Why Color Correct Your Footage?
There are a number of reasons why you may want to color correct your footage:
Â Make sure that key elements in your program look the way they should: Every scene of
your program has key elements that are the main focus of the viewer. In a narrative
or documentary video, the focus is probably on the people in the shot. In a
commercial, the key element is probably a product shot, such as the label of a bottle
or the color of a car. Regardless of what these key elements are, chances are you or
your audience will have certain expectations of what they should look like. You can
use color correction to make the colors reproduced by video match what was
With people shots, one of the guiding principles of color correction is to make sure
that flesh tones on tape look the same as in real life. Regardless of race, the hues of
human flesh tones, when recorded to videotape and measured on a vectorscope, fall
along a fairly narrow range (although the saturation and brightness vary).
Final Cut Pro color correction tools allow you to make whatever adjustments are
necessary to ensure that the flesh tones of people in your final edited piece look the
way they do in reality.
Â Balance all the shots in a scene to match: Most edited programs incorporate footage
from a variety of sources, shot in multiple locations over the course of many days,
weeks, or months of production. Even with the most skilled lighting and camera
crews, differences in color and exposure are bound to occur, sometimes within clips
meant to be combined into a single scene. When edited together, these changes in
color and lighting can make individual shots stand out, so the editing appears to be
uneven. With careful color correction, all the different clips that make up a scene can
be balanced to match one another so that they all look as if they’re happening at the
same time and in the same place, with the same lighting.
Â Correct errors in color balance and exposure: Accidents can happen in any shoot. For
example, you may have forgotten to white balance your video camera before
shooting an interview in an office lit with fluorescent lights, resulting in footage with
a greenish tinge. Final Cut Pro color correction filters give you an exceptional degree
of control over the color balance and exposure of your clips, allowing you to fix these
kinds of mistakes. In many cases, such accidents can be minimized, if not eliminated,
through the careful application of color correction filters.
Â Achieve a “look”: The process of color correction is not simply one of making all the
video in your piece match some objective model of black, white, and color tones.
Color, like sound, is a property that, when subtly mixed, can result in an additional
level of dramatic control over your program.
With color correction, you have control over whether your video has rich, saturated
colors or a more muted look. You can make your shots look warmer by pushing their
tones into the reds, or make them look cooler by bringing them into the blues. You
can decrease the contrast of your clips, pulling details out of the shadows, or increase
your contrast for a harsher look. Such subtle modifications can alter the audience’s
perception of the scene being played, changing the mood of your program. Once
you pick a look for your piece, or even for an individual scene, you can use color
correction to make sure that all of the shots in the appropriate scenes match, so that
they cut together smoothly.
Â Create contrast or special effects: Color correction can also be used to create contrast
between two scenes for a more jarring effect. Imagine cutting from a lush, green
jungle scene to a harsh desert landscape that’s much more in the reds and yellows.
Using color correction, you can subtly accentuate these differences. You can also
create more extreme effects, such as manipulating colors and exposure to achieve a
day-for-night look. You can even selectively target a narrow range of colors to alter or
replace only those color values, turning a red car blue, for example.