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4 Elements to Professionally Colour-Grading Commercials

The workflow approach to a commercial is much different than a narrative film or tv series. The first main difference is certainly in size, with 12-20 shots for a broadcast commercial vs 1200-2000 for a feature film. It’s vital for commercial clients to dedicate as much time as possible to these 12-20 shots, since its something that will be broadcast continuously in a period of time and shown to millions of people.

Another difference is aesthetic. Commercials usually have very bright, saturated images while the narrative approach is vastly different. There seems to be a bit more freedom in narrative and each shot gets less attention than a commercial shot.

Watch Post City's Senior Colourist Christos Evangelou Commercial Colouring Reel below:

1. The Creative Element to Colour-Grading Commercials

On one hand, there is the approach to the creative, establishing the look. Certainly most of it has been created in camera, however, the role of a colourist is to provide options and show the potential of the shots. Once the look has been established, it’s about applying it throughout and making the correct adjustments.

Nestle Turtles Commercial colour-graded

2. The Technical aspect of Colour-Grading Commercials

At the same time, there is also the technical part of the image that needs attention. Saturation, gamma, hue shifts, taking care of blown-out highlights (this is where Baselight’s Texture Highlight does a superb job!), and correct video/data levels have to be up to specification.

Buick Commercial colour-graded

3. Communication with Commercial Clients & Brands

Another very important part of the process is the communication with the director/DOP, and, of course, the client. There is a pleasant challenge to keep a good balance there. You have to be able to listen to the client and provide solutions.

Color-grading suite with theatre couches

Sessions are long, sometimes it might even take a second day for a commercial grade. It's imperative to have a suite where clients can feel comfortable, have clean air to breath, drinks and food on demand, unobstructed viewing angles and timely breaks to reset their eyes.

4. The Hardware used to Colour-Grade

Filmlight Baselight colouring suite at Post City

Last but not least, the system used (hardware/software solution) plays a significant role in the outcome. Filmlight Baselight is amongst the best colour grading and finishing systems in the world, with superior colour science and deep tools. Our Senior Colourist Chris commented: “For me personally, Baselight works flawlessly. It supports my creative intent, it never chokes under pressure, thus enabling me to work fast-especially with the use of the Blackboard 2- and provides me with an array of tools that are accurate, deep and continuously improving.

Learn more about the The FilmLight Baselight Colour Grading System at Post City:


POST CITY Picture & Sound is a full-service film, television and commercial post-production company located in the heart of Toronto's Film District with IMAX™, Dolby™, and THX™ certification for Theatrical, Broadcast, and Digital releases. We are the leading boutique facility offering professional post-production services. Contact us for a screening and sound demonstration in our state of the art facility.


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