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In this course, author Robbie Carman details the principles of color grading in Final Cut Pro X, while explaining how to enhance and stylize footage. The course spells out the differences between primary and secondary corrections and demonstrates fixing problematic footage with contrast corrections and neutralizing color casts. The course also discusses secondary corrections with shape and color masks and explains how to make projects broadcast safe. Additional topics include evaluating clips using the video scopes, and how to create stylized looks.
So when I saw the Color Board in Final Cut Pro X, one of the features that I was immediately drawn to was the Saturation Pane. In previous versions of Final Cut Pro you were limited to how you controlled saturation. For example, in the Color Corrector 3- Way in Final Cut Pro 7, you could control master overall saturation but not shadow or highlight saturation. To do that, you had to use additional filters or effects. Well, in Final Cut Pro X, the Saturation panel of the Color Board allows you to control saturation in very detailed ways, and that's exactly what we're going to talk about in this movie.
Let's take a look at this first clip. We've actually seen this shot before but this is a different take, and this take actually kind of looks flat and, well, kind of de-saturated. But remember, it's always a good idea to verify what your eyes are telling you by taking a look at the video scopes. So to access the scopes I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut Command+7. Once the scopes open up, let me come into the Settings menu right here and choose to display the Vectorscope. Remember, the Vectorscope is the principal tool that we have to display overall hue and saturation information about a shot. Let me just select the shot down here in the Timeline and now we can see some trace up here in the Vectorscope.
Remember, on the Vectorscope, the distance out from the center to the edge of the scope represents saturation, and so with a lot of trace sort of clumped here in the center of the scope I can verify that this clip is rather de-saturated, but we can actually fix this making a correction on the Color Board. So to activate the Color Board I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut Command+6 to jump directly to the Color Board. Once on the Color Board, of course, I can click between these different panes but I can also access the panes by using keyboard shortcuts. So to activate the Saturation Pane what I'm going to do is use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Command+S, S for Saturation.
For this shot, I'm going to fix it by using the Global or a Master Saturation Control, this guy right here. What I'm going to do is click and drag up to saturate the shot, and notice on the Vectorscope that the trace now extends further towards the edges of the shot. If I were to drag down I'd de-saturate the shot and the trace would be clumped up towards the center of the scope. But for this shot we want to saturate it quite a bit. Okay, that's looking pretty good. Let me press Command+7 and then Command+ 7 again to totally clear the scopes, and then on the Color Board here let me click the Back button to go back to the main level of the Inspector.
And right here where it says Correction 1--remember every shot has a default correction, Correction 1--I'm going to toggle this correction on and off. So here's the shot before the correction. The shot looks kind of flat, kind of dull and de-saturated, and here's the shot after the correction. It's much better. Okay, let's go down to the next clip in this Timeline. And here I have a shot that looks okay but one of the things that's bothering me about it is if you look closely, you'll notice through the windows here and then on the table right here, we appear to have sort of a pinky red color cast, but again let's use the scopes to verify that.
So I'll press Command+7 to open up the scopes and then in the Settings menu I'll choose to display the Waveform scope. And then I want to choose to display the Waveform scope using the RGB Parade option. So let me go ahead and select the clip again down here in the Timeline. And here on the RGB Parade I can see the overall color balance in the clip between the red, green, and blue channels. And remember that the Waveform scope with any of the options uses a scale that goes from 0 or black up to 100% or white. Values over 100% or below 0% indicate values that are illegal for broadcast, and even if you're not doing a broadcast workflow it's a good idea to keep trace on the Waveform scope between 0 and 100%.
Because the scale goes from 0 or dark or black to white or 100% up here, it mimics the tonal range. And by taking a look at the trace here I can see that the red trace is elevated over the green and blue traces, but particularly at the top portion, indicating that I have a color cast in the highlights. And this is an easy fix, making a saturation correction on the Color Board. So I'm going to press Command+6 to get back to the Color Board. And then here on the Saturation Pane, let's come in and use this target or puck for highlight or white saturation.
What I'm going to do is drag down quite a bit to de-saturate the highlights in this clip. If you take a look at the RGB Parade here you'll now notice that the traces are all relatively equal, indicating that I sort of neutralized the highlight color cast in this shot. Let's go ahead and hide the RGB Parade by pressing Command+7 and Command+7 again to totally clear it out, and then we'll go back to the main level of the Inspector. Let me toggle this Correction on and off. Here's the original shot, and you can notice the red or sort of pinkish color cast on the windows and on the table, and then here's the corrected shot.
Notice now that I have pure white light coming through the windows. Now, I'm the type of colorist that likes to have pure light coming through windows unless I know that something is filtering the shot. And most of the time, especially these days, windows are pretty clear and pretty transparent. So I want to have true white light. Alright, let's navigate down to the next clip in the Timeline here. And this shot looks okay but I notice a little bit of a color cast going on in the shadows with the darkest portions of this clip. So once again we'll select the clip and press Command+7 to open up the scopes.
Then we'll go into the Settings window and choose to display the Waveform, and once again, let's choose to display the RGB Parade. And then let me just select this shot. Okay, this time the problem is sort of the same, but on the opposite end of the tonal range. Notice that the red trace is elevated over the green and blue traces, but just at the bottom of the scale, indicating that we have a color cast in the shadows. Again, this is an easy fix to make using the Color Board. So what I'll do is press Command+6 to activate the Color Board and this time let's come into the shadows or black saturation control, this guy right here.
And I'm going to drag down quite a bit something like this to neutralize that color cast that's going on in the shadows. And you'll notice that the bottom of the traces are now relatively equal. Let's press Command+7 twice to get rid of the scopes and then let's go back to the main level of the Inspector here. And if I toggle this Correction on and off, you can see the original shot kind of has a color cast going on in the darkest portions of the clip. Then here's the corrected shot neutralized quite a bit. So one thing you might notice about this shot is now the whole thing looks to be a little de-saturated. That's because of the overlapping nature of the tonal range.
When I made the saturation correction with the shadows or black saturation control, it overlaps slightly with the mid-tone saturation control. That's why the subject's skin tone looks a little de-saturated as well. But that's actually okay. Talking to the DP and the Director, they wanted a sort of flat, de-saturated look on this shot. Finally, let's navigate down to the last clip in this Timeline, and you can see that this shot looks pretty good but one of the things that's bothering me about it is that this woman's skin tone seems to be pretty yellow, and this piece of wood back here is a little too bold.
Later in this title, we'll talk about making targeted corrections using secondary corrections in Final Cut Pro X, but for right now I can fix the overall saturation of her skin tone and this piece of wood in the background by making a mid-tone saturation correction. Why mid-tones? Well, most skin tone exists in the mid-tones of the tonal range. So let's press Command+6 to activate the Color Board, and then make sure we're on the Saturation Pane. Then let's use this control right here for mid-tone saturation. I'm going to drag down just a touch to make this shot a little less saturated, a little flatter looking.
Something like that works just fine. So you can see making saturation corrections in Final Cut Pro X is pretty straightforward using the Saturation Pane of the Color Board. I have to say that the flexibility that the Saturation Pane of the Color Board gives you in affecting saturation in different parts of the tonal range is one of my favorite features of color correcting and grading in Final Cut Pro X.
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