According to the Webster dictionary, color grading is "the process of altering and enhancing the color of a motion picture, video image, or still image either electronically, photo-chemically or digitally."
Color grading is as important as picking the right music, using the right part of a speech, and choosing the right footage to make a film a complete piece. While color correcting is about getting your footage to be as authentic and as close to reality as possible, color grading is the art of giving personality to a film. It allows the cinematographer/editor to be free to create something unique. Grading is a tedious task that requires hours of work but it can greatly enhance the film. It’s a very personal process and many people will have different opinions on how to grade a film. My friend and colleague, Sigmund Reboquio, said it best, “Grading your film is giving an identity to the final product that will help you to attract clients who have the same taste as you.”
Some examples as seen on TV and in the theater include: Michael Bay’s color grading of Transformers which is very saturated, the gritty-yellow color of Cohen Brother’s in No Country for Old Men, and the black and white film by Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist. All of these examples are different and each exudes a different mood, tone and feeling.
Here is a sneak peak of a film that I'm currently working on with an example of color grading.
color grading from Matthieu Meynier-CINEMATT on Vimeo.