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Grading a Commercial: How We Get it Right

Commercial Color Grading

Color grading is as complex as it gets. It is also the most important aspect of a video in post-production. Especially for a commercial that is usually under a minute or two. 

Our experts swear how harder it is to get a commercial right than a full-fledged feature film. As surprising as it sounds, the logic is quite simple. With a feature film, there is two hours’ worth of work to play around with, the rules are not set in stone, and there is limited focus on each frame. But when it comes to an ad, the entire effort is focused on a few frames. 

Our experts, who have honed their skills over the years, working on ads and feature lengths alike, share their tips here. It is a hard-to-master skill but worth the effort in the end. Let us look at what it takes to get color grading for ads right. 

The Best Practices for Mastering Commercial Color Grading

When it comes to color grading a commercial, there are certain parameters in place. A colorist has to work within these limits to make the best of it.

The limited frame times

A commercial has only about a couple of dozen shots. The effort is focused on these few shots, which can make the process more difficult.

Financial limits

The budget for a commercial will be very less, unlike the expensive ones of feature films. The colorist has to work within limited means.

Purpose of the ad

Unlike the artistic approach of a feature film, the ad film has a more commercial aspect. Each frame has a purpose. It is made with the intent to sell to the masses.

Specific grading techniques

A feature film colorist works according to the artistic vision of the filmmaker. But an ad film has to be colored in specific grading techniques common in the industry.

Understanding the Crucial Role of Midtones in Commercials 

In commercials, it is all about getting the mid-tones right. Commercials don’t have the liberty to underexposed and moody tones. The actors in ads need to be presented as attractive and pleasing. This does not leave much room for experiments. 

Commercials use accurate, neutral, and pleasant mid-tones. They are usually on the brighter side too. The attention should be on the actors and product. Skin tones are touched to look their best and brightest for commercials.

Mastering Power Windows

When coloring ads, power windows are a crucial tool in the hands of a colorist. The focus of ads is on the details. Every frame is carefully designed to give out the most info. 

Colorists would have to adjust the colors of the products on the screen to exactly match the approved color. With the help of power windows, colorists can choose the elements to highlight within a frame. This way, they can draw the viewer’s attention in clever ways. 

As always, keep an eye out not to overdo it. Too many power windows can draw out the natural feel of the film. 

Striving for Authenticity

It is tempting to stylize the heck out of a video. It is something that beginners often fall into. Pushing color grading to extremes is a big no when it comes to commercial grading.

What colorists have to keep in mind is that commercials often need a very light hand with color grading. It is mostly color correction they have to focus on. Most of the commercials need little effort if they are well shot. All a colorist needs to work on is applying a LUT, matching colors, and balancing shots. 

A touch of warmth or coolness and adding power windows do much of the work. Keeping commercials neutral and accurate is what works best. 

Color Grades for Your Commercials

Color grading for commercials can be as tricky as it is artistic. It takes years of expertise and careful attention to detail. It is about hitting the delicate balance between keeping it natural and professional. 

As experts in commercial color grading, we at Motion Grades have a proven track record of elevating commercial projects to new heights. Our commitment to achieving perfect mid-tones, utilizing power windows for precision, and embracing natural looks sets us apart as industry leaders in the art of color grading.

If you’re a cinematographer or filmmaker seeking to enhance your commercial project with exceptional color grading, look no further than Motion Grades. Let our expertise breathe life into your visuals and captivate your audience. 

Contact us today to collaborate on your next commercial. Your project is in good hands when you trust Motion Grades.