Colorist Tip #8 – Balance Contrast

When balancing, bring down the whites & lift the blacks to see if you have any more dynmaic range in the shot. It may look just a little low contrast, but it gives you some wiggle room when you stretch the contrast in secondaries.

Some codecs store a little extra detail squished into the highlights and shadows of the shot. One of the first steps in balancing an image is to lift the blacks and lower the whites to see what extra information might be hidden in there. This gives you a good idea if your shot has a lot of noise in the shadows, what shots might take what looks, what shot would serve best as the hero, etc. You also want to leave the shadows and highlights just in range of the waveform or histogram (i.e. don’t crush any detail). This will give you the best possible start for your “look,” where you can stretch the contrast and crush the blacks all you want. It’s not a good idea to throw away all of that detail in the balancing stage.

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