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Hannibal is one of the movie series where the color grading plays a large part in the post production process. I’m always impressed how they use color to change the mood and how this affects the perception of the show.

Reverse engineering

I thought to myself – if I could revert the grading process and restore more natural look that came out from the camera, I would automatically learn how the grading was achieved.

I took a few screenshots from one of the episodes from the second season, and started playing around with color adjustments. Here’s what I got:


Obviously my before versions are not what came out from the camera, but at least it removed the final stylised look. The whole colour correction and grading process was certainly much more complex to reach my before stage, but I’m pretty sure that if I saw the raw footage straight from the camera I would be impressed as well. So why does the show look so good? It’s all about the lighting and the production design that makes the show look fantastic. The grading is just one ingredient, and even if our grading skills are phenomenal without good lighting and well prepared set we are not going to achieve beautiful pictures.

A few more

Here are a few more from the first season, as I had an impression the color grading was a bit different before. It seems that the same techniques were used, however in the second season they pushed the color grading a bit more.

Tools used

The only tool I used was Colorista II plugin from the Red Giant. All I did was move the color wheels around. Some of the examples above were achieved by this settings:

If we apply the opposite settings on a natural balanced image, we should get something similar to what we see on the show (assuming our lighting and production design is on the same level… ).

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