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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.
If you're on a broadcast workflow, or even if you're just trying to make your footage look its best, broadcast legality should be a big concern of yours. What Broadcast Safe really means is that the video signal, both Luma, Chroma, and other measurements, meet a broadcaster's specific requirements. The first line of defense in creating a broadcast-legal shot is by using a primary correction, or a correction that affects the entire shot. That's what we're going to talk about in this movie. But, we'll also take a look at using the Broadcast Safe effect here in Final Cut Pro X. Let's take a look at this first shot here in the Timeline. I'll skim through it and you can tell that it looks all right. Let's verify what's going on with the video signal by opening up the Videoscopes.
To open up the scopes, I'll use the keyboard shortcut Command+7. Then up here in the Scopes window, let me click into the Settings menu and choose to display the Waveform scope. I'll click back into the Settings menu and make sure that I have the Luma option selected for the Waveform scope, which I do. So let me just select the shot down here in the Timeline and now we can see some trace in the Waveform scope set to Luma. Let me skim through the shot. Everything looks all right, but I notice a little problem. Notice this bit of trace right here that's over 100%. Well, generally speaking, trace that's over 100% or below 0% is illegal for broadcast.
Fortunately, we can make a quick exposure correction on the Color Board here in Final Cut Pro X to fix this problem. So let me go ahead and use the keyboard shortcut Command+6 to open up the Color Board, and then I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Command+E to activate the Exposure pane. Then I'm going to come in to the Highlights exposure control, this guy right here, and drag down just a touch. As I do that, what you should notice over on the Waveform scope set to Luma is that the top of the trace is now inside of 100%, indicating that I have a legal clip for broadcast. Now, because I've darkened the highlights, what I'll often do is come into the Midtones, this control right here, select it, and nudge the midtones up just a touch, something like that.
Because I've taken away brightness from the highlights, I want to add it back in to the midtones. If you take a look at the Waveform scope set to Luma here, you can see that the clip is still legal. We have trace between 0 and 100%. All right. Let's navigate down to the second shot in this Timeline. Let me go ahead and hide the scopes by pressing Command+7 and Command+7 again. The first thing you should notice about this clip is that it appears to be really, really saturated, not in a specific place, but all over. Now, for the sake of transparency, the shooting on this film was actually really, really good. So I actually engineered the shot to be oversaturated.
But, that's okay, we can still fix it. So when you're faced with naturally oversaturated clips in your own work, you know how to fix them. So let's go ahead and select the shot and then once again open up the scopes by pressing Command+7. Then, let's come up here to the Settings menu, then choose to show the Vectorscope. Once again, we need to make sure that the shot is selected down here in the Timeline. With the shot selected, I can see a whole bunch of trace here on the Vectorscope pointed out between the yellow and red targets. Remember that the distance out from center to the outside edges of the vectorscope represents saturation.
So I can tell that this clip is actually really, really saturated. Now, most broadcasters, when they're looking at Vectorscopes on their own equipment, would like you to have trace inside of the outside targets. That's generally what most broadcasters consider to be legal or safe saturation. In this shot you can see that the outside of the trace is about equal with the yellow and red targets. But I take a little bit more of a conservative approach. I would like to have the trace inside of the yellow and red targets. Furthermore, if you just take a look at the clip, you can tell that it's too saturated. So what we want to do is make a saturation correction over here on the Color Board to fix the oversaturated nature of this clip.
So with the shot selected, let me come over and click on the Saturation pane here on the Color Board. Then I'm going to use the Global or Master Saturation Control, this one right here, and drag down to desaturate the shot. Okay, that's looking much better. Let me go ahead and hide the scope by pressing Command+7 and Command+7 again to close it entirely. Then, here in the Color Board, let me click the Back button right here to go back to the main level of the Inspector, and then right here on Correction 1, the default correction that every shot has in Final Cut Pro X, let me click this blue button to toggle the correction On and Off.
So here's the original shot. You can tell that it's definitely oversaturated, and then here's the corrected shot. It looks much better. Let's navigate down to the third shot in this timeline. All right, this shot looks pretty cool. Obviously, it's a dark shot. Kind of has a silhouette thing going on with it. Let's verify what's going on with the video signal by selecting the shot, and then pressing Command+7 to open up the scopes. Here in the Settings menu, let's go ahead and choose the Waveform scope. We'll click back into the Settings menu, make sure that we're using the Luma option, which we are. So let me go ahead and select this shot here in the Timeline to see trace up here in the Waveform scope set to Luma.
Looking at the trace, everything appears to be good. I've traced between 0 and 100% with no part of the trace going over 100% or below 0. I'll just verify that by skimming through the shot. Yup! Everything looks pretty good. Let me click back in the Settings menu and change my View to the Vectorscope. Once again, I need to make sure that I have the shot selected. Everything looks good here too. I have a bit of trace pointed out towards the blue and cyan targets, and you can look at the shot and it looks blue, but it's not overly saturated. Let's come back into the Settings menu and once again, choose the Waveform scope, then click back in the Settings menu, and choose this time to display the RGB Parade.
Ahh... Here I have a problem. You notice I have this bit of trace right here over 100%. Just like with the Waveform set to Luma, any trace that's over 100% or below 0% is generally considered illegal for broadcast. Because this trace is over 100%, I know that I have a little bit of a color cast in the highlights of this shot. And I could fix this in two different ways. I like the blue nature of this clip. So I'm not actually going to do a color correction. So the first way I have to fix it is I could actually darken the shot. But, I don't actually want to darken the shot because it's already pretty dark.
So the other way that I have to fix this shot is by making a saturation correction to the highlights of the shot. So with the shot selected down here in the Timeline, let me go ahead and open up the Color Board for the shot by pressing Command+6. Then in Saturation pane here, let's come to the Highlights saturation control, this guy right here, and drag down. As I drag down, what you should notice over in the RGB Parade is that the trace is now inside of 100% indicating that I now have a legal clip. This is a common occurrence. You might have legal Luma levels. And if you look at the vectorscope, you might have legal saturation levels.
But if you look at the RGB Parade, you might have illegal levels there. So it's always a good idea to double- check the RGB Parade for illegal RGB values. Finally, let's come down to the last shot in this Timeline. And just by taking a quick peek at the shot on the scopes, you can tell here on the RGB Parade that the shot is too bright; we have trace that's over 100%. Let me click into the Settings menu and change the Waveform to the Luma option. Once again, I have trace that's over 100%, indicating that I have an illegal clip. So instead of actually manually correcting the shot, what I want to do is use an effect called the Broadcast Safe effect here in Final Cut Pro X. But for the Broadcast Safe effect to work properly, I actually need to create what is called a compound clip.
If you're coming from previous versions of Final Cut Pro, a compound clip is best thought of as a nested clip. And generally speaking, in most workflows, you would actually nest or create a compound clip out of a few shots, or maybe even an entire timeline. But for this movie, I'm going to create a compound clip out of a single shot, this last shot right here. So let me go ahead and select the shot and then right-click on it, and then I'm going to choose New Compound Clip. I can also use the keyboard shortcut Option+G. Okay, so I've created the compound clip. Next, I need to find the Broadcast Safe effect. I'm going to find that by clicking on this button right here to launch the Effects Browser.
I can also use the keyboard shortcut Command+5. Here in the Effects Browser, let's come into the Basics category right here, and then let's choose this effect right here labeled Broadcast Safe. I'm simply going to take that effect and drag it onto the compound clip. When I do that, you can now notice up here in the Waveform scope set to Luma that my trace is inside 100%, indicating that I have a legal clip. As I said before, in most workflows, what you'd normally do is manually color correct and make contrast adjustments on your footage. Then when you're done, you'd create a compound clip of your entire timeline, and then apply the Broadcast Safe effect to make sure that you haven't missed any stray pixels.
Okay, so that's using primary corrections to ensure broadcast legality, as well as using the Broadcast Safe effect. Now, you might be thinking to yourself, how are those corrections different from, say, fixing under or overexposed clips or expanding the contrast ratio of a clip? Well, they're really not. In the course of normal corrections, simply use the concept of Broadcast Safe to inform your primary corrections.
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