Video… there’s just so much video in our digital world.

How do you decide what to watch and once you make that decision, what keeps you watching?

There are some things that a viewer may not always be able to articulate. An intangible quality, a certain look or feel that elicits a positive reaction, sets a mood or is simply just appealing to look at.

Good cinematography, the discerning eye of the person behind that camera, the vision of the director, the meticulous attention paid to lighting details and production design, none of these elements can be ignored.

As the digital world races to produce more and more video, faster and faster, there are important steps in the post-production phase that sometimes get left out of the mix.

Whether due to budget or timing, sometimes it’s easy to dismiss colour grading as a non-essential step in today’s quick-turnaround video world, but the evidence suggests that doing so is a really big mistake.

Fifth Story often works with Darryl Kingdon, senior colourist at Digital Frameworks, and his take on colour grading puts a fine point on the matter.

“In today’s world of media saturation, you only have seconds to capture the viewers’ attention. If you want your brand or product to be memorable, your video needs to instantly captivate the viewer and create an emotional and lasting response. Colour grading takes a good image and makes it great. It can enhance or create a style that ultimately sets it apart from the original unprocessed camera file or negative. Can your brand afford to risk that first impression?”

I remember the first time I watched Kathryn Bigelow’s 2010 Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker.

My initial attraction was not to the devastatingly poignant story or intense characterization, what initially caught my attention was the way the film looked and felt.

It was different than anything I had seen before, especially in a film that focused on the atrocities of war.

The film’s colorist, Stephen Nakamura, on this film: “Kathryn saw Sgt. James [main character played by Jeremy Renner] as being ‘addicted’ to war’. I started looking at the photography and thinking about that idea and I was playing with the notion that Sgt. James doesn’t see Iraq the way the other soldiers might. This is where he wants to be. If you went to Hawaii and just loved being there, you might remember, ‘That place has the greenest plants I’ve ever seen. They had the bluest water of any place in the world.’ So, when other people might be looking at these parts of Iraq as this sort of really drab, desolate place, he might look at it and see something beautiful.”

As I said, it was this attention to detail in the post-production stage that caught my eye and made me want to watch the film multiple times.

So, why would we ever consider not applying this logic to the branded videos that we make on a daily basis, whether aimed at television or online?

If you’d like to see some examples where the team at Fifth Story has used colour grading to alter moods and ultimately keep eyeballs glued to the screen, check out this video.


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