Color Correcting / Grading Drone Footage

There is no doubt drone footage is great, but colors always seem bland. The raw video is usually low in contrast, low in saturation, and too high/low exposure. How do you fix this? By using a video editor to color correct/grade. These two terms are often misused. Color correcting is fixing the colors to how they really should appear. Color grading is enhancing the color and possibly putting an extra tint on it. Movies use color grading all the time to convey a certain feeling (red in romances, blue I’m action films, etc.).

Color grading can make the same footage convey different feelings

Color grading can make the same footage convey different moods

As shown in the header of the article, I usually Sony Vegas Pro to make these changes. I have also tried Premier Pro, which is a good editor too. However, I find Vegas Pro to have slightly quicker rendering times on my computer. Both programs  have the same basic color correcting options. The major changes include: contrast, brightness, highlights, midlights, lowlights, saturation, and sharpness. I also often put a soft vignette around my videos to help the viewer focus on the center of the video.

In the video below I have a comparison of some Phantom 3 Standard footage before and after color correction/grading. I added blue tint on the video to convey a ‘cool temperature’ feeling to it. I also increased the contrast and saturation (which almost always needs to be done). As you can see, a little editing can go a long way.