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Treating skies

From: Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X

Video: Treating skies

Skies are important to a colorist, but they are also important to viewers, whether they realize it or not. Skies can make a scene feel like early morning or have that golden afternoon feel. In other words, they can set the mood of a shot. Correcting skies is also really important for situations where clients say, "Hey, anything we can do with that flat, gray sky?" In this movie, I want to show you a couple of different ways that you can color correct skies using secondary color corrections here inside of Final Cut Pro X. This project contains two separate clips where the skies need some help. Let's take a look at this first shot. This is actually a time-lapse shot and it looks pretty good, but what I am noticing is that the sky seems to be pretty flat.

Treating skies

Skies are important to a colorist, but they are also important to viewers, whether they realize it or not. Skies can make a scene feel like early morning or have that golden afternoon feel. In other words, they can set the mood of a shot. Correcting skies is also really important for situations where clients say, "Hey, anything we can do with that flat, gray sky?" In this movie, I want to show you a couple of different ways that you can color correct skies using secondary color corrections here inside of Final Cut Pro X. This project contains two separate clips where the skies need some help. Let's take a look at this first shot. This is actually a time-lapse shot and it looks pretty good, but what I am noticing is that the sky seems to be pretty flat.

And what I want to do is actually add some saturation back into the sky. So with the shot selected I am going to use the keyboard shortcut Command+4 to open up the Inspector. Here in the Color section of the Inspector you will notice 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 perform a basic primary color correction. Actually, what I did was a simple exposure correction. But to isolate the sky, what I need to do is add a new correction, and I will do that by clicking this button right here. And for Correction 2, let's click this button right here to add a new Color Mask.

Then I will come over to the Viewer. And you'll notice in the Viewer here my cursor changes to an Eyedropper. What I want to do is click and drag out a little bit to isolate the sky. So I will click and drag out. And what you should notice is that part of the sky is still in color while the rest of the shot is desaturated. The part of the sky that's in color will take part in the correction that we are about to make. The stuff that's desaturated will not take part in that correction. Just be careful you don't drag out too far and select most of the shot. Just remember, the larger that these circles are the more similar color and contrast values that you will have added to your selection.

So what I actually find to be most useful is to drag down and make these circles smaller and make a small initial selection, something like that. And then with the Eyedropper still active I can add the Shift key and click again and add more to my selection. I'll do this several times, adding additional parts of the sky to my selection. Alright, something like that works. Now you might have noticed that I actually selected the bit of this column and the back of the truck down here, but I actually think that's okay. For this shot, I don't think we will notice. Let's come back over to the Inspector here and on Correction 2, let's click this button to access the Color Board.

Then let's click over to the Saturation Pane. Down at the bottom of the Color Board, we have two options right here, Inside Mask and Outside Mask. We want to make sure that we are on Inside Mask. With this option set to Inside Mask any correction that I make will affect my selection, instead of the inverse of my selection which would happen if I chose Outside Mask. So with Inside Mask selected, let me come up here to the Global or Master Saturation Control, this guy right here, and drag up quite a bit to saturate the sky. Alright, that's looking pretty good. Let's go back to the main level of the Inspector.

Then let me toggle this correction on and off. So here is the original shot, and then the corrected shot. The original and the corrected shot. That looks pretty good. Let's skim through this shot. Yeah, it looks pretty good to me. Let's go down to the second shot in this Timeline. This shot is pretty nice; it has a nice golden, sort of afternoon feel to it, but the sky looks a little flat. So what I want to do is actually use a secondary color correction to treat this flat sky, but instead of using a Color Mask we are going to use a Shape Mask. So let me select this shot, and just like the first shot we can see that the shot has a primary color correction already applied to it here with Correction 1.

Toggle that on and off so you can see, and again, I just did a simple exposure correction. And to isolate the sky what we need to do is add a new correction, of course, so I will click this Plus button. And then down here for Correction 2, instead of using a Color Mask, I want to add a Shape Mask by clicking this second button right here. After I click that button here in the Viewer, I have some on-screen controls. Let's use this little translucent controller here to change the shape from a circle to more of a square, and then let's use this control right here in the middle to position up here. Then we will use these green control points to resize and change the aspect ratio of the shape itself.

Alright, something like that's working pretty well. Remember, you always want to add a bit of softness to a shape so you don't see any hard edges on it. And to do that, I'll just grab this line right here. This outside line is my softness control. Now I will drag out to add a bit of softness; something like that works. Back over here in the Inspector for Correction 2 let's click on this button right here to access the Color Board, and then let's click over to the Color Pane. Again I want to make sure that I am set to Inside Mask.

In the case of a shape, what that means is that any correction I do will be applied to the inside of a shape instead of the outside of a shape. So with Inside Mask selected, let's come in here to my Midtones Control right here, this guy. Let's actually drag down into negative blue. Remember, negative blue is actually yellow. And that adds a little bit of warmth back to the shot. Let me select the Highlights Control, this guy right here, and I will also drag down just a touch into negative blue. And now I have a nice warm sky. Let me skim through that, and yeah, that looks pretty good.

So you can see that both Color Masks and Shape Masks are good ways to correct skies here inside of Final Cut Pro X.

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Color Correction in Final Cut Pro X

30 video lessons · 11976 viewers

Robbie Carman
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