Achieve proper skin tones by adjusting the white balance in your footage and monitoring the skin tone line in Adobe Premiere Pro.
Man holds tablet computer showing interview of a man talking and caption that reads, 'My hope is that everyone feels welcome'

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Shooting video without first properly setting the white balance of the camera often results in scenes with a noticeable color cast. For example, shooting outdoors when your camera is set for typically warmer indoor lighting can yield shots that look cold and tinted slightly blue.

Because your eyes can fool you into thinking that colors look normal, rely on the objective tools in the Lumetri Scopes panel instead. Starting in the Editing workspace, make the Project panel active, choose File > New > Adjustment Layer, and accept the default values in the dialog box that appears. Drag the adjustment layer from the Project panel to the Timeline panel, above the clips in your sequence. Trim the layer to overlap all the clips in your sequence that need color adjusting.

Adobe Premiere Pro shows the Editing workspace, the Adjustment Layer dialog box, and a selected adjustment layer

Switch to the Color workspace and make the Lumetri Scopes panel active. Click the wrench icon at the bottom of the panel and choose Vectorscope YUV and Parade RGB in succession from the menu. (You can display as many scopes as you wish, as well as change their order.) You’ll see right away how the scopes confirm that there’s a color cast in the clip. For example, one color channel may dominate the other two in the Parade RGB scope; or the Vectorscope YUV line, which plots the hue and saturation of every pixel, may skew toward one of the colored boxes in the circle graph.

Parade RGB and Vectorscope YUV scopes appear in the Lumetri Scopes panel, confirming a blue color cast in the clip

Set the playhead on a frame containing something that should appear white and then select the adjustment layer. In the Basic Correction section of the Lumetri Color panel, click the WB Selector eyedropper and then click the white object in the Program Monitor. A white shirt, sign, or piece of paper often does the trick. The Temperature and Tint sliders in the Lumetri Color panel will immediately adjust to show the new white balance setting. The Parade RGB scope in the Lumetri Scopes panel will likewise show more balanced color channels.

Parade RGB and Vectorscope YUV scopes appear in the Lumetri Scopes panel, indicating more balanced color in the clip

If your clip contains a face or any exposed skin, you’ll see that the Vectorscope YUV graph shows an angled line that follows the –i axis. This skin tone line appears for all people regardless of their skin color. (It literally represents the color of blood flowing through the skin.) To confirm the skin tone line for your shot, apply the Crop effect to the adjustment layer and then adjust the Left, Top, Right, and Bottom values in the Effect Controls panel until only the person’s skin shows through.

Crop effect on the adjustment layer shows a portion of a person’s face in the Program Monitor

Now you’ll see a clearly defined skin tone line in the Vectorscope YUV scope that originates at the center and moves along the –i axis toward the line separating Y and R. After you’re happy with your results, delete the Crop effect in the Effect Controls panel. 

Small area of person’s skin in the Program Monitor shows the skin tone line in the Lumetri Scopes panel

When you become skilled at reading the scopes in the Lumetri Scopes panel, you’ll find that you can accomplish most of your color correction without even looking at the Program Monitor. 

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09/02/2020

Adobe Stock contributors: icsnaps, jes2uphoto

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