Color Correction for Video by Steve Hullfish and Jaime Fowler (2nd edition 2009, Focal Press) is a serious overview of color grading for moving images. It’s platform agnostic, using screenshots and examples from major applications and filters, though favoring Apple Color. That’s a departure from the 1st edition that featured Color Finesse, a filter now built into After Effects. The new edition has been expanded by about a third with the addition of a quickstart chapter, beefed-up chapters on tool concepts and advanced tutorials, and infusions of advice from color experts throughout.
The book gives readers a firm handhold to monitor and control color in a big section on scopes and tools familiar to users of Photoshop and After Effects. Shorter chapters look at the details of primary correction (starting with tonal correction as you might expect) and secondary corrections (both vector-based, as found in a 3-way corrector, and spot-mask-vignette corrections). Since the book is designed for everyone interested professional color correction, it can’t cover every aspect of color for every platform. It’s a bit light on things like color theory and workflow issues (like codecs), and you won’t find mention of color management or Rec. 709 (the HDTV spec).
Advice from other experts and practice reinforce each other in the tutorials, which cover fixing dark video, low contrast shots, color casts, and tricky combinations. Advanced tutorials take a closer look at isolation, skin tones, day for night, and how color tells a story. Discussion is supported by sidebar tips and illustrations of footage and waveform monitor, vectorscope, and especially RGB Parade screenshots. A big bonus is the extra 25 iPod-compatible tutorial movies the DVD that comes with the book. Eleven of these were posted on the Hullish blog on PVC, CUT.N.COLOR. Source footage for tutorials is also included.
With the release of a software-only DaVinci Resolve for $1,000, affordable upgrades to Magic Bullet Colorista and Looks, and free bundles of Color Finesse and Apple Color, now may be the time for many of us to take our color correction skills up a notch. Color Correction for Video provides a solid foundation for those who want to deepen their understanding of color and this edition improves on the previous edition with added polish, expanded content, and video tutorials that complement the text. If you’ve already settled in with a tool for color correction, you may consider instead the 2008 book by Hullfish, The Art and Technique of Digital Color Correction. That book is similar in approach but does a little less handholding with tools, and it expands 100 pages beyond with more on secondary correction and deep analysis by several professional colorists on correcting the same footage provided on the DVD.