The Color Correction Process
As mentioned earlier, color correction has several goals. To outline the process of color
correction, this section focuses on two of those goals:
Â Making the actors or key elements of your scene look the way they should
Â Determining the overall look that you want for the scenes making up your movie
Every video project consists of a series of scenes. Although scenes may differ in color
and tone—one scene taking place at night, the next one happening in the midday
sun—all the shots within a given scene should match. The goal is to make sure that the
transitions from shot to shot within a scene are smooth. If one shot is brighter or
redder than the one next to it, the result can be similar to a jump cut, distracting the
viewer and making your project look unprofessional.
The overall process of color correcting different shots in a scene to match one another
involves five steps.
To move the split screen, drag
a split-screen region to another
Pick the master shot of a scene to use as the basis for color correction
If you’re color correcting a scene consisting of a single shot, your job is pretty easy. All
you need to do is find the settings that work best for that one shot. Most scenes,
however, cut between a variety of different shots, such as close-ups, medium shots, and
wide shots. In every scene, there is usually a single wide shot that encompasses the
entire scene, called a master shot. Traditionally, the master shot is the first shot that is
taken for a scene, and it is used as the basis for that scene. After the master shot, you’ll
typically use a series of medium shots and close-ups. These other shots are called
coverage, because they’re often used to cover different edits made in the scene.
When you color correct a scene, you begin with the master shot, because that’s usually
the establishing shot of your scene. Using the master shot as the basis, you can then
make the colors of the coverage shots match those of the master.
Perform primary color correction
Primary color correction refers to two basic steps that you take using one of the
Final Cut Pro color correction filters. After you apply the Color Corrector or Color
Corrector 3-way filter, you’ll perform two steps:
Â Adjust the blacks and whites to maximize the contrast of your clip.
Essentially, you’re mapping the blackest black in your clip to a value of 0 and the
whitest white to a value of 100. By doing this first, you widen the range that an
underexposed image covers, or bring down overly bright (or super-white) areas of
overexposed video into the range considered to be broadcast-safe.
Â Use the appropriate color balance controls of the color correction filter to make
adjustments to the balance of reds, greens, and blues in your shot.
As you make these adjustments, you’ll want to view your clip on your broadcast video
monitor as well as check the clip’s luma and chroma levels in the Video Scopes tab to
make more informed modifications.
Add additional color correction as necessary
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything with a single
application of a color correction filter. For example, if you can’t get the colors in both
the dimly lit areas and the highlights of your clip right with a single filter, focus only on
the dimly lit area. You can then adjust the highlights with a second application of a
color correction filter.
Color Correction and Video Quality Control
The way this works is that each color correction filter has a set of Limit Effect controls
that you can use to isolate a region of your clip based on color, luma, saturation, or any
combination of the three. The Limit Effect controls work in much the same way as a
chroma or luma keyer, except that instead of keying the color out, they limit the effect
of the color correction filter to just that area. This way, you can target the green grass,
the highlights in the trees, and the red lipstick of an actor in the scene with three
separate filters, giving you an extremely fine level of control over your image.
Add other filters to address specific needs
After you’ve finished adding all the color correction filters necessary, you may find
yourself with some additional issues to resolve. Perhaps you can’t correct certain areas
of your clip without introducing unwanted color into the shadows or highlights. In this
case, you can use an additional filter, the Desaturate Highlights or Desaturate Lows
filter, to correct this quickly and easily. In another example, you may have discovered
that the combination of filters you’re using forces the chroma or luma to extend into
levels illegal for broadcast. In this situation, you can use the Broadcast Safe filter to
bring down the offending parts of the picture to acceptable levels.
Match the coverage of the scene to the master shot
Once you’ve finished defining the look of the master shot in your scene, you can move
on to the rest of the shots. It’s easy to copy the settings of the color correction filters
you’re using to other pieces of the same master shot that you may have used in the
same scene. For example, if you cut back to the master shot five times in your scene,
you can simply copy the filters from the first piece of the master shot you corrected to
all other instances used in your sequence.
As you move into the coverage shots used in the scene, you’ll probably repeat steps 2
through 4 for each shot. You can compare each new shot with the master shot that you
corrected, switching back and forth rapidly to compare the look of one clip with that of
the other. By comparing the clips’ values on the video scopes, you’ll see how you need
to adjust the color correction filters you apply to make the clips’ color, blacks, and
whites match as closely as possible.
Remember, once you finish correcting one segment of a given clip, you can apply those
same settings to all other segments in that scene from the same clip. If you apply
multiple color correction filters to one clip, you can also apply them all to other clips.