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Using Color Masks in Final Cut Pro X

Learn how to color correct video using color masks within Final Cut Pro X.

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Using Color Masks in Final Cut Pro X provides for an easy way to adjust specific areas of color without affecting other colors within a video image.

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Final Cut Pro X has some amazing tools that you can use for color correction.

Check out this short project.

Okay, lets focus on this shot of the sailboat.

We can improve the color balance of this shot by increasing the color saturation.

To start, navigate to the window menu and select show video scopes.

The default setting for video scopes shows a histogram.  

In a simple sense, the histogram shows a visual impression of color data.

In the upper right corner of the video scopes window click on the settings tab and choose waveform.

This is used to display the voltage level of the video signal.

The basic idea here is to make sure you are using the full range of luminance values.

Off to the left side, a zero value represents super black, and 100 represents super white.  

These units are called IRE units, which stands for the Institute of Radio Engineers.

So if you look at the waveform for this particular clip, there is some room for improvement.

Navigate to the window menu and select go to color board.

At the top of the color board window, you will see adjustments for color, saturation and exposure.

Let’s start by adjusting the exposure.

To increase the brighter areas click on the highlights parameter.

Nudge the circle for the highlights up until the voltage level approaches 100 units on the IRE scale.

Then click on the shadows parameter.

Nudge the circle for the shadows downward until the voltage level approaches 0 IRE.

Now that we’ve improved the exposure, navigate to the window menu and hide the video scopes.

Move back over to the top of the color board and click on the color button.

Notice how you have the same four parameters for making adjustments in terms of color.

Select the mid-tones option.  

This option will affect everything in between the dark areas and the bright areas of the image.

If I move the circle above the center dividing line within the color board, now how this adds more blue to the entire image.

So check this out, let me reset the adjustment by clicking on this curved arrow in the upper right corner of the color board.

Okay, now click on this slide arrow in the upper left to move into the inspector window.

Within the color parameter, click on the word ‘show’ to display additional options.

Then click on the add color mask eye dropper within the Color Correction 1 parameter.

Move over to the viewer window and click and drag to select a specific area of color.

In this case, I’m trying to select just the blue area of the water.

Now move back over to the inspector window and click on this slide arrow to move back to the color board.

At the bottom of the color board, you’ll see two additional options for inside mask and outside mask.

Make sure the inside Mask option is selected.

Then click on the option to adjust the mid-tone colors.

Now go ahead and adjust the circle for the mid-tones upward within the color board.

Notice how it’s only adjusting the area of the water based on the color mask that you selected.

Okay, fantastic!

Now you have the basics of using the color board.

If you found this tutorial helpful, take a look at GeniusDV’s online Final Cut Pro X Training.

It includes a lifetime membership with access to over 60 lectures that include practice media and project files.

Plus, you will have the ability to ask questions, and take notes as you go through the class.

Or, if you need hands-on training in a real class-room , check out or 5 day Final Cut Pro / Motion class.

Visit GeniusDV.com to sign up.





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Autosave in Avid Media Composer was the previous entry in this blog.

Removing Noise in Adobe Premiere is the next entry in this blog.

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