All of the Adobe programs made for home-editing have a steep learning curve. It’s nearly impossible just to dive in and see what you can pick up on the fly. Figuring out how to operate Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Audition can be taxing even for people who have had some experience in these types of editing programs. These programs also have some incredible tools for fixing and editing home videos, and anything from amateur to professional video work. So while it can be a challenge to learn the system, Adobe has so much to offer a user that it is worth it to pick up a few tricks in the programs.
Adobe Premiere offers some amazing tools for doing color correction work. Many of these tools are rather complicated and not for the amateur user. Many of them are also unnecessary for the amateur user. A few tools that will help make a huge difference in the colors and look of your footage are fairly simple to learn. You don’t have to be an expert to use them well, but they make an incredible difference in the end product. These are the tools that I find to be the most useful, and the easiest to master, when it comes to color correction in Premiere.
Brightness & Contrast
If you have footage that is well-lighted, you are off to a great start. Bringing the light level down on your video is considerably easier than bringing the light up. When you attempt to make a scene that is too dark brighter during the editing process, the result is generally a grainy, unpleasant image that is virtually unusable, but you can darken the scene all that you want without losing quality.
More than any other tool in Premiere, I use Brightness & Contrast to correct my video footage. Brightness & Contrast serves two major purposes in digital video. One is that it has the effect of instantly bringing scenes that have vast color differences into a closer match. On a movie, for instance, that has used two different cameras at two different angles for the same scene, it is easy to end up with wild color variations that make it difficult to edit the two scenes into a cohesive unit, but by bringing the lighting down just a little, two scenes that didn’t match at all, start to look a little more alike. This only works if you have room to play with your lighting. Don’t bring the light brightness down on a scene that is already dark, or you will end up with footage that can’t be seen, but with enough light to work with, this is a great technique for nearly instantaneous color matching.
The Contrast feature serves the second purpose of this tool. Contrast also has a tendency to make your footage appear or darker or lighter. Increasing contrast sharpens the colors, and makes the image look darker, while decreasing it has the opposite effect. If you are looking to give your digital video more of a film look, that is the second major use of the Brightness & Contrast tool. I find that decreasing the contrast takes away that sharp crispness that digital video creates and leaves a much softer, film-looking image.
In Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, the Brightness & Contrast tool is under Video Effects, then under Adjust in the effects panel.
The Color Balance (RGB) tool is under Video Effects, and in the Image Control folder in the effects panel, and it is perhaps the easiest color correction tool in Adobe Premiere. Under the Color Balance (RGB) tool, it simply lists the colors red, green, and blue, and each color starts out at 100%. If you have footage that appears too red or not red enough, this tool is an easy way to fix that quickly. Under the Color Balance (RGB) tool, all a user has to do to bring that red down or bring the red level up is adjust the number next to red to bring it up or down. The color change is instant, and it is easy to correct again and again until it is perfect, without having to go back and undo previous corrections.
Fast Color Corrector
The last tool I use regularly in Adobe Premiere is the Fast Color Corrector tool. This tool is under Video Effects, in the Color Correction folder. It is a highly useful tool, but it is slightly more difficult to use than the above two tools. When opening the Fast Color Corrector, just the appearance of it alone is enough to send a timid user into a panic attack. With roughly twenty different options, many of which seems a lot like the same thing, it can be an intimidating tool to use, but there are only a couple of components that are really necessary, and which do the most good toward color correcting.
The Hue and Balance Angle consists of many parts, but the large colored dial in the middle is all that is needed. A user can use the hand on the dial itself to adjust the color of the footage, without having to worry about any of the numbers below. They will populate themselves according to the position of the dial. All a user has to do is watch the footage and stop on the dial when it looks right. With this tool, a user can make footage any color scheme, blue, yellow, red, to give it a surreal look
One other very useful tool on the Fast Color Corrector is the Output White. I find that when there is an overexposed (too much light) piece of video that is virtually unusable, the best way to make that video useable, besides bringing the brightness down some in Brightness & Contrast, is to bring down the Output White in Fast Color Corrector. The Output White starts at 255.00, and it can be taken down all the way to 2.00, which has the result of complete blackness. Any number in between these two numbers can adjust your footage to make it useful to your project.
When it comes to Adobe systems, the learning can be time-consuming and mind-boggling, but if you can learn a little bit in Adobe Premiere, it goes a long way toward making great video corrections.