If you've ever wanted to know how to perform color corrections in Final Cut Studio, but thought it would be too difficult, this is the series for you. We're going to guide you through the process one step at a time.
In putting this together, we're working with Ernie Schaeffer, a fifteen-year media industry veteran, and a trainer with all4DVD.com. Schaeffer teaches classes on Final Cut Studio color correction at all4DVD's training center in Irvine, California. Visit the site for more information.
Color correction can make a huge difference in your work's impact, even with online video, and Color, a new member of the Final Cut Studio suite, makes color correction easy and intuitive. Color presents a workflow that guides you through the color correction process, and offers eyedropper controls that let you select exactly the colors you want to alter.
If you haven't bought FCS yet, Schaeffer says you should have a powerful Mac to run Color. He recommends you have a video card with 128MB of RAM or more, which means a relatively new Mac. You'll also need a three-button mouse for Color, he says. In System Preferences, set up the mouse so that the middle button is set as Button Three.
The First Room
Color works round-trip style with Final Cut Pro, meaning that it's easy to pass video back and forth between the two applications. When you're ready to correct your work's color, right-click on a sequence in the browser and choose to send it to Color. Name your project and click Okay.
When it opens in Color, you'll see your video on the left along with different scopes (instruments that measure the video signal). Along the top right are a series of tabs, including Setup, Primary In, Secondaries, Color Effects, Primary Out, Geometry, Still Store, and Render Queue. This are the various rooms within Color, and they offer a natural workflow. You'll see a timeline along the bottom, as with FCP. A left-click moves the playhead, a middle-click scrolls the timeline, and a right-click zooms in and out.
Click the Primary In tab and double-click the first shot in your timeline. This brings you to the primary color correction room, where you'll make your initial corrections, adjusting the amount of light and dark and getting the basic color set that you want.
In this room, you'll see three color wheels, with hue, saturation, and contrast sliders to the right of each wheel.
First, click the Contrast slider in the Shadow portion and drag it down until the shadows look how you want them. You can darken or lighten shadows, but people typically darken video to approximate the look of film, Schaeffer says.
Next, click the Contrast slider for Highlights and move it up or down to adjust the hotspot areas. You can tone down areas that are too bright, such as a blown-out sky, or raise the highlights if areas such as reflections are too dark.
After that, click the Midtone slider and adjust it to your taste. This is for bringing out the middle tones, which are typically the subjects (people, cars, and so on). Adjust the level to your preference.
Once you've made basic adjustments with all three, experiment with the color wheels. Click and drag the center dot to add in a color to the shadows, highlights, or midtones. If your work has a bluish cast, add yellow to the highlights to remove it.
At the top right of the screen you'll see a numeric field for saturation. Raise or lower this number to increase or drain the overall color in an image. Under the color wheels, you'll find histogram controls that let you work in curves. This should be familiar to Photoshop experts.
That's all for Part 1. Join us next week when we'll take you through making secondary color corrections.
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