Join Robbie Carman for an in-depth discussion in this video Preparing a Final Cut Pro sequence for Color, part of Apple Color Essential Training.
In the last movie, we took a look at some of the limitations of sending a Final Cut Pro sequence to Color. In this movie, we'll take a look at better prepping our Final Cut Pro sequence. The first thing I want to do is just come down to the bottom of the timeline window in Final Cut Pro and click on the Toggle Clip Keyframes button, just to make the timeline a little easier to look at. The next thing I want to do is just use a quick keyboard shortcut, Shift+Z in the timeline, and that will snap the whole timeline back into the viewable area of the timeline window.
Now, this is just a personal preference thing, but before I do any changes on a sequence, I like to backup the original sequence. So let's go ahead and do that. I want to come up to my browser and find the sequence 3_3 prepfcpseq_limitationsofcolor and let's right click on the actual sequence icon and choose Duplicate. That makes a copy of the sequence. So next what I want to do is just click on the actual name of the sequence and let's just change its name. Just to be consistent, let's change the name of this sequence to be 3_4, and then at the end of the sequence, let's just add FOR COLOR. That way we can be very clear about which sequence we're working on.
So to open up the sequence, I'm just going to double click on the actual sequence icon and that opens up the new sequence. Let's start prepping the sequence. If you remember correctly, at the beginning of the sequence, I had a Title 3D text generator, and this was just the title generator that was giving me my standard music video text. Also, in the middle of the sequence, I have that 3D text that was created in motion, and this is my motion clip.
Now, I have a decision to make. I can leave this text just as is and it will show up as offline clips in Color, just really as placeholders. I've got to tell you that drives me crazy. So actually what I want to do here is just remove the Title 3D generator and the motion clip from this sequence. Don't worry. I'm not really deleting it, because remember, I have the sequence backed up. This one up here, 3_3 prepfcpseq. So when this project comes back to Final Cut Pro, I can literally just do a copy and paste of the Title 3D generator and the motion clip back onto the color corrected sequence.
So I'm just going to remove the text and the motion clip. Again, this is optional, you don't have to do this, but I find it a good thing to do, because it makes your Color timeline a whole lot easier to look at. So I'm just going to select both clips and hit Delete. That leaves me with a blank video track 2. We saw in the previous movie that Color will maintain the amount of video tracks that you have from a Final Cut Pro sequence. Well, there's no real need to have a blank video track in Color, so I'm going to delete this track. The way that I do that is just to come over anywhere here into the gray area on V2, right click and say Delete track. So now I just have a single track. We're getting there.
The next thing I want to address is the photo at the end of this sequence. Remember this was just a simple push- in to a still photo, and we saw in the previous movie that Color does not support stills, JPEGs, TIFFs, or even stills that we create as freeze frames in Final Cut Pro. So in order to get this still into Color, I need to actually export this as a Self-Contained QuickTime file. That's the only way that I'll be able to get it into Color for purposes of color correction and grading. So to do this, I'm going to go to the very beginning of the photo and I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut I to mark an in-point. I'm then going to come to the end of the photo. And just be careful you don't go too far. So I'm going to go back one frame so I have the very last frame of the photo, and I'm going to mark an out simply by hitting the O key on the keyboard.
So now I've defined the photo, I've marked an in and an out, I've marked that area around the photo. Now what I'm going to do is come up to the File menu, down to Export, and choose QuickTime Movie. So the dialog box that pops up just gives me some options about how I want to export this. First of all, let's give it a new name. Let's call it sunsetphotomovie. Let's save it out to our Desktop. Then down here with the Settings, let's use the Current Settings. That will just make sure that the settings that this movie uses will match the sequence that I'm currently working with.
Under the Include pull down, let's just choose Video Only, because it's just a still, I don't need audio. Then most importantly, let's just make sure that the Make Movie Self-Contained checkbox is checked. Then just hit Save. It will take two seconds to render out, and it's done. Now what we want to do is come up to my Final Cut Pro browser and anywhere in the gray area here, right click and choose Import, and then Files. Let's navigate back out to my Desktop and let's choose the file, sunsetphotomovie. The file is loaded to my browser and let's just double click on it, and it loads it up into the viewer, and if I scrub through that, you can see it's still that push into the photo, but now instead of a still image, it is an actual movie file.
Because I still have my sequence marked with in and out points, let's actually go ahead and just edit this new movie into the sequence. To do that, I'm simply going to take the new movie, drag it over to the canvas window, and choose Overwrite. There we go. sunsetphotomovie has been edited into the sequence and now it's not a still image. It's a self-contained QuickTime file. The next thing I want to address is the issue of filters. If you remember correctly, this clip, RC-012, had a color correction filter applied to it.
I'll double click on it, to load it up into the viewer, and let's take a look at in the Filters tab and there we have a Color Balance Filter. Now, I have two choices here. I could simply just turn it off, so I get back to the original. The important thing to understand about this is that if I was to leave this filter on this clip, when I send it to Color, the filter would not show up. It wouldn't be displayed. But when I come back from Color to Final Cut Pro, if this Filter was still on the clip, it would be married back up to the Color Corrector clip.
So think about it. You send this sequence to Color, you color correct and grade this clip, and it looks beautiful. Then when it comes back from Color to Final Cut Pro, it's married back up with it's Color Balance Filter, and the correction that you just did in Color now looks weird, because this filter is applied again to the clip. So I think it's a safe bet just to delete the Color Balance Filter. You don't have to delete all filters. I like to just delete filters that really have to do with color correction. But the choice is yours, if you want to remove all filters from your Final Cut Pro sequence.
So I'm going to simply select the Color Balance Filter and hit Delete. That gets me back to the original clip. If you remember correctly, the second clip here in the timeline, the one called RC-008 also had a filter applied to it. It was the Color Corrector 3-way. In the previous movie I mentioned that the Color Corrector 3-way is translated into a Primary In correction in Color. Now, that might be okay, but you're using Color because that's where you want to perform your color correction. Any translation that happens may be wonky, because remember, Final Cut Pro uses the Y'CbCr Color Encoding method, while Color uses the RGB Encoding method.
So there has to be some translation there, and you might get some shifts in Color. So again, because this is a color correction filter, I'm going to simply remove it from the clip. Then the last thing that we want to address is this variable speed change of this clip. If you remember correctly, this clip, RC-Broll-006, had a variable speed change applied to it. Now, in the most recent version of Color, Color has been able to deal very well with speed changes. However, if you still notice that you're having problems with clips going from Final Cut Pro to Color that have speed changes on them, just follow the same procedure that we did to export the still photo, export it as a Self-Contained QuickTime file.
The last thing about this sequence is transitions. Now, it's just a personal preference, but having the transitions displayed on the Color timeline doesn't really bother me. Just remember that the transitions are neither displayed nor rendered by Color, they're just there as placeholders. Now that we've prepped the sequence a little bit, let's send it back to Color. So to do this, I'm going to make sure that the timeline is selected, because remember, Color cannot send individual clips, it can only send sequences. So I've made sure that the timeline is selected, and I'm going to come up to the File menu, and down to Send To, and choose Color.
Once again, I get this prompt to name the Color project, and by default it takes the name of the sequence that I was working on. The name that's there by default is just fine, so I'm going to go ahead and click OK. Color opens back up. Now, what you just saw happened there, I should make note of, we previously had a Color project opened, and when I just sent this sequence from Final Cut Pro to Color, the old Color project was saved, then closed, and this new project was opened in its place.
Let's go down and look at the Color timeline now. Remember to zoom in on the Color timeline, I can just simply right click on the time code ruler here to zoom in horizontally, and then I can use my middle mouse button to click and drag left and right to pan the sequence. So right off the bat, you'll notice that now with this sequence I only have a single video track, because I deleted video track two. Of course, because I deleted video track two and removed the text generator in the motion clip, those are not displayed either.
If I come down and take a look at the end of the sequence, you'll notice now where I previously had a photo that was not displayed in Color, I'm actually seeing an image. This is because we exported that photo from Final Cut Pro as a Self-Contained QuickTime and edited it back into the timeline. Because it's a Self-Contained QuickTime, it's now available for us to color correct and grade in Color. If I take a look at the two clips that I had filters on, this clip right here is the original clip, and this looks the same as it did before, but just realize that now when I go back to Final Cut Pro that I've removed that filter, so I'm not going to get any funkiness if I graded the clip in Color, and then having a filter reapplied to the clip back in Final Cut Pro.
I also removed that Color Corrector 3- way, so there's no translation happening from the Color Corrector 3-way into the Primary In room here in Color. Then lastly, the speed corrected clip that I have is still intact. I should just stress one last time that clips that have speed adjustments should work just fine, but if you start seeing problems with speed adjusted clips, remember, the procedure to follow is just the same one that we did with the still photo. In Final Cut Pro, export your speed adjusted clip as a Self-Contained QuickTime, edit it back into the Final Cut Pro timeline, and then send the sequence to Color.
So maybe you're thinking to yourself, wow, that seems like quite a bit of work. Well, the first time or two you prep a project, particularly on a long show, it might seem that way, but quickly this part of the workflow becomes rather quick. In my opinion, this extra bit of effort required to get a perfect sequence to Color is worth it. One thing is for sure, workflow issues like the ones we've described here will get improved by Apple as the application matures.
- Understanding digital color correction
- Fitting Color into Final Cut Studio processes
- Importing and opening projects
- Using the scopes
- Adjusting under- and overexposed clips
- Removing color casts with the Color Balance controls
- Understanding the Secondaries room
- Building Color effects
- Using multiple grades and corrections
- Changing color over time
- Rendering and outputting files