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FCP X Tutorial: New Primary Colour Correction Tools, Part 3: Color

This exercise follows on from the previous 2nd of 3, FCP X Tutorial: New Primary Color Correction Tools, Part 2: Saturation.

First let me make clear that while FCP X has some really very simple and effective Auto Color Balance workflows this exercise is designed to get you started when those Auto workflows haven’t been successful. Or perhaps you're interested in creating a particular look for your footage. 


Step 1 - Setting up your Workflow

Let's start by selecting a clip in the timeline and calling up the FCPX Color Board. Last exercise we opened the color board by clicking on the Enhancements button. This time let's explore another method. 

Click the Inspector button to reveal the inspector. The Inspector contains a whole host of parameters that will modify your clip, something similar to the Viewer tabs in FCP7. Among them you will find Color. One of the options inside this color panel is Corrector 1. 

Note: next to it you can see a small color wheel. Click on the wheel to activate the color board. From the tabs at the top of the color board display make sure you select Color. A different but just as effective method, you decide which one you prefer. 


Step 2 - Understanding the Tools

You're now ready to begin adjusting your color. Firstly let's try to fathom out what you're looking at. The color board is a replacement for the color wheel. It does look different but does the same job. 


Notice the 4 handles? If you’ve already read the previous 2 tutorials you will be a little more familiar with them. There are 3 handles that control the color balance of the Shadows, Mid-tones and Highlights (as reflected in the handles’ color) and one Global handle that can be used to control all 3 levels at once. Right now those handles are sitting in neutral, having no effect on your footage, and for now we're going to leave them that way.

Before we start making changes to the color balance of our clip it's best we start to understand just what the problem might be. To do this we need to activate our scopes.


From the Viewer pop up choose 'Show Video Scopes', and as always the Histogram will open. Now the histogram is an option to use when managing color, but in general terms most video color is controlled using the Waveform, so we will stick with that. From the Video Scope settings menu choose Settings > Display > Waveform to switch the display to waveform. Then in order to best utilize the information provided in the waveform choose Settings > Channels > RGB Parade


The RGB parade displays the levels of Red, Green and Blue in a layout that makes it very easy to compare and contrast all 3 at the same time. 

Tip: For a more detailed view you can switch your channels to view them individually, but for this exercise the parade makes most sense. 


In this image there is too much blue and possibly red, and not enough green. The RGB Parade displays that clearly. 


Where as, when the image is balanced for color correctly like in this image the levels in the RGB Parade are far more balanced. Lets take a look at how we used the Color Board to achieve that balance. 


Step 3 - Simple Color Balancing  

Lets start by reducing a color from the shadows, to repair the above image I will start with blue. Move the shadows handle towards the blue shades and pull down. As a result the blue hue will begin to reduce in the darker areas of the shot. 


The RGB Parade will show this happening, stop when the base of the blue parade is at a similar level to the Red and Green. 

Tip: Always start with shadows first as they have a stronger pull than the others, Not starting with the shadows might result in the Highlight settings shifting accidentally for example.

Next try the highlights handle, in the case of this image the blue RGB parade indicates that there is to much blue in the highlights. Again moving the highlight handle to the blue hues and pulling down will repair the problem. 


The mid-tone handle is a great tool for dealing with overall color casts (a term referring to a colour washing through your footage). The mid-tone handle can influence up to 70% of your overall color balance. Moving the Mid handle towards the green hue and pushing it up completes the balance by increasing the green highlight levels and counteracting the red. leveling out the RGB Parade. 

Check out Michael Wohl's famous Final Cur Pro X video tutorials for more info!

David Smith

David Smith | Articles by this author

David Smith is Scotland's most qualified Apple and Adobe certified trainer. Having completed his education at Edinburgh College of Art's BAFTA winning Film School, David moved straight into TV production, first as a Vision Mixer then quickly becoming, at the age of just 24, a director of live TV studio productions. In 2001 he moved into Higher Education where he became a lecturer in TV Production, specializing in post-production and live studio production. During this time, and working with the support of the BBC, Channel 4 and independent production companies, David was instrumental in the design, development and implementation of industry-approved vocational courses across Scotland's Colleges. In 2006, after working closely with Apple Computers to create a unique multimedia studio for education at the Music and Media Centre in Perth, David became Scotland's first Apple-Certified Trainer for Pro Apps. This led on to David forming the first Apple Authorized Training Centre for Education, north of Manchester. In 2008 David made the move to full time training and joined the ranks at Academy Class, Ltd. where he continues to train industry professionals as a certified trainer across the Adobe Creative Suite and Apple Pro Apps range.

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