Join Robbie Carman for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the differences between Color and Final Cut Pro, part of Getting Started with Apple Color.
I promise we will get into the application soon but here's our last Keynote presentation. If you are anything like me, you might be asking yourself, "I have been doing just fine correcting footage with Final Cut Pro. Who cares about Color?" I will be the first to tell you that initially, I thought much of the Color hype had to do with marketing. But having worked with Final Cut Pro extensively as an online editor and colorist, as well as having worked with other systems like the Da Vinci 2K, I would say, Color's where it's at if you can afford a slight deprecation in real -time output, compared to these million dollar systems. In fact, almost every colorist I have talked to in the past year has preferred Color's tool set than that of other major color correction tools. In this short lesson, we will take a look at comparing Final Cut Pro's color corrections tools to that of Color.
So what is color correction of Final Cut Pro all about? Well, the thing about color correction in Final Cut Pro is that you will never leave the Final Cut Pro interface. It's one place to ingest, edit, perform effects, transitions, and color correct. It begs the question though because this application does a lot of things, is that color correction good enough? For some people, it might be; for others who long for more, it might not be. Is the Y'CbCr model easier? Uh, what did I just say? This is a color model that Final Cut Pro uses. Essentially, what it means is that color in contrast or brightness and darkness can be adjusted separately from one another. The Y is the Luma component, while Cb and Cr are the color components of the signal.
It's a multi-task application, like I said. So it doesn't do just one thing, it does a lot of things. And for some people, they might want an application that does a lot of things. And kind of a big thing is that there are no limitations for files within Studio. Because Final Cut Pro is the heart of the Final Cut Studio, it accepts files from all the other applications whereas Color doesn't, as we'll see. And a big one for some colorists is that it has limited control surface support. A control surface is just a piece of hardware that gives you tactile control over parameters and functions in the application. In a Final Cut Pro, we don't really have that for color correction specifically.
So what is color correction in Color all about? It has a much broader range of tools obviously, because it's called Color and that's what it does. It's color correction and grading. Its interface and the workflow are geared to specific task, well, namely color correction. But even to break it down further than there, primary color correction, secondary color correction and so on. It uses the RGB color model, which a lot of people think is more natural. That's how a lot of computer applications work, it's kind of how we see the world and it's not as limited in some ways as the color model that Final Cut Pro uses.
Currently, Color has limited integration with the rest of Final Cut Studio. It accepts projects from Final Cut Pro, it will go back and forth with some files but some other files like generators from Final Cut Pro, Motion files, etcetera, are not accepted at this time. For some, this might be a big limitation. It has control surface support. For a die hard colorist like myself, control surface support is a must. Because I get tactile control over the parameters in Color, I can work much, much faster than point and click. And Color does have a little intangibles to it and what I mean by that is the intangibles about Color are the fact that you are using a dedicated color application.
If a client walked into a room when you are color correcting in Final Cut Pro, sure it might be able to do the job just fine, but most clients think about Final Cut Pro as an editor, not as a finishing solution that Color is. And so if you are working in a Color project, have Color open and have a hardware control surface, your client walks in and goes, ooh! Ahh! And therefore, you raise your value to that client. But it's an intangible, like I said. So what are the limitations of color correcting in Final Cut Pro? First, the interface is not geared completely towards color correction. As we mentioned, Final Cut Pro does a lot of things and that can be a big downer because it's not geared specifically towards color correction. The Color Corrector 3-way is the tool to provide primary and secondary corrections. And maybe you're a Final Cut Pro guru and you're saying, well, that's not true. And you are kind of right. There are other tools in Final Cut Pro that help me color correct. But for the most part, the Color Corrector 3-way is the tool that most colorist would use to correct footage.
In Final Cut Pro, you manually have to build some effects like film effects, which in Color are really one button pushes. Correction tracking is very cumbersome in Final Cut Pro, and what I mean by tracking a correction is having a correction follow a subject around on the screen. In Final Cut Pro, you end up having to do this with dozens if not hundreds of keyframes, which can be a pain. So of course, Color is not perfect. There are some limitations in Color. First and foremost, the biggest one is that Text, Motion, LiveType files, stills like JPEGs, Tiffs, and other Final Cut Pro generators do not appear in Color.
Although we will talk about shortly ways that this can be overcome. Because Color is a task specific application, there is not really any editing or digitizing. Instead it relies on Final Cut Pro to perform those tasks. Filters, transitions and supers are not previewed or rendered by Color. The only exception to that is the Color Corrector 3-way, which is translated into a correction in Color. But everything else doesn't come through to Color. It might show up in Color but like I said, it's neither previewed nor rendered there. A big limitation in Color is no FireWire output. Many users work with FireWire based cameras or decks, or maybe you even have an AJA Io, which is a FireWire interface box. Currently Color will not support these devices. The only way to get output from your Color system to an external monitor right now is via a PCI card. And for a lot of people that's going to be a big limitation but trust me, it's something that Apple probably has heard about once or twice and probably will work on very soon.
I would like to think about Color as the colorist's wish. And what I mean by that is if you spend more than 40% of your time correcting footage for exposure and/or color balance issues, choose Color. The toolset are available in Color is geared specifically for correction and you will find yourself being able to work a lot faster and a lot more efficiently, if you choose Color. Another big reason to choose Color and I think this is a big one for a lot of colorists, is that you will require an intuitive tactile control surface. Remember, a control surface is just a piece of hardware that gives you tactile control over parameters and functions within Color. And the next thing is just to expand your horizons. Even if you don't consider yourself a colorist, Color provides the tool set for expanded color correction versus Final Cut Pro.
Color for the most part is geared towards on task color correction and grading. What I mean by that is Color is an application build from the ground up specifically to do color correction and grading. Unlike Final Cut Pro, which is meant to do a lot of different things. And by becoming a master of Color, you will be able to provide your expert services. This may be another revenue stream for you in your business or it might just mean that you have another skill set that you can provide to any given project. So now that we have established some basic info, we are ready to jump into Color. Actually we are going to take a quick pit stop in Final Cut Pro first to understand what goes to Color and how it goes there. Then we will explore the basics of the Color interface. Yep, this is going to be exciting.
- Topics Include: Understanding the color-correction process Comparing Color to Final Cut Pro Understanding how Color thinks Making primary corrections Making secondary corrections Sending files back to Final Cut Pro