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Creating a high-contrast look

From: Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X

Video: Creating a high-contrast look

In the previous chapter, we talked about expanding contrast to add a little more pop or punch to a shot. In this movie, I want to talk about using some contrast or exposure corrections to create a very high contrast look. And the technique of creating a high contrast look is actually pretty similar to that of expanding contrast. But we are going to take it a step further. In my mind, there are two things that really define a high contrast look. Deep or crushed blacks or shadows and blown out highlights. And this project contains a clip that actually has a great deal of natural contrast in it. And I can see that with the highlights on the shirt than the darker areas back here against the wall.

Creating a high-contrast look

In the previous chapter, we talked about expanding contrast to add a little more pop or punch to a shot. In this movie, I want to talk about using some contrast or exposure corrections to create a very high contrast look. And the technique of creating a high contrast look is actually pretty similar to that of expanding contrast. But we are going to take it a step further. In my mind, there are two things that really define a high contrast look. Deep or crushed blacks or shadows and blown out highlights. And this project contains a clip that actually has a great deal of natural contrast in it. And I can see that with the highlights on the shirt than the darker areas back here against the wall.

What I actually want to do is actually expand upon this natural contrast to create a super stylized, high contrast look. And we are going to do that by accessing the Exposure pane of the Color Board. So with the clip selected, let's go ahead and use the keyboard shortcut Command+6 to open up the Color Board. Then I am going to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Command+E to access the Exposure pane of the Color Board. Remember, E for exposure. Instead of using the global or master exposure control, what I am going to do is use these three controls for the different parts of the tonal range. This one for shadows or blacks, this one for midtowns, and then this one for highlights or whites.

Let's go ahead and start out with the blacks or shadows exposure control. And what I am going to do is select it and then drag down quite a bit to crush the blacks in this shot. Something like that. And you can see I have definitely crushed the blacks in this shot. The shadows don't have a whole lot of detail in them. Next, let's come over to the highlights or whites exposure control, select it, and then drag up quite a bit to blow out the highlights in this shot. Alright, I like that. Finally, let's go ahead and select the midtones exposure control, but instead of dragging, I am simply going to select it and then use the up arrow to nudge it up ever so slightly.

Alright, something like that works. Next let's go ahead and click back to the main level Inspector by clicking the back button here in the Color Board. You will notice in the Color section of the video pane of the Inspector, we have a correction, Correction 1. Every shot in Final Cut Pro X has this correction; it's the default correction on every shot. And we can toggle this correction on and off by using this little blue square right here. Here's the original shot and then here's the corrected shot. I think you can see that the corrected shot is definitely a super stylized, high contrast look.

Let me hide the Inspector. I am going to that by using the keyboard shortcut Command+4. Then what I want to do is access my Video Scopes. And I am going to do that by using the keyboard shortcut Command+7. Once the scopes window opens up, let's click into the Settings here and choose to display the Waveform scope. Then let's click again and make sure that we are choosing to display the Waveform using the Luma option, which I am. So let me go ahead and select a shot down here in the timeline, and now I can see trace for this clip here in the Waveform scope set to Luma. But Houston, we have a problem. You'll notice on the Waveform scope set to Luma here that we actually trace above 100% and below 0%.

And for all intents and purposes, when I have trace above 100% and below 0%, this indicates that this clip is illegal for broadcast. And even if you are not doing the broadcast workflow, it's a good idea to keep your trace between 0 and 100% on the Waveform scope. Fortunately, Final Cut Pro X has an effect that can help us legalize this clip. It's called the Broadcast Safe effect, and to access the Broadcast Safe effect, what we are going to do is come down to this button right here on the interface. We can also use the keyboard shortcut Command+5. And this will access our Effects browser in Final Cut Pro X. Next, what I am going to do is come into this category right here labeled Basics.

And here's the effect that I am looking for, called Broadcast Safe. Let me go ahead and select the Broadcast Safe effect and drag it onto the shot in the timeline. It doesn't look like anything really happened. Well, nothing really did. For the Broadcast Safe effect to work properly, you need to apply it to what is called a compound clip. And if you're coming from the previous version of Final Cut Pro, the best way to think about a compound clip is as a nested clip. Now, one thing I should say. While I am going to create a compound clip out of this single clip, generally speaking you create a compound clip out of multiple clips or even an entire timeline and then apply the Broadcast Safe effect.

But for this movie, I am going to create a compound clip out of this single clip and then apply the Broadcast Safe effect. Alright, so let me go ahead and use the keyboard shortcut Command+Z to undo the application of the Broadcast Safe effect to this shot. Then what I am going to do is right- click on the shot and then choose to create a New Compound Clip. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Option+G. Alright, so now I've created a Compound Clip. And what I am going to do is double- click on the Broadcast Safe Filter here to apply it to the Compound Clip. And up here in the Scopes window, with my Waveform scope set to Luma, you can now see that I have trace inside of 100% and 0%, indicating at the shot is now legal for broadcast purposes.

Okay, so that's creating a high-contrast look. I think you can see that's really pretty easy using the Exposure pane of the Color Board. And by creating a Compound Clip and using the Broadcast Safe effect, we can keep the clip legal for broadcast purposes.

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Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X

30 video lessons · 12784 viewers

Robbie Carman
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