Yes, You Can Professionally Color Correct and Grade In Vegas


Grazie wrote on 2/12/2019, 11:20 AM

@fan-boy Great work and reporting. Thank you. I’m going to read and test at leisure.


PC 7 64-bit 16gb * Intel® Core™i7-2600k Quad Core 3.40GHz * 2GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 560 Ti

PC 10 64-bit 64gb * Intel® Core™i9 - 3.3GHz * 40Gb NVIDIA  GeForce RTX 2070

Cameras: Canon XF300 + PowerShot SX60HS Bridge

Marco. wrote on 2/12/2019, 12:39 PM

"A source image will typically have a very dense histogram of it's  RGB channels .  Doing too much color manipulation can cause these RGB densities of the histogram to become sparse\discrete looking , and the image usually will show color noise ."

Some background infos about the Vegas Pro histogram base.

Musicvid wrote on 2/12/2019, 11:05 PM

Would love to see a comparison of those low-mid-high numbers to the CC in Photoshop (but not enough to run it myself). I think it was actual gamma weighted transparency layers I added to my stills, not a base layer adjustment such as primary CC. Not sure, though, because I think I threw away the project.

Unfortunately, the log Histo graphic in Vegas, although I vastly prefer it to linear, is of such terrible resolution, errors in judgment have been made just by squishing it too much in the interface..

RogerS wrote on 2/13/2019, 2:32 AM

@fan-boy, Truthfully, people doing this work on computers with monitors are going to use tools, not just guess if something is neutral by eyeballing colors. Now with experience you can begin to see what the likely color cast is and how to neutralize it, and the data can confirm your suspicions. You may find color curves a more discrete tool than the 3 way color corrector with its preset ranges.

For "dense histogram," is this a log file? It is inherent to this type of file that you need to expand it back out for viewing. That will make the embedded noise more visible and obvious. With 8 bit files you may see banding or other artifacts with aggressive editing. To get the most out of the sensor, expose flat files to the right, and with 8-bit only cameras consider non-LOG formats (I use Cine2 on Sony, Cinelike-D on Panasonic) which are less prone to artifacts at the possible expense of losing some of the dynamic range of the source.

Musicvid wrote on 2/13/2019, 5:28 AM


It raises an interesting question. I like our log histo partly because it does reveal 8 bit shadow noise, so would flat log inflation look less "dense" in a linear scope? Sounds easy enough to test. Which begs the question: has the feature request to include an oldstyle linear histogram option been acted on in 16? I don't see it in 14, not that I have really looked...

Backing up to your first question, anyone who has calibrated monitors at the channel level knows that having an individual gamma off by even .02 in the wrong direction can hit you so hard you'll never know what it was, until you've backed out of it. When all we had were film layer masks, the rule was when you hit +/- .05 neutral gamma, your done for the day, and half that for any individual layer, because the linear index has such a powerful swing effect on the log curve.

I recall clearly .that in addition to setting my end points critically for this before / after goodie for another user, that my blue gamma was best at only 0.98.

For that reason, unless I've got all day, I stay away from individual curves entirely, knowing that most clients won't have critical color vision deeper than a tilt from an errant high endpoint. KISS, indeed, all though I am taken back by the artistic creativity being displayed by folks who have little knowledge of color theory.

For those just starting out, gamma is essentially just a curve with locked endpoints. Like a rubber band stretched between two pegs. And heckuva a lot safer to use in a production shop with deadlines.

As a theater producer also, the "Style vs. Substance" debate has loomed big with me my entire career in performing art. A turning point in my thinking occurred in college, while reading Poe's own critical self-essay on the penning of The Raven revealed clearly to me that Poe was first a technician and wordsmith, and from that structure derived his art. So is my being awake at 5 am thinking about this stuff say anything? Keep 'yer paint on the canvas, guys!

RogerS wrote on 2/13/2019, 8:51 AM

Here's Photoshop vs Vegas 16 on the first image I came across in a folder. Note that Vegas has the Studio RGB box unchecked on the histogram.

I'm curious as to how this histogram reveals more of anything than Photoshop? Can you show an example of it revealing 8-bit shadow noise or banding?

These threads get very technical very quickly, but I wonder to what end and for whose benefit? Doing basic white balance and color correction isn't so difficult and usually can be accomplished with fairly simple tools. It's doing it quickly, fixing problem images, or getting to the last .5% that requires more knowledge and experience. That's where those of us with expertise in an area could help newer people solve problems and get back to creating!

Musicvid wrote on 2/13/2019, 10:32 AM

I'm curious as to how this histogram reveals more of anything than Photoshop? Can you show an example of it revealing 8-bit shadow noise or banding?

I'm curious if the linear PS scopes reveal less noise and more signal to the eye, and if so, is it easier to interpret in context? I think down there in the murk, their significance may be far less than shown in Vegas' histo, but I know it gets noticed by guys like Nick, whose lighting stage goes from bright to nothing in the blink of an eye. And his early DV and HDV cameras were plagued by a new gremlin called digital noise, such as Difference tests show That's why starting with the last thread, the visuals will be accompanied by something we can all relate to, a Peak S/N graph on a 0-100% scale. [Shout Out to Wayne!] I could be dead wrong here, and there could be no "less-is-more" outcome. Looking at your PS image after coffee.

These threads get very technical very quickly, but I wonder to what end and for whose benefit? 

For me, Roger, it's just rehab.

That's where those of us with expertise in an area could help newer people solve problems and get back to creating!

Never done well in mainstream settings. That's why I cherish the late return of occasional clusters of technical artists who share experiences and visions at the benefit of newer people, who along with their future shining stars, dare to engage in and even initiate such discussions by dangling possibilities and yes, risk, to feed their own curiousity, not realizing quite who they are to become as role models and mentors in the 2020s. [end run-on sentence /]

That's the selfish version, and profoundly sorry for the graduation speech. Now, back to the real topic, I forgot ...?

Musicvid wrote on 2/13/2019, 12:25 PM


Unfortunately, the extreme left edges on your image are clipped, hiding the bottom % where the sharkies lurk. However, I think my project for the day is set until naptime.

If you got a garbled email, I'm training a new Android keyboard that just isn't getting it.

That said, the linear "humpiness" is quite pronounced in PS, or suppressed in the Vegas version, depending on your lateral compression vs vertical expansion perspective and purpose. This stuff is better than morning coffee. Thanks!

fan-boy wrote on 2/13/2019, 1:57 PM


The original image has a Tight RGB histogram , like you show . This one got banded\gapped at the high tones , where RGB curve was adjusted . Since not much going on in the high tones , any color noise there is no issue .

That image is for another thread here , just though it worked here too .

One burning question , that arose from this thread .

That advice to start with White Balance . Vegas FX plugin for that . then the next said step is to get the Tone correct . low mid high ..

What , in Vegas , is there to selectively adjust low-tones , mid-tones , high-tones ? so far , I can only see using Color Curves in RGB mode . is that right ?

Photoshop always talks about adjusting the Shadows . Here , in Vegas , seems the only way is to adjust low-tones\Shadows is with Color Curves in RGB mode . is that right ?

Color Curves is a powerful tool . just want to make sure I am not missing something here .


P.S. saved that Curve Preset . found in OFX folder , backed it up . ( not sure if I ever need to reuse that )

OldSmoke wrote on 2/13/2019, 3:55 PM

How about Color Balance?

Proud owner of Sony Vegas Pro 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13 and now Magix VP15&16.

System Spec.:
Motherboard: ASUS X299 Prime-A

Ram: G.Skill 4x8GB DDR4 2666 XMP

CPU: i7-9800x @ 4.6GHz (custom water cooling system)
GPU: 1x AMD Vega Pro Frontier Edition (water cooled)
Hard drives: System Samsung 970Pro NVME, AV-Projects 1TB (4x Intel P7600 512GB VROC), 4x 2.5" Hotswap bays, 1x 3.5" Hotswap Bay, 1x LG BluRay Burner

PSU: Corsair 1200W
Monitor: 2x Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM (2560x1440)

fr0sty wrote on 2/13/2019, 4:40 PM

Yes, color balance allows you to separate your shadows/mids/highs when adjusting.

RogerS wrote on 2/13/2019, 5:41 PM

I think step 2 is to use levels or curves while watching the waveform or histogram to get the image to cover the full output tonal range, and then curves to get nice tonal separation and make the image look as intended (e.g. if it's a low key image, knock the mids and shadows way down).

If you ETTR expose to the right this step will take more time. If it's just a slightly flat file, lighten highlights and darken shadows to fill the histogram and get good tonal separation.

RogerS wrote on 2/13/2019, 6:16 PM

Another comparison with a 21 step grayscale wedge with white borders.

RogerS wrote on 2/13/2019, 6:47 PM

@fan-boy, if I had more time I'd show actual examples. My effects chain might be levels (expand blacks/whites), curves (fix the contrast), color balance or curves (fix overall color balance), and a few selective hue or secondary color correctors (fix individual colors). I generally set white balance in camera when I shoot so it doesn't need more than tweaks.

If the Vegas white balance tool fails, moving the midpoint of color curves on 1-2 channels can help with casts. The other day I helped someone with a big incandescent red cast by moving the midpoint of the red channel down (well diagonally down-right) dramatically. If you had an isolated cast, like green shadows due to foliage, you could lock down the mid point and highlights by creating points, and then try to reduce the color cast/ add in the complementary color using a point in the shadows. The three way color correctors can do this too, it's just less isolated.

A couple of other tools: if you have a white balance card, use it and shoot it first in your scene. I like ones with at least 3 patches for darks, midtones and lights. The X-Rite Colorchecker photo or video passports (I use photo) are nice and have a protective case. That will help later as you will have a reference for neutrals.

If you need help with the tonal curve, it also provides a hint as you have three neutral points. On the passport, the hinge area might give you something close to absolute black to help you set black points. Or use the inside of a lens cap or something else dark.

For colors, if you like your camera's look you may not need to do much selective color tweaking. When I want to make a sky less cyan or tweak skin tones, I may use the selective hue or secondary color corrector in custom to just target the color I want to change and tweak hue and saturation. "Show mask" helps you just select the troublesome colors.

For matching cameras of different brands, I sometimes have to spend quite a bit of time in this tool to selectively tweak multiple colors. As this is not a great use of my time, I recently sprung for the Leeming LUT pro by Paul Leeming as it's affordable and he standardizes various cameras' output using a very expensive color chart and correction tools.
I also recommend his Facebook group as it's filmmakers giving each other advice on use of the LUT and color correction in general. Paul recently posted what ETTR looks like for a very low-key final image, and I helped the fellow with a terrible red cast on that group.

fan-boy wrote on 2/13/2019, 7:18 PM



Color Balance : just looked at it . it does have a combo box for low mid high selection . That is still NOTt like Photoshop ,... adjusting the shadow gray tone values without color being involved ( most likely lumens values of less then 100 ) . Parametric Equalization for video .

from this post , directions of remove any cast with White Balance FX . Next adjust gray scale tones ? as far as I know , Photoshop can do this . Vegas Brightness and Contrast always operates on the Full tonal range 0 to 255 i can only see one tool to use in Vegas ,... Color Curves with RGB to get at the gray tonal values .

it seems there are many techniques in Vegas that I am un-aware of , and how to use the FX . just wanted at least to get the first 2 steps in place . White Balance\cast removal if needed . then Color curves RGB to adjust Tone Then adjust color with more Color Curves , one for each channel ( that's 4 Color Curves total ) , and maybe with multiple Color Correction FX wheels too . Still getting the paws wet .

I did watch a youtube video on Davinci Resolve 15 , looked like they adjusted low-tone shadows there , independent of mid-tones and high-tones . Then they adjusted high-tones . lastly they situated the mid-tones .To do that in Vegas seems like only Color Curves in RGB mode will work .

I have heard of LUTs . I would like to have or make\duplicate Color Curves , and have their Presets saved for re-use . some Classic Curve shapes are needed . Again , I am at a loss for what these curves might look like , in order to replicate them . I thought making special Curves is what restoes proper exposure of certain compressed camera formats ,...I donna know .

Musicvid wrote on 2/13/2019, 7:52 PM

With integer leveling you can lock the blacks (uppie wiper blade) or whites (downie wiper blade) first. If shooting WB is correct and blacks are reasonable, no real need to do either. Camera people tend to work from top to bottom. If blacks are not clipped I tend to work from bottom to top, it's a matter of choice.

RogerS wrote on 2/11/2019, 6:56 PM

For grading, start with white balance, overall contrast (get the tones in the right place), then selective color correction 

 Musicvid wrote on 1/16/2019, 11:17 AM

. I set black anchor levels first, then white balance, then individual midtone gammas

Either approach is valid depending on which end seems to need the least correction, I suppose.

RogerS wrote on 2/13/2019, 8:09 PM

I would not touch brightness and contrast, only levels or curves.

Where Resolve, Premiere, etc. beat Vegas is that they have tools to reduce contrast by brightening shadows or darkening highlights. Curves can easily increase contrast but reducing it can yield odd flat areas. That said, in video if you shoot flat you may not need to brighten shadows or darken highlights.

I think you probably don't need that many color curves to fix white balance issues (get R=G=B in neutral areas). In my photography training we edited multiple channels on a single curve to do overall white balancing.

For tonal corrections the simplest curve shape is an S curve where you bring down shadows and bring up highlights. It looks like an S. This increases overall image contrast and lets you pick how much of the shadows remains visible and how bright the highlights are. Make a point on the curve to lock down mid-tones, and then another in deep shadows and drag down to darken shadows, for example.

Look Up Tables can do anything- changing color hues, saturation, changing tones, etc. If you are shooting LOG, you probably want some kind of log to linear correction LUT (usually available free from the camera manufacturer) so you don't have to do everything by hand, especially with Vegas's limited tool set.
There are other LUTs for sale that alter colors to create preset looks.
The Leeming LUT I mentioned just takes out the manufacturers' color peculiarities/looks out of their files and brings them back to standard REC 709 video. It's a time-saver if you just want a neutral starting point without much effort.

RogerS wrote on 2/13/2019, 8:11 PM

With integer leveling you can lock the blacks (uppie wiper blade) or whites (downie wiper blade) first. If shooting WB is correct and blacks are reasonable, no real need to do either. Camera people tend to work from top to bottom, if blacks are not clipped I tend to work from bottom to top, it's a matter of choice.

RogerS wrote on 2/11/2019, 6:56 PM

For grading, start with white balance, overall contrast (get the tones in the right place), then selective color correction 

 Musicvid wrote on 1/16/2019, 11:17 AM

. I set black anchor levels first, then white balance, then individual midtone gammas

Either approach is valid depending on which end seems to need the least correction, I suppose.

That's a good point for thinking about the order.

For me, I think it is "fix the biggest problem first." If the white balance is a mess and everything is orange, fix that before trying to assess tones. If the image is really flat or dark, fix the tones before trying to judge color.

Musicvid wrote on 2/13/2019, 8:47 PM

Maybe a better way for me to think about it is " Is the camera white balance good or not?

I fix a lot of faded red color prints from the eighties, maybe that's why I tend to fixate on the blacks first. I do see I did this one in Vegas.

Setting the red black point in Vegas.

You can see my conservative nature in that work, too. Nothing looks worse to me than "flipping the whites" too drastically.

The redness is caused by leuco (missing) cyan dye in the old print, and cannot be fixed fully without access to the negative or slide.

AVsupport wrote on 2/14/2019, 12:22 AM

The tools one requires may well depend on how things have been shot and how they are being delivered. If you shoot in 709 with a standard colour gamut you may well be happy with the standard correction tools in VP. If you are shooting in different gamma curves (Cine, LOG) to preserve dynamic range, you may want to use other tools that are suited to this better, as you will need to correct gamma and gamut (perhaps)

Gamma correction is a big one for me [shooting Cine4], given I've done my homework and white balance is OK, and exposure is OK. First, I expand/compress the gamma to suit the scene dynamic range, Then comes adjusting/optimizing the image by pushing the highlights and shadows to the max into 709, and adjusting midtone point to suit.

The nice thing about Cine4 apart being 8-bit friendly is the higher dynamic range it can digest before breaking apart because of limited data information in highlights/shadows, and the ease of curve being more '709-style-grading' friendly. Some good reading here from the guru Alister himself


my current Win10/64 system (latest drivers, water cooled) :

Intel Coffee Lake i5 Hexacore (unlocked, but not overclocked) 4.0 GHz on Z370 chipset board,

16GB (2x8GB Corsair Dual Channel DDR4-2133) XMP-3000 RAM,

Intel 600series 512GB M.2 SSD system drive running Win10/64 home automatic driver updates,

4TB 7200RPM NAS HGST data drive,

Intel HD630 iGPU - currently disabled in Bios,

nVidia GTX1060 6GB, always on latest [creator] drivers. nVidia HW acceleration enabled.

main screen 4K/50p 1ms scaled @175%, second screen 1920x1080/50p 1ms.

fr0sty wrote on 2/14/2019, 12:40 AM

Specifically, what do these other tools do that Vegas doesn't?

Musicvid wrote on 2/14/2019, 8:04 AM

Continuing the scope preferences discussion, Photoshop's histo gives no additional clues about shadow noise except that it is expressed vertically as opposed to laterally.

One more thing I now know doesn't work.

fan-boy wrote on 2/15/2019, 8:53 PM

update , 1 added pic FrOsty was right about the gamma 2.2222 setting . learned something . The first image uses Project setting 32 bit Full with gamma 2.2222 , and 128 is in the middle . 8 bit and 32 bit ( Video Levels ) has gamma Fixed at 2.2222 and both of those graphs have 128 in the middle . 32 bit Full with gamma at 1.0000 Linear is NOT a linear graph ..

I took a screen shot of the 32 gray squares . Eye dropper shows every square has True RGB levels , thus anyone can full screen , "Shift Print Screen" it .

I have expanded the gray bars increment to 8 , to include the range 0 to 248 plus 255 .

The main point of this Post was to see where "128" is on the Curve's graph . Not what I expected . Looks like about 2/3's of the graph works on range 255 to 128 . and 1/3 of graph works on 128 to 0 .

Since Curves is the best thing going with Vegas for custom Tone adjusting , Curve's dialogue needs to be enlarged , with digit boxes , to make it a better tool . And what ever else anyone knows of .

I was making a symmetrical S curve , but now , seeing that 128 is way low on the graph etc ,...Not sure what to think now , about making custom curves for reuse . keep chipping away .

Musicvid wrote on 2/15/2019, 9:09 PM

That looks a lot like a bug. With no scale indices, it's not making much sense.

Where are those same mileposts located on the histogram?