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Final Cut Tutorial: How to create the Schindler's List / Pleasantville single color isolation effect
Rounik Sethi on Wed, December 29th 0 comments
Jaw-dropping visual effects and animation in film are becoming more and more sophisticated and more expensive. It seems every year it requires more wizardry and money to create a sense of awe and wond

Jaw-dropping visual effects and animation in film are becoming more and more sophisticated and more expensive. It seems every year it requires more wizardry and money to create a sense of awe and wonder for the audience. Creating a dramatic visual effect doesn't need to cost you an arm and a leg though... With a little imagination and Final Cut Pro, Motion and other Video Editing packages you can create memorable effects that generate an emotive reaction.

One such effect that had a lasting impression on me was the color isolation effect also known as the  "Schindler's List" effect where everything is black and white except for the red coat of a young girl. You may also know this as the "Pleasantville effect" or "Sin City effect".

Read on to find out how to re-create this effect in your own footage using Final Cut Pro's Color Correction tools.

This effect works best with footage where the color you wish to emphasize (e.g. the Moscovy Duck's distinctive red plumage around it's head and neck area in the image below) is the only instance of that color in the shot.

01 - Add the Color Corrector Effect

With your clip in the Sequence, navigate to the Effects Tab in the Browser and drag the Color Corrector effect onto the Canvas window. This adds the effect to your Sequence.

02 - Expand the Color Corrector

In the Viewer Window, click on the 'Color Corrector' tab to view it's settings. Now click on the small gray disclosure triangle (bottom left - next to 'Limit Effect'). This will show all the hidden Limiting Effect controls which we'll need to access.

03 - Select a Color

Click on the Eye-Dropper (Select color) under the 'Limit Effect' area and choose a color from the canvas window. In this example I chose one of the shades of red. Notice that the limit Effect bar becomes active.


You might need to click a few times with the Eye Dropper tool to select the desired color.

04 - First Isolate and Remove the Color

We're going to remove the color we want before inverting the color selection.

Lower the Saturation slider to 0 and untick/uncheck the boxes next to 'Sat' and 'Luma'. Next, drag the sliders in the Limit Effect bar to increase the range of shades/colors which are included.


The color you have selected will turn a grey color. You may need to play with the Limit Effect slider to make sure the color you have selected does not remove any skin tone or other aspects of your footage. You can always increase the Limit Effect colors later... so it's better to apply more conservative settings now.

05 - Invert Selection

Now click on the 'Invert Selection' button (bottom right button in the Color Corrector - under the Key button).


The clip should become black and white with only the desired color you previously selected visible.

Play with the Edge Thin slider and Softening to help the color blend in or use these controls to create a more dynamic effect!

If you have any tips to share let us know in the comments below and to learn more be sure to check out these Final Cut tutorials here.

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