How to Create Color FX

The Color FX room is not a compositing environment in which you combine multiple images together. The only image you can bring into this room for processing is that of the current shot. You create effects by assembling one or more image processing nodes into node trees; these work together to reprocess the image in different ways. For more information, see:

How Node Trees Work

In the Color image processing pipeline, the Color FX room processes the image as it appears after whatever corrections have been applied in the Primary In and Secondaries rooms. Unattached node inputs automatically connect to the state of the image as it’s affected by the Primary In and Secondaries rooms. This is how each node tree begins, with an empty input that’s automatically connected to the corrected image.

Figure. Color FX node with unattached input and output.

Note: The sole exception to this is the Color node, which generates a frame of solid color that you can use with multi-input math nodes to tint an image in different ways.

To perform more operations on an image, you simply add more nodes, connecting the outputs of previously added nodes to the inputs of new nodes using noodles.

Figure. Attaching one node's output to another node's input with a noodle.

You can think of a node tree as a waterfall of image processing data. Image processing operations begin at the top and cascade down, from node to node. Each node exerts its effect on the image that’s output from the node above it, until the bottom is reached, at which point the image is at its final state.

The very last node in any node tree must be the Output node. This is the node that sends the image that’s been processed by the Color FX room back into the Color image processing pipeline. If there is no Output node, or if the Output node is disconnected, then the node tree will have no effect on that shot, and its effect will not be rendered by the Render Queue.

Figure. Adding an Output node to the end of a node tree.

Note: A CFX bar will only appear in the grades track of the Timeline for clips with connected Output nodes. For more information on correction bars in the Timeline, see Basic Timeline Elements.

Node Inputs and Outputs Explained

Single input nodes take the image and perform an operation upon it. Single input nodes can only process one incoming image at a time, so you can only connect a single noodle to any one input.

Figure. Single input node.

Multi-input nodes are designed to combine multiple variations of the image in different ways, in order to produce a single combined effect. These nodes provide multiple inputs so that you can connect multiple noodles.

Figure. Multi-input node.

Any node’s output, on the other hand, can be connected to multiple nodes in order to feed duplicate versions of the image as it appears at that point in the tree to multiple operations.

Figure. Connecting a single output to multiple node inputs.

When you position the pointer over any node’s input, a small tooltip appears that displays its name. This helps you to identify which input to connect a node to so you can achieve the result you want.

Figure. Tooltip displayed when the pointer is over a node's input.

Creating and Connecting Nodes

In this section, you’ll learn the methods used to add, delete, and arrange nodes to a tree to create any effect.

To add a node to the Node view along with an automatically attached Output node
  • Drag the first node you create from the Node list into the Node view.

    Figure. Adding a node with an output node automatically attached.

    The first node you drag into the Timeline from the Node list always appears with an Output node automatically connected to it.

To add a new node to the Node view
Do one of the following:
  • Double-click any node in the Node list.

  • Select a node from the Node list, then click Add.

  • Drag a node from the Node list into the Node view.

    New nodes always appear disconnected in the Node view.

To insert a new node between two nodes that are already connected
  • Drag a node from the Node list on top of the noodle connecting any two nodes, and drop it when the noodle turns blue.

    Figure. Inserting a node.
To automatically attach a new node to the input or output of a previously created node
  • Drag a node from the Node list so that the hand pointer is directly on top of a disconnected input or output, then drop it.

    Figure. Attaching a node to an input or output.

    The new node appears with a noodle connecting it to the node input or output you dropped it onto.

To delete one or more nodes from the Node view
  • Select one or more nodes in the Node view, then press Delete or Forward Delete.

    The node disappears, and any noodles that were connected to it are disconnected.

To connect the output of one node to the input of another
  • Drag a noodle from the output of one node to the input of another.

    Noodles are green while they’re being created, but turn gray once they’re connected.

    Figure. Comparing a selected noodle (green) with an unselected noodle (gray).
To disconnect a node from the one above it
Do one of the following:
  • Click the input of any node with a connected noodle to disconnect it.

    Figure. Disconnecting a node by clicking.
  • Drag a noodle from the input of the node you want to disconnect to any empty area of the Node view.

    Figure. Disconnecting a noodle from a node's input.

    Tip: If you want to eliminate the effect a node is having without deleting or disconnecting it, you can turn on its Bypass button, at the top of the Parameters tab. For more information, see Bypassing Nodes.

When you’re working on large node trees, it pays to keep them organized so that their operation is clear.

To rearrange nodes in the Node view
Do one of the following:
  • Drag a single node in any direction.

  • Drag a selection box over a group of nodes, then drag any of the selected nodes into any direction to move them all together.

Adjusting Node Parameters

The operation of most nodes can be customized using parameters that vary from node to node, depending on a node’s function. All node parameters appear in the Parameters tab, to the left of the Color FX bin.

To show any node’s parameters in the Parameters tab
  • Click once on the node you want to edit.

    Selected nodes appear highlighted in cyan, and if a selected node has any parameters, they appear to the right, ready for editing. You can edit node parameters the same way you edit parameters in any other room.

    Figure. Selected nodes appear cyan.

You can also choose the point in a node tree at which you want to view the image.

To show the image being processed at any node in the Node view
  • Double-click the node you want to view.

    The currently viewed node appears highlighted in yellow, and the image as it appears at that node in the tree appears in the onscreen preview and broadcast output displays.

    Figure. The currently viewed node appears yellow.

    Note: Because double-clicking a node loads its image and opens its parameters in the Parameters tab, it appears with a blue outline as well.

For more information on making adjustments to a node while viewing the effect on another node downstream in the node tree, see Viewing a Node’s Output While Adjusting Another’s Parameters.

Viewing a Node’s Output While Adjusting Another’s Parameters

When you’re creating multinode effects, it’s often valuable to view a node that appears at the bottom of the node tree while you’re adjusting a node that’s farther up the tree. This way you can adjust any parameter while viewing its effect on the entire tree’s operation.

In the following example, a high-contrast gauzy look is created with a series of nodes consisting of the B&W, Curve, and Blur nodes on one side (to create a gauzy overlay), and a Bleach Bypass on the other (providing high contrast), with both sides connected to a Multiply node to create the gauzy combination.

As you fine-tune this effect, you want to adjust the amount the black-and-white image contributes to the final effect by adjusting the Curve node, but you need to view the output of the Multiply node in order to see how far to make the adjustment. In this case, you double-click the Multiply node so that it becomes the viewed node (highlighted in yellow).

Figure. Double click the Multiply node to view it.

Then, click the Curve node once to load its parameters into the Parameters tab. (The node becomes highlighted in cyan.)

Figure. Single click the Curve node to open its parameters.

Bypassing Nodes

Each node has a Bypass button that appears at the top of its list of parameters. Click Bypass to turn off the effect that node has on the tree without deleting the node from the Node view.

Figure. The bypass button.

Bypassed nodes are outlined with an orange dotted line.

Figure. Bypassed nodes shown with orange dotted outline.

If you want to suspend the effect of an entire node tree without deleting it or individually turning on each node’s Bypass button, you must disconnect the Output node entirely.

Cutting, Copying, and Pasting Nodes

You can cut, copy, and paste selected nodes in the Color FX room. Using the Copy and Paste operations, you can duplicate one or more nodes whenever necessary. This can be especially useful when creating color effects for projects using interlaced media. (For more information, see Using Color FX with Interlaced Shots.)

To cut one or more selected nodes
  • Choose Edit > Cut (or press Command-X).

    The selected nodes are removed from the Node view, and are copied to the Clipboard.

To copy one or more selected nodes
  • Choose Edit > Copy (or press Command-C).

    The selected nodes are copied to the Clipboard.

To paste nodes that you’ve previously cut or copied
  • Choose Edit > Paste (or press Command-V).

    New instances of whichever nodes were previously cut or copied to the Clipboard appear in the Node view.