What is Grading Footage™ and how does it work?

What is Grading Footage™ and how does it work?

 When in 2019 I started my filmmaking journey, I also started practising color grading. I switched to DaVinci Resolve anyways, so I better make good use of the full software (which I got when I bought my Pocket 4K camera). I’d spend hours upon hours searching the web for the right tutorials and courses, which were relatively easy to find. However, something I always found strange was that the tutorials never supplied footage to practice what you’ve just learned. After a while, I was done grading my boring footage of wild rabbits from a park in Amsterdam. This planted a seed for what I now call; Grading Footage.

Over the last 3 years, I’ve worked hard to shoot diverse projects. All this footage was collecting digital dust on my hard drives, which is a pity. That’s why you can now download individual packs from my website, containing a bunch of clips to get your color grading skill to the next level.

I started this initiative because I would have wanted something similar to exist when I started my color grading journey. I want to support aspiring colorists, and that’s it. I’d love to develop a community over time with like-minded filmmakers that connect. This, to me, is worth more than money. Of course, I need to pay my bills as well, so by building a community, I can create practical filmmaking courses that can help you even further and help me sustain this plan. But that is all future talk!

Over the last 3 years, I’ve worked hard to shoot diverse projects. All this footage was collecting digital dust on my hard drives, which is a pity. That’s why you can now download individual packs from my website, containing a bunch of clips to get your color grading skill to the next level.

I started this initiative because I would have wanted something similar to exist when I started my color grading journey. I want to support aspiring colorists, and that’s it. I’d love to develop a community over time with like-minded filmmakers that connect. This, to me, is worth more than money. Of course, I need to pay my bills as well, so by building a community, I can create practical filmmaking courses that can help you even further and help me sustain this plan. But that is all future talk!

Guy sitting behind his grading setup

How Grading Footage works:

Technically, it’s a folder containing a bunch of clips that belong to the same story. All these clips are being ‘media managed’ in DaVinci Resolve, which means they are trimmed down to 10 frames and saved back as their original codec. I hear you think, can you even do that? Yes, you can! But more on that later. Where were we… Oh, yes, …folder containing clips. With these clips, you can go nuts on the color page. The good thing is that I can put this online for free since you can do nothing with a 10-frame clip besides using them for color grading. If these clips were to be longer, they would become stock-footage clips, which, of course, are of a lot more value.

10 frame long clips on a timeline in DaVinci Resolve

DaVinci Resolve Media Management (MM):

DaVinci Resolve is among the most powerful editing software on the market. It hosts everything a filmmaker could ask for. Think of a solid media page, cut page, edit page, color page, sound mixing page and a dedicated export area. And if you’re a real daredevil, there is even a composite page called Fusion. Most people don’t know that Resolve offers so much more. Name, for example, the Media Management tool.

Interface of Media Management in DaVinci Resolve

Say you’ve shot a MASSIVE documentary project, and the film is picture-locked. You can go into the MM tab and choose from many different ways to save only that timeline, which could be nice for a local copy. You can both ‘copy’ and ‘transcode’ the clips from the timeline. But – and this is where it gets interesting – you can keep the trim in place. Once you select this option, you see the final output drop exponentially. Now you can also choose how many frames ‘safety’ you want. As I trimmed all the clips at exactly 10 frames, that number would be 0. But I suggest leaving at least one second of safety when trimming the clips this way. To me, that would be 25 frames, as I live in the PAL region.

Okay, we drifted off-topic a bit. Sorry for that!

I hope you better understand what Grading Footage is and how to use it to improve your color grading skills!

Make sure to use the hashtag #gradingfootage on Instagram if you want to share your grades. I’d love to see what you’ve come up with.

Thanks for reading!

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Filmmaker, YouTuber & Founder of Filmmakers Community

Sjoerd Wess is a YouTuber and filmmaker who lives in the Netherlands, one of the flattest countries in the world. He initially studied sports but discovered his passion for filmmaking when he started skateboarding at the age of 13. Nowadays, his primary focus is on creating documentaries, national TV series, and thrilling outdoor projects like snowboarding and surfing.

To give back to the filmmaking community, Sjoerd founded the Filmmakers Community. It's a space where people can come together to learn from each other, share their work, clips, knowledge, and much more!