Blacks, Midtones, and Whites
In the Final Cut Pro color correction filters, most of the controls that you use to correct
your clips are divided into controls over blacks, midtones, and whites. These represent
different overlapping ranges of luma values in your image.
Blacks make up the minimum range of luma in your clip. If you looked on a smooth
gradient from black to white, controls that affect the blacks will affect your picture in
the leftmost three-fourths of the gradient, from black to gray. The effect that controls
have over the blacks of an image starts to diminish at approximately 75 percent luma,
shown above. This excludes the brightest parts of your image.
Midtones make up most of the gray tones of an image. On the same gradient, controls
that affect the midtones will affect the middle half of the gradient, excluding the
deeply white and black parts. The effect that controls have over the midtones of an
image starts to diminish at 25 and 75 percent luma, shown above. This excludes both
the brightest and darkest parts of your image.
Whites make up the maximum range of luma in your clip. On this gradient, controls that
affect the whites affect the rightmost half of the gradient, from gray to white. The effect
that controls have over the whites of an image starts to diminish at approximately
25 percent luma, shown above. This excludes the darkest parts of your image.
When you use controls that affect only one of these ranges, all changes made to the
hue, saturation, and luma levels of your picture happen exclusively in the area that falls
within that particular range of luma. This allows you to perform very targeted color
correction only where it’s needed, such as subtly manipulating the hue of the
highlights without touching the shadows, or vice versa.
Measuring and Setting Video Levels