a breeze. Usually I will do a few different looks from the grade and send it off before I start. This time though, after speaking to the DOP and getting an understsnding of the grade. I decided to go ahead and grade the entire music video. It was time consuming, some difficult shots and there was some late nights but I finished it off and emailed a link for the director and DOP to check over.  It doesn't matter how many times I send something off, I still get nervous about what someone is going to say. I instantly got a response back from the director and the DOP. "It's not really what I was going for". After a quick chat with the DOP, the photo came up in conversation that was given to me for a reference. The images needed more contrast, fuller colour's and a lot more sharpness. With some quick adjustments made and a few back and forth's, the video was done. Everyone was happy.

Orignal ungraded image

The end result


Node city

The node tree in Davinci resolve is a crazy helpful and a extremely important tool to help you grade. I really wanted the background to pop out in the video, but there's no point just cranking up the saturation, the whole image would be over saturated. 

Instead I created several different nodes to help isolate parts of the video that I wanted to work on. Below you can see that I've selected the background of the video so I could increase the saturation and overall brightness. This helps to really make the image pop out and create a less flat looking image.  

Ungraded background. Flat and colourless.

The background is isolated from the other images on screen.

Graded background. Colours are popping making it stand out more, creating more depth.

Another object I wanted to highlight in the video, was the awesome looking white jacket. I did this the same way I did the background, again, increasing the brightness and balancing the whites and blacks to give it a cleaner crisp white look.  Below you can see the results, clicking on the image you''ll be able to see a larger version to really see the results. 

Ungraded Jacket. Off yellow whites and dark.

The jacket is isolated from the other images on screen.

Graded Jacket. Crispsier looking whites and a lot brighter.


Yeah it's 4k, but it's still compressed... 

4K is great, any high res footage is always going to be better than a lower res footage, or is it? This music video was shot on a Sony A7, I think one not two.... The footage was shot in the MP4 format, which is a highly compressed format. This limits your range in post with grading. Anything that is over exposed or under exposed is going to difficult to get a good looking image. Fortunately enough for me, the video was shot by a man who knows how to balance his shots. Even though the image was compressed, there was a good amount of room to work with in post and the 4K helped to get strong colours and a sharp image. Of course I'd rather be working in ProRes 4444 or RAW, but if the image is well balanced then you've still got plenty of room. 


Again with the skin tones...

Just quickly, in the last blog I spoke about having a natural skin tone look for a short film I graded. I did a comparison to the Hollywood look and to movies shot on film. This music video falls in the Hollywood look. Very saturated, sharp and pushing that orange into those skin tones. 

Hollywood skin tones

Natural skin tones


Summing up

Like all projects, I tend to learn something new each time. It was a great project to work on, lots of fun making the images jump out at you on the screen.

Check out the DOP's work below on his website, his a man of great talent and a sharp eye.  http://www.aydinbozkurt.com.au/

Check out the music video here!                                                                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70o7TNN0LKg

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