I was approached a year ago by my long time friend, Kamden Storm, (Director) with the opportunity to edit a piece for FourTillFour, a cafe located in Scottsdale, Arizona. “The shop combines our passions for great coffee with our love for vintage machines” (FourTillFour). This is where the title “Purest Form” originated. Storm’s vision was simple, “to respect the coffee and the car for what it was and what it has become” (Storm).
After the cut was locked, it was time for the color grading. If rushed, all of the work achieved can be lost in a few clicks. Slapping on a LUT (preset) would not only show disrespect to the project, but also to the people who worked hard on set.
Before I began color grading, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to achieve with my look. Searching the web for inspiration, I came across a definition for the word purity, “the essential nature of any form.” This story being told was simple. Showing vintage cars and the art of roasted coffee for what it is, that’s it. The grade had to emphasize this, but how? How do you bring the colors back without polluting the image and disrupting the concept? You simplify them.
Let’s break down the grade and my thought process with one of my favorite shots from 0:41.
Straight out of camera this is what the LOG (original) image looks like. (Shot on the Red Helium).
After adding some color back into the image, you can see how difficult it is to focus on the protagonist. The distractions include the green bushes (too saturated), the brightness/color of the sky, and the dirt on the right side of the frame (screams for our attention). Although each of these elements in the shot are different, they all share a role in complicating the image and going against the theme of simplicity.
Here’s what happens when we desaturate the bushes and the dirt. Day and night difference.
This is the adjustment made to the sky’s brightness/color. We also affect the road color a bit, but this actually helps us out since it’s now reflecting the same color of the sky.
Brightness of the road turned down.
This is taking a little red out of the car to bring it into the environment. This is super subtle, but so important. If we take the saturation out of the surrounding areas, we need to match our subject to the environment or else it will feel out of place.
Finally, a little vignette to guide the viewer where to look and this is our final image.
Feel free to check out “Purest Form” here.