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Color correction in Final Cut Pro X

Mark Spencer | June 7, 2013
Color correction--also known as color grading or color timing--is the process of altering the brightness and color values of an image or video. While many of today's modern video cameras (and still cameras that shoot video) can produce great-looking shots automatically, sometimes you'll still want to manipulate the color "in post." Common reasons for doing so include:

Now, use the Settings menu to select the Histogram, and set it to the RGB Parade. This scope displays the red, green, and blue components of the image separately so that you can see how much of each is contained in the shadows, midtones, and highlights as you move across the graph. The example image is pretty evenly balanced, but in this case let's see if we can make a more dramatic shot.

The idea here is to adjust the hue of the shot by dragging the controls up into the color you want to add. Dragging the midtones control up into the reds will warm up the green leaves, creating a feeling of a warm October afternoon. Dragging the shadows control up into the blues will give dark areas of the grapes a rich, vibrant shade.

With this initial pass completed, it's important to check the correction against the original image. Our eyes adjust quickly to changes in contrast and color, and it's easy to overcorrect a shot. Click the left-facing arrow at the top left of the Color Board to return to the Video Inspector, and click the blue box to toggle the correction on and off.

If you are happy with the result, you can now save this correction as a preset (by returning to the Color Board, clicking the Preset button at the bottom, and giving it a name), or you can simply copy the correction from this clip and use Edit > Paste Attributes to apply it to other clips in your project.

Next steps: going deeper
There's a lot more to color correction, such as applying multiple corrections to a clip, using masks and color ranges to color parts of a clip selectively (a process known as secondary color correction), and using another Viewer window to assist in matching shots to each other. Final Cut Pro X has all the tools to accomplish these tasks and others. I encourage you to experiment with the Color Board and discover how you can start to color-correct your own shots.


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