How to get the Joker Look | In 3 steps in the Color Grade

How to get the Joker Look | In 3 steps in the Color Grade

February 8, 2020 52 By Sebastian Fry


Hey guys Denver Riddle with you here… welcome
again to Color Grading Central’s youtube channel. I want to give thanks to all those who have
subscribed, we’ve just now surpassed the 150k mark, so thank you for making that possible
and for making this the number one color grading channel on youtube. In this video we’re going to create the
Joker look! Today I want to reveal to you how to achieve
the look of one of the most popular films of 2019. This film was an amazing surprise, a breath
of fresh air for the super hero genre and everyone went nuts about this look. The look I’m describing to you is the look
in the film Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix!!! This is going to be advanced tutorial so if
you want to get a step-by-step guide in color grading then check out our free 1 hour online
color grading workshop. There will be a link for it in the description. And if you’re looking for something a little
easier to master and still get the same results then check out our Cinema Grade plugin for
the Mac. Now just some things that went into creating
the look of Joker it was shot digitally on an array of ARRI ALEXA cameras… namely the
Alexa 65, Alexa LF and the Alexa Mini. But Lawrence Sher, the director of photography
and the colorist Jill Bogdanowicz wanted to a make gritty and retro look like it was captured
on film. But, how can we achieve this look in just
a few quick steps? Well obviously we’re not going to be able
to create this kind of look with every possible kind of shot. So it is going to take some advanced planning
such as choosing the right locations, lightning and art direction that best matches with the
film. The film is described as having a contrasty
look with lots of dark interiors, really dark shadows to the point where we’re losing
detail, it has mixed lighting, always playing with warm vs cool, lots of yellows and oranges
vs blues and greens, a lot of color casts over the actors… in fact the film primarily
uses a teal and orange color palette that relies heavily on the art direction and the
lighting to create that color scheme. Having said that, there is a lot that we can
still do in the color grade to achieve this look. As a reference shot, I’ve selected this
image from the film. It gives us a nice view of the main character,
it has lots of contrast created through lighting, the teal/orange look already present thanks
to the art direction, and there is no heavy cast of a specific color on our actor, giving
us a more natural looking skin tone. And this is gonna be the image that we’re
going to work with to apply our Joker look to. At first glance it can look way different,
but it has a lot of the same elements. The background is clearly much darker than
the foreground, there is rich natural contrast, with shadows at the right side of the characters
face and a strong key light on his left. He is also dressed in warm colors, just like
Joaquin Phoenix in our reference image. Now I’m going to share with you how to do
this in DaVinci, Premiere and Final Cut so I’ve included time stamps here for your
software. You can either skip the playhead forward to
that point or if you’re on a desktop you can simply click on the time stamp in the
description. Alright, so let’s start with Resolve. First we want to compare both images side
by side, let’s do that with the split screen view. Now in this view we can compare both images
and their scopes. Looking at the waveform our target image is
overexposed compared to the joker shot. So let’s use the curves to dial in the right
amount of exposure and contrast. I’ll create points for the overtones and
undertones and bring them down… and finally move the shadows to the right. Now the exposure matches. Next dial in the the color. I’ll create a new node and we’ll us the
color wheels. The reference has a lot of cyan in the shadows
so let’s push some cyan into the image with the lift wheel. We can use the RGB parade scope as a guide
to identify the difference in color and see how the traces begin to match as we move the
color wheels. Next we’ll add some green to the highlights
with the gain wheel… and a little bit of red with the gamma wheel. Let’s see the before and after a few times…
and you’ll notice that the traces look more alike now. Next, we want to recover some of the warm
tones that were lost because of all the cyan and green we introduced into the shadows and
highlights. For that we’ll add a parallel node and use
the qualifier to isolate just those colors. Basically what we’re isolating here is a
part of the shirt and all the warm backlight hitting our actor. Now we’ll use the offset wheel to add some
of that orange back. And now we’re done, the exposure and contrast
match, the colors match… but there is something more we can do to bring these two even closer
together. Our reference image has a light on the right
side illuminating the background and giving us a strong cyan color cast, while the left
side is in shadows. Let’s try recreate that in our shot. We’ll add a new node, add a rectangular
window and position it like so… and add some feathering. Then we’ll bring the shadows up with the
lift control and add in some cyan with the offset control. Then we’ll create a parallel node… add
a rectangular window and position it on the left side. We’ll then bring the highlights and midtones
down with the color wheels… and the shadows up with the lift control. Let’s take at the before and after. That’s amazing!!! We did this with just 3 node for contrast
and color and 2 additional nodes for relighting!!! Now if any of this seemed overwhelming to
you and you want to be guided every step of the way through DaVinci Resolve then I recommend
attending our free online color grading workshop where we start at the basics plus you’ll
get a chance to enroll in our color grading Academy specific to Resolve so you can feel
confident in the color grade. You can register by clicking the link in the
card above or I’ll have a link in the description. Alright now here in Adobe Premiere. First we’ll want to compare both the images
side by side, so we’ll do that with the Comparison View in the Color Wheels & Match
section of the Lumetri Color Panel. Now we can compare both images and their scopes. Looking at the waveform our target image is
overexposed compared to the joker shot. So we’ll use the curves to dial in the correct
exposure. We’ll create points for the overtones, midtones
and undertones and bring them down. Then move the shadows to the right and bring
the highlights down a bit too. Now our exposure matches. Next we’ll dial in the color. Now we could to this in the same instance
of lumetri but I like to have every correction in a separate instance of lumetri so I can
show you the before and after of each step, so let’s add a new instance of lumetri and
go to the rgb curves. We can use the RGB parade scope as a guide
to identify the differences in color and see how the traces begin to match as we modify
the curves. The reference of Joker has a lot of cyan in
the shadows and a little warmth in the highlights; so with the blue curve selected we’ll add
blue to the shadows and bring them down on the highlights, making sure that the midtones
stay in place. Looking at the RGB parade scope, we can see
some green in the highlights so let’s select the green curve… and move the highlights
point to the left while keeping the midtones and shadows in their place. Finally for the red channel we need to add
red to the highlights while subtracting them from the shadows. Let’s see the before and after. Ok, so now we’ve got the skin tones looking
good, and we’ve introduced some cool tones into the shadows but they’re not strong
enough and we’re losing the warm tones on the shirt. So let’s add another instance of lumetri
and with the hue vs sat curves we’ll add saturation to green, cyan and blue ranges
as well as the orange. This will help us give the skin tones a little
bit of a pop. And just as a final touch we’ll use the
hue vs hue curve to move those oranges a little bit towards red… and the cyan just a little
bit towards green…. There! Now we are talking!!! Let’s see the before and after. The exposure and contrast match, the colors
match, but there is something else we can do to bring images even closer together. In the reference with Joker there’s a light
on the right side illuminating the background and giving it a strong cyan cast, while the
left side is in shadows. Let’s recreate this in our shot. We’ll add another instance of lumetri, add
a rectangular mask…position it like so… and add some feathering. With the basic correction tools we’ll bring
the exposure up… and do this also with the white and black sliders, and this creates
for us an illusion of an additional light casting over the background. Then let’s just tint the light. For that we’ll use the temperature and tint
sliders to give it a cyan tone. Then add some saturation. For the other side let’s add another instance
of lumetri and create a mask for the left side. This time we’ll use the shadows slider to
make the area darker and again we’ll tint it with some cyan using the temperature and
tint slider and finish it off with a saturation boost. With the comparison view enabled let’s see
the before and after. It’s amazing how with 3 quick corrections
with the luma curve, rgb curves and hue saturation curves we can create the look and also effectively
relight the scene with 2 additional instances of Lumetri. Now if any of this seemed overwhelming to
you and you’d like to be guided every step of the way in your color grading then I recommend
signing up for our free online color grading workshop where we start at the fundamentals
and you’ll get a chance to enroll in our color grading Academy so you can feel confident
in the color grade. You can register by clicking the link in the
card above or I’ll have a link in the description. Alright now on to Final Cut Pro X. First we want to compare both images side
by side so let’s do that with the Comparison Viewer. Now we can compare both images and their scopes
simultaneously. Looking at the waveform our image is overexposed
compared to the joker shot. So let’s use the curves to dial in the correct
exposure. We’ll add the Color Curves Effect… and
in the Luma Curve we’ll create points for the overtones, midtones and undertones and
bring them down. Now our exposure matches. Next we’ll dial in the color. For that we’ll use the red, green and blue
curves. We can use the RGB parade scope (vectorscope)
as a guide to identify the difference in color and see how the traces begin to match as we
move the point in the curves. The reference image has lots of cyan in the
shadows, so we’ll bring up the bottom point on the blue curve introducing blue into the
shadows and create a point for the midtones and drag it down to keep the blues out of
the midtones. The shadows also need some green too, so we’ll
drag up the bottom point for the green shadows, and looking at the rgb parade scopes we see
we need to bring the green undertones down a little bit and the midtones up. For the red curve we’ll reduce red in the
the shadows and undertones by dragging them down and a bit in the midtones too. Let’s see the before and after. We are almost there but the shadows are a
bit too green, we’ll want to push them towards cyan and give the warm tones some extra pop. For that we’ll add the hue/saturation curves
effect. And First we’ll use the hue vs sat curve
to add saturation to the cyan and orange tones… while bringing down the red tones a little. Then in the hue vs hue curve we’ll drag
the orange and yellow tones towards red… and the cyan tones a little more towards blue. Now our color palette is really matching the
one from Joker. As a final touch, do you see the highlights
on Joaquin’s forehead? Compared it to the forehead in our shot. Ours look yellowish so to fix that we’ll
use the luma vs sat curve and bring down the saturation in the highlights… and a little
in the midtones as well. And now we are done, the exposure and contrast
match, the colors match, but there is something else we can do to bring both images even closer. Our reference of Joker has a light on the
right side of the frame illuminating the background and giving it a strong cyan color cast, while
the left side of the frame is in the shadows. Let’s recreate this effect in our shot. We’ll add a color wheels effect, create
a shape mask and position it like so… I’ll then add some feathering for good measure. We’ll then bring the shadows up with the
shadows wheel. And add some cyan with the master wheel. Then let’s add another instance of the color
wheels effect, create a shape mask for the left side and bring the midtones down a bit. Let’s take a look at the before and after. It’s amazing how with only 2 color effects:
the color curves and the hue/saturation curves we can quickly achieve this look, plus effectively
relight the scene using shape masks. Now to summarize this you can see how close
we’ve been able to get a Hollywood look with the right tools and knowledge. If you like what you’ve seen and would like
to expand upon it we have our Color Grading Academy specific to your software where we
reveal everything you need to know to set the look of your films apart. You can find out more about the Academy by
attending our free online color grading workshop, where we reveal our top color grading secrets
and we’ll have a special offer for the Academy at the end of the presentation. You’ll see a link to register for the free
web class in the description. And if you feel like the built-in tools are
just too complicated or overwhelming to master then I invite you to take a look at a Cinema
Grade. It’s an intuitive grading plugin designed
for Content Creators who don’t have the time to specialize as a colorist but still
need a professional look with on screen color grading, lightroom style color controls, false
color mode for getting the perfect exposure and real time previews of LUTs and presets. If you want to find out more about the Cinema
Grade Plugin, I’ll also have a link for it in the description below. So be sure to save your seat, explore Cinema
Grade if it’s closer to what you’re looking for. If you haven’t already click the subscribe
button and then the bell for more content like this. Let us know what you think of this video in
the comments below and enjoy the rest of your day 🙂