Colorist Tip #30 – Focus Attention

The second question to ask yourself – “How can I focus attention on my subject?” Techniques to help bring attention to the subject include edge vignettes, saturation adjustments, color contrast, etc.

When coloring, you always want to lead the viewers eye and bring attention to your subject. There are a few techniques to do this. For instance, the desaturation vignette from the last post actually fits into this question as well.

Your choice of look also affect this. One of the reasons that the “blockbuster” look has gotten so popular is that it make human skin tones “pop.” Skin tones are roughly an orange-ish hue, and the complimentary (opposite/contrasting) color on the spectrum is a teal hue. If the background goes teal and the skintones go a little more saturated orange, the contracting colors help make the character pop off the screen and immediately draw the viewers eye to him/her.

Another easy technique that can bring attention to the subject is an edge vignette. I used one in the final grade for the shot we were working with yesterday, so we’ll go back to it for just a sec. Again, here’s what the pre-graded image looked like:

Primary corrections only

And here’s what we ended up with last time, after removing the distractions of the background:

Where we left off...

The first step is to set up a soft vignette around the edges of the frame. On a side note, I almost always set edge vignettes up in the last secondary (S8). I feel like I get the best looking results if it’s on top of everything else. Anyway, here’s the vignette I set up:

I kept the shape a circle, and made the bounding box for this almost as tall as the frame

Everybody makes their edge vignettes a little differently, and we’ll go into a couple different ways to make them in a later post, but this one I kept a perfect circle, and I turned the softness all the way up to the maximum of 1.

Now We’ll switch to “outside” the vignette and pull down jus the shadows:

I left the mids and highlights alone and just pulled down the shadows.

Here’s the result. See how it focuses attention on the subject?

After the edge vignette

I know this might seem like a simple technique, but I (and several other colorists I know) put some sort of edge vignette on almost every single shot! We’ll go more into edge vignettes in a later tip. The next post will cover the last of the main questions you should ask yourself when working in Secondary Color Correction, and we’ll also finish up this example.

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