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color-correction.pngYou can find more color correction articles in our Color Correction & Manipulation series index.

I know we just kicked off another series yesterday, but variety is the spice of life: over the coming weeks, I'll be regaling you with a whole lot of how-to's around color correction.  Some will be more general, others -- like this one -- will be software-specific.

To break the ice, let's get acquainted with Final Cut's color correction workflow.  Since I'm not in the office right now with our sample footage, I've grabbed an awesome clip of sumo wrestlers off of Wikimedia Commons.  The clip is crap in more ways than one, but it could sure use a little color correction ...

Get the sample media (1.5M H.264 MOV)
I promise I'll come up with better sample clips next time

...then read on!
Our goal for today is simply to get the Final Cut interface ready to do color correction, then play.

  1. Pop open a new sequence, and drop the sumo video into your timeline.
  2. Double-click the sumo video to bring it into the Viewer.
  3. Apply the 3-Way Color Corrector filter to the clip.
    color-correction-in-fcp-3.png
  4. Enter the Color Correction workspace.  Notice the "Standard" setting in this menu -- that's how you'll get back to your regular workspace when you're done with this tutorial.
    color-correction-in-fcp-4.png
  5. Switch to the Color Corrector 3-Way tab in the Viewer (which is now the top-left pane on your screen).color-correction-in-fcp-5.png
Now breathe, and take a look around. 

color-correction-in-fcp-full-workspace.jpg

Heck, click and drag of one of those dots inside the rainbow circles -- first you'll notice your mouse moving "slower" than normal (this is by design) ... and then you'll quickly see that this is where you'll be making your actual color corrections.  Moving right, we see that the Canvas is now in the middle of the top row.  If you play with your playhead down in the timeline, you'll see that it's still connected to the image on the Canvas.  

Over at the top-right position, notice the Tool Bench.  This contains the real meat of the color correction workflow: your scopes and Frame Viewer.  As this series progresses, we'll be spending a lot of time over here, but for now, just experiment some.


If you want an exercise, notice how your vectorscope looks something like this:

color-correction-in-fcp-exercise.jpg

A colorist would look at this and go "euh?!"  Why?  To answer that question, try making the shot look more "normal" using only the rainbow circles.  Then notice how the glowy part of the vectorscope changed.  Hint: the purple line is important!

We'll be spending plenty more time learning the Vectorscope and the rest of the scopes, and exploring FCP's color correction interface.  If you sign up for one of our email lists (see the sidebar to the right), you'll be the first to know when each article comes out.  And if you'd like for me to cover anything in particular, please feel free to say so in the comments or email me directly -- I'm very open to suggestions!

While I've got my housekeeping hat on, I might as well take this opportunity to plug our online training and our Color classes -- I and our other color correction Geniuses are available and eager to help you one-on-one, and it's quicker and easier than trying to learn from reading alone.  Whew.  Good luck, folks!
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about.this

Adjusting Compressor's Settings: DVD Audio was the previous entry in this blog.

Bitrates, CBRs, and VBRs is the next entry in this blog.

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