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Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X
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Fixing overexposed footage


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Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X

with Robbie Carman

Video: Fixing overexposed footage

Earlier in this chapter we took a look at fixing an underexposed shot. The underexposed shot is a cousin to the overexposed shot that we'll talk about in this movie. Just like we did when we fixed an underexposed shot, we're going to use the Color Board here in Final Cut Pro X to make a correction. Let me show you what I mean about this shot; let me skim through it real quick. By looking at this shot you can tell that it's pretty bright and in general looks overexposed. Also the clip seems to have almost a gray patina over it. This is a common symptom of an overexposed shot, but remember, your eyes lie to you.

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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

Fixing overexposed footage

Earlier in this chapter we took a look at fixing an underexposed shot. The underexposed shot is a cousin to the overexposed shot that we'll talk about in this movie. Just like we did when we fixed an underexposed shot, we're going to use the Color Board here in Final Cut Pro X to make a correction. Let me show you what I mean about this shot; let me skim through it real quick. By looking at this shot you can tell that it's pretty bright and in general looks overexposed. Also the clip seems to have almost a gray patina over it. This is a common symptom of an overexposed shot, but remember, your eyes lie to you.

So we want to verify that this shot is overexposed by using the Video Scopes, and to access the Video Scopes I'm simply going to come up to the Window menu and down to this option to Show the Video Scopes. I can also use a keyboard shortcut Command+7. By the way, another way that you can access the Video Scopes is by clicking on this light switch icon right here and then choosing to Show or Hide the Video Scopes. Once the Scope window opens up, let's come up to the Settings menu and choose to change the Display Type or the Scope Type to the Waveform Scope. Then let's click back in the Settings menu and make sure that we're choosing to display the Waveform Scope with the Luma option.

With the Waveform Scope set to the Luma option, this is going to be the principal way that you measure brightness information in a shot. And if you're trying to verify that a shot is overexposed or underexposed, the Waveform Scope set to Luma is going to be your best scope choice. Let me go ahead and select the shot down here in the timeline and the scope will update. And now I can actually see trace or information about this shot in the viewer here in the Scopes window. Looking at the trace of this shot, most of the trace goes from about 25% up to about 100%, and in fact, there is a bit of trace over 100%.

Trace that's over 100% or below 0% is generally considered illegal for broadcast, and even if you're not in a broadcast workflow, it's a good idea to keep your trace between 0% and 100% on the Waveform Scope set to Luma. And remember that the scale that the Waveform Scope uses goes from 0 or Black up to 100 or White. So with trace elevated pretty much in the middle to the upper portions of the Waveform Scope here, I can tell that this clip is overexposed. And to fix this shot we're going to make a correction on the Color Board.

So to access the Color Board let's use the keyboard shortcut Command+4. And here in the Color section of the Inspector, you can see that I have an item labeled Correction 1. Every shot has a default correction labeled Correction 1. To access the Color Board for the shot I simply need to click on this button right here, and here I am on the Color Board. You don't actually need to go to the main level of the Inspector first to access the Color Board. Let me use Command+4 to hide the Inspector. To access the Color Board directly you can simply use the keyboard shortcut Command+6, and there you are right on the Color Board.

The Color Board contains three different panes: Color, Saturation, and Exposure. You can access these different panes simply by clicking on them, and you can also use different keyboard shortcuts. You can use Ctrl+Command+C to access the Color pane, Ctrl+Command+S to access the Saturation pane, and for this movie what we need to do is access the Exposure pane and I'll use a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Command+E, E for exposure, to access the Exposure pane. So here on the Exposure pane, one way that we can make this correction is by using this Global control right here.

If I select this and drag up, you'll notice that I'm making the clip brighter, and if I drag down, I'm making the clip darker. And for this clip, dragging down actually works pretty well, but I want to have a little bit more granular control over the Correction. Let's go ahead and reset this Correction by clicking the Reset button right here. What I want to do is come in and use these three controls right here for the different parts of the tonal range. Blacks or shadows with this one, midtones with this guy, then highlights or whites with this one right here. So let's first come into the highlights or whites control and drag down just a touch until the trace is just inside 100% and the Waveform Scope set to Luma, something like that.

Next, let's select the blacks or shadows target, this guy right here. You don't actually need to drag. You can use the up and down arrows on the keyboard to adjust the controls here on the Exposure pane of the Color Board. So with the shadows or blacks target selected, I'm going to use the down arrow quite a bit to darken the shot up, and what I'm trying to do is have the bottom of the trace here on the Waveform Scope set to Luma just touch 0% and what this will do is it will ensure that anything that's supposed to be black in the shot will be displayed as black.

Now when I made that last correction, you'll notice that this woman's shirt got a little too dark, so what I want to do is actually come into the midtones target and arrow up just a bit to lighten the clip. Something like that. The bottom of the trace is still touching 0%, but her black shirt doesn't look as deep or as crushed. Okay, let's go back to the main level of the Inspector here by clicking this Back button, and then let me go ahead and toggle this correction on and off. So here's the original shot. You can see that this shot kind of looks washed out and that the trace on the Waveform Scope set to Luma is elevated over 100% and no portion of the trace touches 0%.

Let's go ahead and turn the Correction on. Now the shot looks way better and you can see that I have no portion of the trace over 100% and the bottom of the trace touches 0%, allowing for anything that's supposed to be black in the shot to be displayed as black. Let me go ahead and hide the Inspector by pressing Command+4. And then, let's skim through the shot. You can now see that the shot looks way better and is much more usable. Let's go ahead and hide the Scopes window by using the keyboard shortcut Command+7, and then what I want to do is actually open up the Inspector once again by using the keyboard shortcut Command+4.

And now if I toggle the correction on and off, once again in this bigger view, you can see that the clip looks way, way better between the original and the corrected shot. So that's fixing an overexposed clip with a simple contrast or exposure correction using the Color Board in Final Cut Pro X.

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