Example: Color Correcting a Three-Shot Sequence for Continuity

Now that you’ve examined the specifics of using the Final Cut Pro color correction filters, you are ready to use these filters to make a series of three shots in a scene match one another. In the three shots shown in this example, two shots are taken from the same clip, and one is an insert shot taken from a completely different clip.

To color correct a three-shot sequence
  1. Apply the appropriate color correction filter to all the shots in the sequence.

    Figure. Timeline window showing three selected clips having a color correction filter applied to them.

    This makes it easy to use the Copy Filter controls to copy filter settings from one clip to another as you make your adjustments.

  2. Choose Window > Arrange > Multiple Edits to select the Multiple Edits window layout.

    This is a useful layout for comparing multiple clips in a scene.

    Figure. Final Cut Pro main interface showing a Multiple Edits layout.
  3. Choose Open from the Playhead Sync pop-up menu in the Viewer or Canvas (choosing an option from the pop-up menu in either window sets both to the same playhead sync mode).

    This way, whichever clip is at the position of the playhead is automatically opened in the Viewer. If all three clips have color correction filters applied to them and a Color Corrector or Color Corrector 3-way tab is selected in the Viewer, the Viewer always displays the color correction filter for the clip at the current position of the playhead.

    Note: For more information about the Playhead Sync pop-up menu, see Matching Frames and Playhead Synchronization.

  4. In the Timeline, move the playhead to the first clip of the scene (for this example, the master shot) to open it in the Viewer. (With the Playhead Sync pop-up menu set to Open, the clip automatically opens in the Viewer.) Then click the color correction tab in the Viewer to show the visual controls for that clip’s color correction filter.

    Note: Make sure that the playhead in the Timeline is over the first clip so that you can see your adjustments output to your broadcast monitor as you make your corrections.

    Figure. Timeline window with the playhead positioned in the first clip.
  5. Perform your color correction. In this case, you’ll want to add a mix of blue and cyan to cool down the shot of the woman on the balcony to match the tone of the shot around the corner.

    Figure. Whites color wheel showing the whites being adjusted and the resulting image appearing in the Canvas window.

    Because the third shot in the sequence comes from the same clip as the first shot, you’ll want to use exactly the same color correction settings to ensure continuity.

  6. Apply the filter settings from the current clip to the third shot of the sequence using the Copy To 2nd Clip Forward button (Control-5) or the Drag Filter button.

    Figure. Drag Filter button and Copy to 2nd Clip Forward button in the Viewer.
  7. In the Timeline, position the playhead over the second clip so that it opens in the Viewer.

    Figure. Timeline window showing the playhead positioned in the second clip.

    There are three approaches you can take to compare the colors of the first and second shots:

    • Hold down the Control key while pressing and releasing the Up Arrow key to flip back and forth between this clip and the first one to see the differences in color and luma levels in the Canvas. As you do this, the image on your external video monitor updates to show these two images. By flipping back and forth quickly, you can spot differences in hue and contrast.

    • With Final Cut Pro set to the Multiple Edits window layout, compare both clips side by side on your computer screen. The previous clip appears in the Frame Viewer 2 tab to the left, while the current clip appears in the Canvas. Although this won’t give you as accurate a view of your clip as will looking at it on an external video monitor, you can still compare the relative differences between the clips.

    • Put the Frame Viewer 2 tab into split-screen mode. Clicking the V-Split or H-Split button splits the Frame Viewer in half, by default showing the previous edit on the left or top, and the current frame at the position of the playhead on the right or bottom. This allows you to closely compare elements in both clips. The split screen can be freely adjusted horizontally, vertically, or as a rectangular picture within a picture that can be moved anywhere within the frame.

      Figure. Frame Viewer in split-screen mode.

    Tip: To view the contents of a Frame Viewer tab on an external video monitor, select the Frame Viewer tab you want to view and press Shift-F12.

    For more information on using the Frame Viewer, see Comparing Two Frames in the Frame Viewer.

    As you compare adjacent clips in your sequence, remember to pay attention to the video scopes. With Final Cut Pro set to the Multiple Edits layout, you can select the Video Scopes tab in the far-right Tool Bench window.

    Figure. Final Cut Pro main interface in the Multiple Edits layout showing the Frame Viewer in split screen mode and the Video Scopes tab.

    Note: The Video Scopes tab can be set to display the same choice of edit points as the Frame Viewer tab. If you have a large enough display, you can create a custom layout with multiple video scopes, each corresponding to a Frame Viewer tab showing the same edit point.

    Using the video scopes, you can quickly pinpoint specific differences between these shots that may be difficult to figure out visually. For example, the Histogram and Waveform Monitor show that the second shot is a little darker than the first. Pay particular attention to the spike in the middle of the Histogram. By comparing the difference between the size and location of each spike, you can adjust the level sliders to compensate.

    Figure. Two Video Scope tabs showing the Histogram representations of the first and second clips.

    Using information from the Video Scopes tab, you can adjust the Whites and Mids sliders to make the two spikes of the Histogram match more closely, so you get comparable luma levels. Moving one invariably results in some movement in the other, but keep making your adjustments until the Histogram for the second shot approximates the Histogram for the first shot.

  8. With this accomplished, focus on the RGB Parade scope. It shows that the second clip has far more blue and green than the first.

    Figure. RGB Parade scopes showing a comparison of the first and second clips.

    Adding progressively more cyan to the midtones brings the hues of the two shots closer to one another. As you adjust the Mids control, continue comparing the previous shot and the current shot as outlined in step 7. Continue to make adjustments until the shots match as closely as you need them to.

    Note: Remember that your goal, in this case, is to balance all the shots in the scene so that as the sequence plays, no one shot stands out from any of the others.

    Figure. Frame Viewer windows and the Canvas window showing color-balanced images.