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Adobe Premiere Pro - Advanced Training

Adjusting Tone with Curves in Premiere Pro

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this video we're going to look at curves. We're going to use it to, quote unquote, "fix an image", ready, bam. We're going to look at both, the generic kind of all colors, we're going to step through all the different RGB channels, and if I'm honest, it's probably the one I use the most to fix my images. I'm using air quotes, you can't see me, actually I do that a lot in this video, forgive me for my air quotes, that you can't see. Let's jump in and look at curves. 

So I'm going to use the same project from before, and what we're going to do is, we're going to use this one here. We're going to use the file called Color Correction A, sorry, 02 Color Correction A. I want to grab it and dump it into my Project panel, and I'll show you another little trick for starting a sequence, because it's going to fill up. What you can do is you can right click it, and go to 'New Sequence', or you can just click and drag it onto this, like little new thing, a little turned up page, and it will just make a sequence based on your footage. I'm going to give it a name, this is going to be my 'Curves'. 

So Curves, this one here, I'm going to turn my Comparison view off as well. If you can't see that, remember, it's under +, and drag down the one that looks like that. So this one here, put it in and just turn it off. I'm going to go up to Full resolution, and make this a little bit bigger. If you drag the kind of joins right in the middle here, you can kind of manipulate it all, I'm going to get to about there. 

So what I'm looking to do is, under 'Curves', so 'Lumetri Color', go down to Curves, this thing here, you're either using it loads, or you're scared of it. It's a kind of a scary thing. Curves are wonderful, and probably for me, the most used tool when I'm correcting. You can't see me, but I'm doing kind of like finger quotes, me correcting. 

I want to mess with the lights and the darks, the mid-tones, and basically, like 99% of the time your footage isn't like bad, just needs a bit of pop, shall we say, and you end up just doing this. This will work on just about every single image, and make it better, again, more air quotes, in my opinion. So I'm going to turn it on and off. You can see, I've made the blacks kind of richer, and the whites brighter, and it's a nice way of working. They call this the S-curve, because it kind of looks like a smooshed over S.

That works, like if you don't, take nothing else from curves, try that, like that little S curve there is amazing. You can double click anywhere to get rid of your, say you've made some-- too many points by accident, and you're kind of following along, and you're like, "Hey!," just double click anywhere. So let's understand it a little bit better. 

We're looking at all of the colors, every single thing in here, that's this little white box here, and we're going to say, down the bottom here, this is our darks. This is the dark parts of our images, the shadows. Mid tones are in the middle here, and over here are the highlights in our images, along here is more or less. So if I want to make the darks darker, I grab my darks, which is kind of anywhere down here, we don't generally-- you can grab this end point, there's nothing wrong with it, but you end up kind of clipping some of the colors, some of the black. 

So it's best to start just a little bit up here, we want to say, most of this black stuff, I want it to be blacker, drag it down, and if you want the whites to be whiter. So remember, along here are whites, and you want them to be whiter, lift them up, so you get more white, look at that, that's our S-curve. You might decide that, actually you want the whites, because it's kind of overexposed, you want to actually just kind of like bring them down a bit, and you might go, "Oh the mid tones, what happened to them?" They're all kind of washed out, you can grab that and drag it up a little bit, so you can get some really nice control, and it's this curve, this lovely curve, that gives you consistency, in my case I liked my original S-curve. 

How do you get rid of all of these? Do you remember? Double click them anywhere, and it will get rid of them all, and again I want my darks to be darker, and my lights to be a bit lighter, more light. So we're using this kind of white dot, that is all the colors. So that's a mixture of Red, Green, and Blue, RGB, that make up this image. You can work on them separately. So let's click on 'Red, 'Green, 'Blue', We're going to work on the 'Red', because this has a pretty clear color cast that let's say I don't want, I want to kind of try and remove it. So I'm going to try and remove some of the reds, and we can work on this red channel. 

It's a little confusing, this white little squiggle through. That's just showing you that original one, and doesn't really affect it, other than being annoying. We're looking at the red line through the middle. You can grab the middle, so remember, the mid tones, you can make them, in this case, more red or less red, more, less. So I'm going to cut this down, and I'm going to go down. You can go quite far, you get that kind of like, what's the term? I can't even remember, the 3D glasses effect. Let's get down to here. 

That kind of is a nice way of getting rid of the middle, like the mid tones of the red, and in this case, you know, how in this white one here, we didn't touch these ends, because it ends up clipping the color. You can do it with, when you're working on these kind of, like individual channels, you can say, actually the whites here, in the highlights, let's say there's reds in here, keep an eye on that, I can grab it, let's first start and drag it down, and we'll remove any reds from those highlights. 

I'll drag it right down, you can start to see, so just a touch in there, and are there any reds in the shadows.? Have a look at maybe this part, and this is where you can't, you can only drag it up, look, I can make more reds in the dark, but to remove them you can drag it to the right, there you go there, you see, before, after. You end up doing really subtle changes in here. 

Often I'm trying, I'm doing a little bit more broad, just to show you, but yeah, you might decide that there's a bit of green in there as well. So go into green, do the same thing, drop it down, go maybe blue, maybe, do we lift the blue up? I don't really want to do this, but hey, we're looking at more. 

So I feel it's a little bit more natural, more air quotes that you can't see. So before, after, before, after. So that's curves, I might have called them levels a couple of times, I do that by accident. So curves in here is a nice easy way. I like it because I can just-- it's very simple with the S curve, and it's very hard to break it, it's just subtle adjustments. It's going to be, I don't know, it's pretty forgiving. 

Now one question you might have is, like what's the difference between using curves, to kind of fix something like exposure or basic correction? We've got this tone one here, exposure, contrast, highlights, there is no difference. It's a different mech-- different levers to pull, to get to the same point. Can you use both? You sure can, but they're not doing different things if you know what I mean. 

We're still working through highlights and shadows, again, when we used our color wheels, we're looking at the shadows and trying to change the color of them, to remove the red. You could do that, or you could do what we did in here, and try and remove the red. So these are different ways of going about the same job. You might find yourself working with teammates, who are like die hard curves fans, and life can't exist without curves and white, and, "Why are you using these other things, curves are the best", and there's no real, like, I love curves, but I'm not going to go into battle for them, but you will find people that do, and you will find tutorials online, that use curves, and then another one that uses this, you'll be like, "Hmm," but it's just different ways of tackling the same. 

It's handy to know curves, because it's a really great way to add some of the color grading when we're looking for, say, let's for example, like the cinematic look, getting into curves and digging around, can like add effects to it, rather than, like what we're doing here, was a bit of correction. 

All right, so that's curves. Let's get on to the next video.