With Color Curves, Color Wheels, and Hue/Saturation Curves, you can do advanced color grading within Final Cut Pro. Using these tools, you can adjust the color balance, shadow levels, midtone levels, highlight levels, and more of each clip or still image in your project.
Get Started with manual color correction
The overall look of your video begins with how your scenes are lit and shot during production. Then, while editing in Final Cut Pro, pick a master shot of a scene to use as the basis for color correction in the other clips. This way, you can create a consistent look across the shots in your project.
You can also use Final Cut Pro measurement tools like video scopes and range check overlay to make sure that the brightness (luma) and saturation (chroma) levels of your video are suitable for broadcast.
To get started with manual color correction, select a clip in the timeline and position the playhead so the clip appears in the viewer. Choose Window > Go To > Color Inspector (or press Command-6). In the Color Inspector, you can access these manual color correction tools:
- Color Board
- Color Wheels
- Color Curves
- Hue/Saturation Curves
To see a full height Inspector and display all controls for the selected color correction tool, double-click the top bar of the Inspector, choose View > Toggle Inspector Height, or press Control-Command-4.
Adjust the tint, chroma level, and luminance (luma) of a clip
With the Color Board, you can precisely adjust the tint, chroma level, and luma of a clip. Select a clip in the timeline, and position the playhead so the clip appears in the viewer. Click the No Corrections pop-up at the top of the Color Inspector, then choose +Color Board.
At the top of the inspector, click the button for the adjustment you want to make:
- To adjust the tint, click Color.
- To adjust the chroma level, click Saturation.
- To adjust the luma level, click Exposure
Then, drag a control up in the Color pane to add color to the image, or to increase the chroma or luma level in the Saturation or Exposure panes. Drag a control down to remove color, or reduce the chroma or luma level.
In the Color pane, drag the control left or right to choose the color to add or subtract. Any changes you make immediately appear in the viewer. To reset the values in each pane, click the reset button in the top-right corner. You can also affect specific areas of a clip using masks.
If you want to apply the same color correction effect the next or previous clip in the timeline, press Command-Right Arrow or Command-Left Arrow to quickly move the playhead to the next or previous clip and select it.
Adjust the mix of the red, green, and blue color components of a clip
You can use the Color Wheels to create an overall color balance using controls for the shadows, midtones, or highlights of a clip. To add Color Wheels, select a clip in the timeline, and position the playhead so the clip appears in the viewer. Then, click the pop-up menu at the top of the Color inspector and choose +Color Wheels. You can view all four Color Wheels at once, or one at a time. To see one Color Wheel along with its associated controls, click View, then choose Single Wheel.
For each Color Wheel adjustment (Master, Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights), drag the slider on the right of the wheel to adjust the brightness level of the clip, and the slider on the left of the wheel to adjust the saturation level. You can also adjust the hue of the clip by dragging the control in the center of the wheel.
Change the color temperature and tint
The Color Wheel effect includes color temperature and tint controls. To make the selected clip appear more natural, drag the Temperature control slider left or right.
To fine-tune the white balance of a clip, drag the Tint slider to the left to add a green tint to the image, and drag the slider to the right to add a magenta tint.
Adjust the hue of a clip
Once you’ve made all your Color Wheel adjustments, you might want to change the overall hue of the clip. Drag the Hue control to the left or right.
You can make fine numerical adjustments in the Color wheel by clicking a value and entering a new value, or dragging up or down.
Adjust the red, green, and blue components of a clip individually
You can use Color Curves to adjust the luminance, red, green, and blue components of a clip individually. This is different from using the Color Wheels, which simultaneously adjust the balance of a clip’s color components. You can also use the luminance curve to set the black and white points of a clip.
To add Color Curves, select a clip in the timeline, and position the playhead so the clip appears in the viewer. Click the pop-up menu at the top of the Color inspector, then choose +Color Curves. The default diagonal line for each curve shows the original state of the image. The shadows, mid-tones, and highlights are distributed along the curve from left to right.
Set the black and white points
Before you adjust the red, green, and blue components of a clip, make sure the black and white points of the clip fall within the allowable range for broadcast. You can use the waveform monitor to help.
Choose View > Show in Viewer > Video Scopes. If necessary, click the Scope menu, then choose Waveform. In the Luma curve, use the left control point to set the black point. Use the right control point to set the white point.
You can also create control points to adjust any area between the black and white points. Click on the curve, then drag to make adjustments. To reset the curve, click .
Adjust the intensity of a color channel
To adjust a color channel, drag a control point, or you can click in the curve to create additional control points. To narrow the tonal range of your adjustment, create multiple control points.
For example, you might want to only change the midtones and highlights of a clip. Add a control point to the left part of the curve (the shadows area). Add another control point to the right of that control point. When you adjust the rightmost control point, the shadows area remains unaffected.
Select a custom color to adjust
If you want to select a custom color to adjust, click at the top of a color curve. Then, click or drag in the viewer to select a specific color. The color curve changes to reflect the selected color. Any changes you make in that curve affect that color in the image.
Adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness of a color
For maximum control and precision for color correcting your project, use the Hue/Saturation Curves. With the Hue/Saturation Curves, you can adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness of any color in your project using the eyedropper. You can also adjust the saturation for a range of brightness or a range of saturation in a clip.
To get started, select a clip in the timeline, and position the playhead so the clip appears in the viewer. Click the pop-up menu at the top of the Color inspector, then choose Hue/Saturation Curves. To see a full height Inspector and display all the Hue/Saturation curve controls, double-click the top bar of the inspector.
Adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness of a color
To adjust the hue of a color, click in the Hue vs. Hue curve, then click or drag in the viewer to select a specific color. Three points appear on the curve in the Hue vs. Hue curve. Drag the middle control point to adjust the color you selected. The outer points can be adjusted to make the selection a narrower or wider range. To change the range of the hues, drag the two outer control points to the left or right, or delete them.
To make fine adjustments, hold Option as you drag. To constrain the control point to vertical or horizontal movement only, hold Shift while you drag.
To adjust the saturation, click in the Hue vs. Sat curve, then click or drag in the viewer to select a specific color. Three points appear on the curve in the Hue vs. Sat curve. Select the middle control point curve to increase or decrease the saturation of the selected color.
To adjust the brightness, use the Hue vs. Luma curve.
Adjust the saturation for a range of brightness or saturation in a clip
- With Luma vs. Sat, create special looks or make a clip broadcast-safe by reducing saturation of the color.
- With Sat vs Sat, create special looks by selecting and adjusting a range of saturation within the original overall saturation of a clip.
- With Orange vs. Sat, adjust the saturation of a specific color anywhere along the range of its shadows, midtones, or highlights. Use to select a specific color in the viewer to adjust. This control is great for skin tones, or for any last fine adjustment you would like to make to the image.
Add a color mask
When you add a color mask, your pointer changes to an eyedropper. Position the eyedropper on a color in the clip that you want to isolate. Then, drag to change the range of color included in the color mask. The image in the viewer becomes monochrome, except for the color you’re selecting.
You can add or subtract color shades to the mask. To add a shade, hold Shift, then drag on a color in the viewer. To subtract a shade, hold Option while dragging on a color.
To check the area affected by the color mask, click View Masks. A greyscale version of the image appears in the viewer (the alpha channel). White indicates the area affected by the mask. Black indicates the area not affected by the mask. Grey indicates areas that might be affected by the mask.
Save and apply color correction
You can save a clip’s color correction settings as a preset, making it easy to apply those settings to other clips in the same project or a different project. Final Cut Pro includes several presets you can use in addition to any that you create.
To save a color correction setting, click Save Effects Preset at the bottom of the Color inspector. Choose an existing category, or create a new one. Enter a name for the effect, then choose any of the attributes you want to include in the preset. Click Save.
To apply a preset to a clip, choose Window > Show in Workspace > Effects (or press Command-5). Drag the effect from the Effects browser to the clip in the timeline. Or, select a clip in the timeline, then double-click the effect in the Effects browser.
Color correction presets save the current Color, Saturation, and Exposure settings only. They do not save mask settings, including the setting that determines whether the area inside or outside the mask is affected.