After encountering truly nitty gritty color grading challenges that no simple tool can solve, I had to go back to DaVinci Resolve in the end. To be clear, for color grading, not for everything. I create a LUT in Resolve, then use it to grade all my footage in Shotcut. For 2 to 5 click quick color grades, Color.io has a lot of potential, but for the crap I have to deal with, I need full control. For example, in my footage there are weird green shadow color artifacts right next to red artifacts. None of these colors exist in nature, but the camera sensor isn’t great in low light and adds such junk. So it’s my challenge to get rid of them. Only with magic-wand style selection tools can I target these color artifacts to reduce them - referred to as “Qualifiers” in DaVinci Resolve. Otherwise, with curves, levels, color balance and other traditional tools, the entire image will be affected.
To give a small idea, here’s what I have to deal with. Granted, this is a consumer level 360 camera, and not a pro camera with a huge sensor, so this junk is expected in low light. But I find it so ugly as to be unacceptable and worth attempting to fix.
original flat log footage, before any correction:
after doing general correction that looks good for the well-lit areas of the footage:
You might think, “Oh, there’s tons of moss on those rocks, and that’s why they are green.” Nope, not in this case. It’s simply how the sensor badly captures color data in low light. It’s highly compressed and generally lossy. The only way to get rid of those unsightly color casts without affecting other unintended areas (like red things and green trees/plants) is to use very fine-tuned masking techniques. Again, this is done through the Qualifier tool in DaVinci Resolve - and MANY nodes in the filter tree.
Here’s my final graded result:
To the untrained eye, this final result might look very similar to the original flat log footage. But these shadows aren’t intended to be a rainbow. They are dark in reality. Normal color grading tools create the nasty red and green rainbow in the shadows, and only advanced tools can tame them back to normal hues without distorting color elsewhere in the image.
It takes hours of painstaking trial and error to come up with these LUTs in DaVinci Resolve, but only DaVinci Resolve can do it. There are no other tools that I’m aware of that can perform this kind of color grading surgery. Unless you break your entire movie into thousands of individual photos and edit them individually in Photoshop, GIMP, or the like! Ha, that would be ridiculous!
I realize this is not Shotcut related, but I think it’s important to discuss. Perhaps in the future, as Shotcut continues to advance, such things will be possible. Most of us freeware and open source enthusiasts know when to combine different tools to achieve particular results in the most efficient and least stressful manner. As things are right now, I have to use Shotcut for my overall editor, so this isn’t an advertisement for DaVinci Resolve. The capabilities and tools in Shotcut are great for what I need it to do.
And NO, color.io cannot do what I just showed in the demo images - at least not with ease. That’s why I had to go back to DaVinci Resolve to do the color grading.