COLOR GRADING IN FCPX AND FILM CONVERT
With the recent leap forward in digital cinema comes the ability to dramatically effect the image look and feel you desire for your projects. I was born in 1987, which means I have lived and worked in both the early stages of prosumer digital cinematography, all the way through todays available technology. One of the most incredible advancements being the ability to digitally manhandle the color of the video we create to effectively communicate the tone we wish to achieve.
With prosumer and professional editing platforms like Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Creative Suite, color grading programs such as Davinci Resolve, and affordable plugins(Film Convert), we are finally able to fine tune the color of each project with relative ease. The example of this I want to show you is of a recent video I did for a trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado. I shot this video on the Canon C100 Mark ii and edited and colored it in FCPX and Film Convert.
When we talk about color in a video, there are two main processes we need to quickly go over; color correction and color grading(or timing). Both are important for the post production process.
This post is not a tutorial, rather, a look into the ability we now possess to bring the true color and beauty back to the images we shoot.
COLOR CORRECTION refers to the process by which we bring back the true color of the image we have shot. Such as bringing back true whites, blacks, and skin tone to the image. As seen in these examples. Notice the subtle difference between the left and right sides when it comes to the color of the fur and skin tone. Both images were shot at the correct color temperature, but as you can see, there is still a certain blue tint to the image that isn’t natural.
Side note: On many professional cinema cameras we will have a multitude of options by which to capture, these are called color profiles. Some will put a color into the shot automatically and some will intentionally leave out a lot of color in order to allow the colorist to do the work in post production. This is the most popular choice because it gives the colorist the most information to work with.
COLOR GRADING refers to the work the colorist will do to achieve the “feel” that the image needs for the scene. Usually specific lighting effects, dramatic coloring, etc.. Here are some examples from the video that show how I was specifically trying to give the image a look.
Not all of the video needs to have a big change to the color. Some times it’s very subtle just to make the details pop a little.
The point is that we now are able to bring a new level of creativity to our craft for a relatively low price tag. But the biggest thing to remember about coloring your footage is that if it’s done right, it will go unnoticed. With every aspect of storytelling the goal is the same; to tell the story without distracting the viewer with HOW you told the story. So be careful not to get color happy with your footage. Keep it simple and specific and you will be just fine.
Here are both the final cut and the comparison videos for your enjoyment. You will notice which clips needed more color correction than others.
Stephen Morgan is the creative director for Studiotown, a full service production company out of Jacksonville, Florida. Studiotown specializes in cinematic production services that span from film to commercial production.