Example: Using the Color Corrector Filter

The following example shows you how to use the Color Corrector filter to adjust a clip that’s incorrectly color balanced and underexposed. This example shows a simple use of color correction for a clip of a white cat on a white bedspread. The camera was incorrectly white-balanced during the shoot, and the shot is also underexposed. Using the Color Corrector filter, you can fix both these problems.

Figure. Viewer showing an image of a white cat and the Video Scopes tab in the Tool Bench showing all four scopes.
To use the Color Corrector Filter
  1. Move the playhead in the Timeline over the clip you want to work on so that you can see your changes output to video as you work.

  2. Select the clip in the Timeline, then apply the Color Corrector filter to the clip.

    For more information on applying filters, see Using Video Filters.

  3. Open the clip in the Viewer by double-clicking it, or by selecting it and pressing Return.

  4. Click the Color Corrector tab at the top of the Viewer to access the Color Corrector visual controls.

    Figure. Viewer window showing the Color Corrector tab.
  5. Choose Window > Arrange > Color Correction.

    The Video Scopes tab is now displayed in the Tool Bench window. While color correcting, it’s helpful to have the Video Scopes tab open to get a more detailed analysis of your video as you work.

  6. From the Layout pop-up menu of the Video Scopes tab, choose All to make sure that all the scopes are available.

    Now you’re ready to begin adjusting the image.

    Figure. Layout pop-up menu showing the All command.
  7. Click the Auto Contrast button to maximize the range from white to black in your clip.

    Figure. Auto Contrast button.

    The Whites and Blacks sliders automatically adjust themselves to achieve the best numeric distribution based on the luma levels shown in the Histogram. This gives you a starting point from which to proceed.

  8. Because the image is underexposed, adjust the Mids slider to bring more detail out of the shadows.

    Moving the Mids slider to the right moves the distribution of midtones farther to the right, as you can see in the Histogram. Lightening this shot using the Mids slider, as opposed to readjusting the whites, allows you to preserve the maximum amount of available detail in the image. Otherwise, boosting the whites might result in the lighter areas of your clip being blown out.

    Figure. Waveform Monitor showing a change in mids and the Histogram reflecting the change in midtone levels.

    Now it’s time to address the color. In the example, the white cat is tinted green because the video camera was white-balanced incorrectly.

  9. To compensate for the green tint, click the Auto-Balance eyedropper.

    Figure. Auto-Balance eyedropper.

    Note: When this button is selected, your pointer turns into an eyedropper when you move it into the Canvas.

  10. Click the eyedropper in an area of the picture that’s supposed to be pure white.

    Figure. Eyedropper showing the pointer positioned over a white area in the image.

    The Color Corrector filter automatically adjusts the Balance control to compensate for whatever tint exists in that area of the picture. In this example, click a highlight of the white bedspread.

    Remember, don’t select an area that’s overexposed, like a light source or a shiny highlight. This does not give you the result you want. Instead, select a properly exposed area of your picture that’s white, like a well-lit shirt sleeve or white wall. You may have to try several different spots to get the result you want; don’t hesitate to undo this operation and try again if you’re not satisfied with the results of your initial selection.

    Because the picture was tinted into the blues, when you click the eyedropper in part of the white bedspread, the color balance indicator moves into a mixture of red and yellow to turn the whites of the image into true white.

    Figure. Color Corrector tab showing the color balance indicator on the Balance wheel.

    You can see the correction in the Canvas.

    Figure. Canvas windows showing the before and after states of a color corrected image.

    Note: When using the Auto-Balance eyedropper, it’s important to recognize that the color temperature of the light illuminating the white area you select will affect the hue of the compensation that is made. For example, if the picture is lit with a combination of daylight and tungsten sources, selecting a part of the picture illuminated by daylight will result in compensating the overall color temperature of the image by adding more reds, whereas selecting a part of the picture illuminated by tungsten will result in adding more blues. In such a case, you need to simply pick the best possible compromise that looks right to you.

    In general, using the Auto-Balance eyedropper will get you close to where you need to be quickly and easily. However, to achieve the look you really want, you need to make further adjustments to the Balance control by hand.

  11. Click anywhere in the Balance color wheel and drag to move the color balance indicator relative to its previous position.

    Because you already used the Auto-Balance eyedropper to add more reds to compensate for the blues that you didn’t want, this will be your starting point as you work to achieve the particular effect you want for this scene. For example, you could drag the color balance indicator farther into the direction of magenta in order to make the image look a bit warmer and more inviting while preserving the corrected color balance.

    Because you’re not worrying about matching this image to any other shots right now, you can select whatever look you want. Whether you go warmer, cooler, or even into other more surreal balances of color is purely a creative choice at this point. If you’re going for a realistic look, however, it’s important to restrain yourself and stick to making subtle changes.

    Once you’ve achieved the color balance you want, it’s time to adjust the saturation of your clip to complete the look of the shot.

  12. Drag the Saturation slider to increase or decrease the saturation.

    Be careful when you do this. A common mistake beginners make is to automatically oversaturate shots to make them look “better.” While a highly saturated look is sometimes appropriate, less saturation may actually improve the look of your footage. This is especially true if you have a camcorder with artificially vivid color. In this case, it may be appropriate to desaturate the image somewhat to keep it from looking too “hot.”

    Note: As always, be careful to make adjustments to saturation only while looking at a properly calibrated broadcast monitor. It can be very tempting to oversaturate the colors of your clip based on the way video looks on a computer display. It’s a good idea to turn on the Excess Chroma option (in the Range Check submenu of the View menu) to keep yourself from inadvertently setting illegal chroma levels by boosting the saturation too high.