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Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X

Enhancing skin tone with a color mask


From:

Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X

with Robbie Carman

Video: Enhancing skin tone with a color mask

So you have done some primary correction on a shot and things are looking pretty good. But then you notice something. The skin tone of an actor, or maybe of a subject, kind of looks off. Maybe it's too red or too yellow. Maybe there is too much shadow on their face, or maybe they have a hotspot on their head. Whatever the case is, you can correct these situations easily by using a color mask. That's what I want to show you in this movie. This project contains a shot that looks okay, but the actor's skin tone doesn't look that great. Back in Chapter 4, we adjusted the lightness of an actress' face using a color mask, but in this movie we are going to do the more common thing of color correcting skin tone.

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Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X
2h 40m Beginner Dec 21, 2011

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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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the video scopes
  • Using Balance Color and Match Color
  • Fixing under- and overexposed clips
  • Expanding contrast
  • Controlling saturation
  • Using color and shape masks
  • Creating looks with primary and secondary corrections
Subjects:
Video Color Correction
Software:
Color Final Cut Pro
Author:
Robbie Carman

Enhancing skin tone with a color mask

So you have done some primary correction on a shot and things are looking pretty good. But then you notice something. The skin tone of an actor, or maybe of a subject, kind of looks off. Maybe it's too red or too yellow. Maybe there is too much shadow on their face, or maybe they have a hotspot on their head. Whatever the case is, you can correct these situations easily by using a color mask. That's what I want to show you in this movie. This project contains a shot that looks okay, but the actor's skin tone doesn't look that great. Back in Chapter 4, we adjusted the lightness of an actress' face using a color mask, but in this movie we are going to do the more common thing of color correcting skin tone.

Let me go ahead and take a look at this shot down here in the timeline. And the shot looks all right, but to me the actor's face looks a bit red. So, let me go ahead and open up the Scopes to verify this. I will press Command+7 to access the Scopes. And up here in the Scopes window, I will click into the Settings menu and choose to display the Vectorscope. Again, I just need to make sure that the clip is selected down here in the timeline, and I can either select it or use the left and right arrows to get the Trace active here in the Vectorscope. Looking at the Vectorscope, you can see a large portion of the trace right here is actually pointed towards the red target, indicating that the subject's skin tone is actually kind of red.

But the other thing that I want to discuss that we haven't talked about yet is this line right here. This line is commonly referred to as the skin tone or flesh tone line. And you can actually toggle this line on and off. To do that, simply come into the Settings menu and then down to this option right here to Hide the Skin Tone Indicator. And you will notice that that line disappears. Click back to show it once again. Skin tone, regardless of race, generally falls somewhere on or near this line. Now just note I said near this line. It's not a hard and fast rule.

Some people are naturally a little more red, some people are naturally little more yellow, and so on and so forth. But as a general guide, skin tone should fall somewhere on or near this line. So we determine that this actor's face is a little bit too rosy. So we want to fix this. Let me hide the Scope by pressing Command+7 and Command+7 again to hide it completely. Then when the shot is selected down here in the timeline, I will use the keyboard shortcut Command+ 4 to open up the inspector. Here in the color section of the inspector, you can see that the shot already has a Correction applied to it. This of course is the default correction that every clip in Final Cut Pro X has, and I have used this correction to do a very simple contrast adjustment.

And I have used this correction to perform a very basic exposure correction. What I want to actually do is add an additional correction so we can isolate the Skin Tone of the subject. And to do that, I will click on this plus button right here. And on Correction #2, let me go ahead and click this button right here to create a new Color Mask. Over here in the viewer, you notice that my cursor changes into an eyedropper. What I want to do is click to isolate the actor's skin tone right here. So I will click and then drag out a little bit. And you notice as I drag, these two circles become bigger.

Be careful that you don't drag out too far, like this. The larger these two circles are; the more similar color and contrast values that you will be adding to your selection. So what I actually find more useful to do is to make a small initial selection, something like that. And then with the eyedropper still active, if I hold down the Shift key, I can add a little bit of more to my selection, something like that works just fine. Now that we've isolated the actor's skin tone, let's come in here to the Color Mask control and soften that selection up just a bit.

It's important to soften a selection out quite a bit, especially with skin tone. Next, for Correction 2 here, let's come in and click this button right here to access the Color Board for Correction 2. And then let me click over to the Color pane. Using the Midtones control, this guy right here, I am going to drag down into the negative blue area. Remember, negative blue is actually yellow. Something like that works just fine. And I will do the same thing for the highlights control. All right, maybe I will back off that a touch. So now the actor is looking nice and healthy.

He seems to be a little too saturated to me though, so I am going to click over to the Saturation pane, and then with the midtones saturation control, I will drag down just a touch. Something like that works just fine. Now, one important note. At the bottom of the Color Board here, you will notice that I have two buttons, Inside Mask and Outside Mask. The default is Inside Mask. What this means is that any correction that you make with this option selected will affect the selection that you've made, not its inverse, which would happen if you selected the Outside Mask option. So the actor is looking much better there.

But let's go ahead and verify that by opening up the Vectorscope again. So let me go ahead and hide my inspector by pressing Command+4. Then I'll open up the Scopes by using the keyboard shortcut Command+7, and then I will click back here into the Settings menu and choose to display the Vectorscope. Once again, I need to select a clip. And now you can see most of the trace is right on that skin tone or flesh tone line indicator, right here, and the actor looks much better. Let's hide this scope by pressing Command+7 twice. Then I will open up the Inspector again, and let's toggle that Correction on and off.

So here is the original shot where he looks little rosy, and then here is the corrected shot where he looks nice and healthy. Of course, it's always a good idea to skim through your shot in the timeline, just to make sure that you didn't miss anything. And yep, he looks good. So you can see that it's actually a quick process to fix skin tone using a Color Mask here inside of Final Cut Pro X.

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