Once you’ve spent the time, finished the research and finally chosen the perfect stock footage, your work has only just begun. It is a major decision and a lot of work finding appropriate stock footage that will add value and clarity to your scenes. But that footage can’t just be pieced together haphazardly, or thrown into your project. There are a number of necessary steps that must be taken in order to perfectly blend stock footage into your video project.
Tone and Color Correcting
The selected b-roll should evoke emotion and further the telling of your story. The tone of the stock footage should align with your visual ideas and match your own movements. Once the proper selections have been made, it’s time to edit your footage. Most stock footage is color corrected already, but blending is useless without color calibration. Getting your video footage to the natural colors can be done by hand or by using automatic color correction software templates in a myriad suites.
The term actually came from the very literal definition of correcting problems of the underlying image and almost every shot will need corrective actions applied to it. When you’re DSLR filmmaking, color correction is the first pass in a color grading workflow and can be considered the broad strokes of blending as well. Your footage may need exposure or white balance problems fixed, or it may be too raw and need to be further “developed.” These problems can all be smoothed out by color correcting.
Once your footage is color corrected, the next step is to color match the b-roll. Adjusting the levels and curves will definitely help, but seamlessly blending your footage with the stock footage will take practice and strong comprehension of Adobe, Final Cut, DaVinci or whatever software you prefer. Regardless of your editing suite, focus on matching two pieces of footage by color matching each individual channel one at a time.
These techniques can be very helpful when you don’t have matched cameras either. If you’re shooting on 3 different cameras, or the cameras aren’t white balanced properly, these color matching techniques will increase the quality of your project, and make it seem as though everything was shot in the same mode or on identical cameras.
Adjusting sharpness is pretty obvious and a relatively easy fix. Often times, stock footage will be sharper than the footage shot on your camera. It will either need to be softened or your footage will need to be sharpened. Any editing suite will have these capabilities and they’re adjusted quite easily. Don’t overlook this step, just because it seems to be straightforward. Sharpness continuity is very important and any difference will be immediately noticeable to your viewers.
Color grading is the alteration and enhancement of the footage’s color, digitally, or photo-chemically. (Depending on what you’re shooting on and how you’re editing it, photo-chemical alterations don’t really happen much anymore). This step may be the most important when blending stock footage, as it affects the style of the footage. Stylizing a shot can indicate a flashback or re-creation or just make your project more unique and cohesive and help it to stand out for the right reasons.
Grading utilizes both color correction and coloring effects to enhance footage. It’s the process of changing the color properties in both your footage and b-roll to subtly make them look more similar.
Today, it’s sometimes known as Primary Color Correction, too. With the advent and development of suites like DaVinci Resolve, editing lingo has changed a bit. Primary color correction would happen earlier in the editing process when you’re adjusting your own footage, but when it comes to blending stock images into your video project it’s good to make adjustments to your own footage and then return to the stock and focus on blending those subtleties once again.
If the video project is lengthy or complex, hire (or convince someone to play the role of) a researcher, to focus on finding b-roll, organizing and presenting it. Using different clips from different sources can be expensive and the entire process can be very time consuming. Without excellent organization, and coordination between the editor, the post coordinator, supervisor, director and the producers, finding, using and blending stock footage can become a bit of a nightmare. Not to mention, if it isn’t blended well, your final result will be less than satisfactory.
Guest blog written by Katie Conlon from https://www.proamusa.com/