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Grading in Compositelab tutorial.

Posted: Thu, 4th Oct 2007, 10:06pm

Post 1 of 3


Force: 3081 | Joined: 26th Feb 2006 | Posts: 1534

VisionLab User VideoWrap User FXpreset Maker Windows User MacOS User

Gold Member

Rating: +3

Well hello there.

I’ve decided to put together a tutorial on digital grading. Hopefully this will come in useful for some people for when they want to grade their movie or create presets. Well read on then wink.

Grading really helps build a mood of a scene, if you want the scene to come across cold and chilly you need a blue, orange for warm scenes, green for an action style grade and it goes on.

I used Compositelab pro so the contrast pro won’t be in Compositelab lite but feel free to use the Brightness and Contrast filters.

Lets begin

Well before we can begin grading our footage we need some video clips to grade. The three videos I used in this were from the Fxhome file found in [Start > My computer > Local disk > Program files > Fxhome > either Compositelab or Effectslab > Example_Projects > Media] Quite a way to find them smile.

Now the reason I used three pieces of footage for this is because making presets require the filter to be able to run smoothly on another footage clip with different lighting. Using three clips allow us to make sure the grading is right on one clip but also on another and another. So lets import the three clips and get started.

You should now have a timeline that looks like this.

The Grading

So that’s the importing done, lets get into the actual grading side of things. Click the effects tab and then click and drag the grade filter onto the canvas or the timeline and a sidebar should pop up to the right of the screen.

The Contrast and Brightness

Now we need to begin grading. I always start off with a contrast pro filter to sort out the blacks. So lets click the contrast pro filter.

By setting the black point to 36 and the white point to 226 the image should have a nicer tone of blacks showing. Keep in mind that action films tend to use a higher black point.


We have set up our contrast now so lets move onto the colour of the footage. A good way to make your clip look more detailed is de-saturating it a bit.

Currently leaving the filter at 1.00 the image doesn’t change. Look at the image below.

The top view shows us the footage with a saturation of 0.75. This makes the colour in the footage slightly disappear but is still viewable. The one at the bottom is set to 1.33, which stands the colours out much more. For now we’ll use the 0.75 setting and move onto the next area.

Ambient Lighting

Here we just click on ambient light at the very top of the sidebar. Click the red bar that appears under the toolbar named “ambient light” and you then get a colour palette pop up. Type these settings in.

Red – 5
Green – 140
Blue – 0

Hue – 117.96
Saturation – 1.00
Value – 0.55

That should look like this now.

Click “OK” and the changes will be added.

Well it’s worked all right, but there appears to be too much green in the scene. We can make the clip appear more realistic without having to lower the ambient light.

Colour Balance

Colour balance does as it says. It balances the colours out making it keep your original colour as long as you use it properly. Lets import a colour balance filter.

Right, time to get rid of some of that green in the clip. Either move the bars to the shown numbers or type them in.

Red – 123 (This brings out the reds more such as skin tones and red stuff)
Green – 1.00 (This is left untouched due to already having green in.
Blue – 1.34 (This brings out the light areas of the clips)

The check over

Now the clip should be looking quite nice. Well that clip that is. Time to check if the other clips are normal.

Starting from the top blue time bar click the green circle and it will turn red. This turns off that clip on the canvas allowing us to see the other clip below it. To see the clip below the second clip just click the green circle.

Well done…if you did it right.

Well if you followed that all right and understood it your final clips should looks a bit like this.

Well you don’t need to just use these settings for everything, have an experiment using different contrast levels and any of the filters in the program. I did a quick experiment with two moods for the clips by only changing the colour balance and Ambient Light..

Well thanks for reading wink Hope this helped some people out there.


If you’re not sure how to import your footage then I suggest reading the manual which is found in the program listed under “Help” or watching the video tutorials on

Last edited Mon, 8th Oct 2007, 9:09pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 4th Oct 2007, 10:27pm

Post 2 of 3


Force: 2182 | Joined: 10th May 2007 | Posts: 1376

VisionLab User PhotoKey 4 User FXpreset Maker FXhome Movie Maker Windows User

Gold Member

Cool, this was helpful, thanks. I always semm to mess up when i grade.
Posted: Fri, 5th Oct 2007, 12:25am

Post 3 of 3


Force: 17995 | Joined: 20th Jan 2002 | Posts: 6124

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker MacOS User


Some good advice in there, and the results are nice, but adding too much green with an ambient light filter, and then color shifting to remove it, seems a bit counter-productive. Every filter you apply to your footage is going to increase the load on your processors to render it, and therefore increase render times. Is there an advantage to this approach, as opposed to just reducing the ambient light?