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Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #9

A few Color Correction workflow tips By Stephen Schleicher
A lot of you seemed to get a kick out of one of the previous installments of the Final Cut Pro Quick Tip series regarding how to save your favorite effects. I dropped a hint at how productive that could be when using the Color Correction filter that some of you have found to be very valuable. Here are a few more Color Correction workflow tips that might help out when you are polishing your masterpiece.


In most of our scenes our sequence might go something like this;
ABACAB (not a Genesis album title) . The first thing you should do is determine what shot is going to serve as the Master shot for the scene. In many cases this might be the very first shot of the sequence. Since the first shot of a scene is the one the audience will use as a reference for any shots following; it is always good to adjust that shot first and then the others. All subsequent shots should be balanced for the Master shot.


But when you have Shot B cued in the Canvas Window and you are tweaking it using the Filters Tab in the Viewer window, how can you compare it to Shot A (the Master shot)? When applying Color Correction, you can temporarily jump in the Timeline to other shots in the sequence. Control+up arrow will move the play head to the Out point of the shot that precedes the one you are working on. Control+down arrow will move the play head to the In point of the next edit. When you release the arrow key, the play head returns to the original location. Using the Control+Shift+up arrow will move the play head temporarily to the Out point two edits back, and the Control+Shift+down arrow will move the play head to the In point two edits forward. Knowing these keyboard shortcuts will be a real timesaver when you are performing color correction to your sequence.



The next step in the color correction process is to adjust the blacks and whites to increase the contrast of your shot. Once this is complete, you can adjust the color balance so your colors are true - you dont want your reds to be purple, etc.

When making adjustments to the contrast range or color balance of a shot, always make sure you are using the Vectorscope and Waveform monitors that come with Final Cut Pro. It might be helpful to use Final Cut Pros Three Up window configuration.





The nice thing about Final Cut Pro 3 is you can apply the same filter multiple times to any clip in the Timeline (see the FCP Quick Tip that discusses keying). The same can be done with Color Correction. Apply the filter as many times as needed to get the effect you desire. This is especially helpful when you are trying to take one color in your shot (a green Honda Civic) and are trying to change the color to something else (like yellow). With all of the subtle shades in nature, being able to dial out one entire range in one pass is going to be very difficult.

Once you have applied Color Correction to shot A in your sequence, how do you apply those same setting to the same shot that is two edits away? Or for that matter, what do you do if you want to apply the same filter settings to the very next shot to serve as a rough starting point? In addition to being able to click and drag the effect from the Filter window to the desired shot, you can also have Final Cut Pro perform the operation for you. The Copy Filter Controls allow you to Copy the current filter settings to the 1st clip ahead, or the 2nd clip ahead of the current clip. If you are on Shot C and want to borrow the setting from Shot A two shots ago, you can use the Copy From arrows to bring the information from the shot 1 or 2 clips back.



When you are satisfied with all of your color adjustments, make sure your sequence is still broadcast safe by using the Range Checker. If you find you have excess Luma or Chroma ranges, you can always apply the Broadcast Safe filter to any offending shot.

This should have been the very first workflow tip, but Ill mention it here; always make sure you are using a properly calibrated broadcast monitor when color correcting. If your monitor isnt properly adjusted, then any color correction you applied is worthless. Remember that the gamma differences between computer monitors, home television screens, and broadcast monitors vary greatly. What might look good on your computer monitor might be too bright and washed out on a regular TV.

Follow these guidelines and tips to improve your workflow and speed when working with Final Cut Pro 3.

Here is a current list of the Final Cut Pro Quick Tips to date:
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #1: Texture Treatments to Enhance Video Productions
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #2: Using Markers to Quickly Edit a Music Video
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #3: Import Your Music the Right Way
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #4: Nesting Helps Manage Longer Projects
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #5: Keying Explained
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #6: Configuring Your Scratch Disk
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #7: My Favorite Effects
Final Cut Pro Quick Tip #8: De-Interlacing

When not working deep in the labs of the DMN Central Division testing the latest and greatest software/hardware products Stephen Schleicher can be found at the local university teaching a few courses on video and web production. He can be reached at schleicher@mindspring.com. You can also visit him on the web at www.mindspring.com/~schleicher


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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

Related Keywords:Final Cut Pro, FCP, schleicher, color correction, workflow, apple, mac

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