Colour Grading in FCPx

Posted: March 9, 2015 by Alan Hardcastle in FDA 13_15, Media Production

I have been asked about Colour grading. Tip no.1 – always search for tips on Color Grading. I hate Americanisms as much as the next man, but hey – that’s the spelling in the best tutorials. And we are talking FCPX here.

Right – here goes my introduction to Colour Grading. We will be looking at this on FCPx as – well – it is just better than Premiere. Color was great, and all of the tweaks you could do in that are now part of FCPx. Tip No.2 – get an expert. It is a highly skilled job that, like music mastering, can seriously improve the overall feel of your product. Unfortunately, we don’t have the budget so lets dive into what we as low budget film makers need to know.

What is colour grading? It is altering the overall colour feel of the image. It could be adding warmth into a cool shot, or cooling down a warm shot to correct for poor colour balance. It could be altering the feel of the image by subtly altering the colour temperature. This often involves redefining what is white based on colour temperature, what is black, the saturation (how much colour is in the shot) and the hues (shifting the colours themselves).

It can mean saving the shot. Poor lighting can be compensated, but please avoid trying to fix it in post please!

Get the lighting right. You should not be saving your edit in Colour correction! Always light you shot and consider that you are handing this to someone else (even if it juts you in an edit suite) it is a different role. Consider your shot and your lighting, and use the camera correctly!

(NB you can skip right down if you just want to get to the nuts)

To start with, get the shot right – know what you want to achieve, experiment and focus: Not really much about Colour grading, but gives you an idea about what you need to be like when filming….

Guidance from a DP for setting up the shot:, Correcting issues in Post (Yes, Premiere), And using light to shape the image

(The Nuts….)

So, first we get the colour balance right correcting for colour Temperature.

Which leads us into actual colour grading. Remember, you can analyze footage during import into FCPx, and this can give you a starting point for your work. Note that there is a lot of control, and the best place to start is by looking at the footage, knowing what the tools do and experimenting.

And beyond that, using masks to help affect limited portions of the image…

And then we can start using it to stylize the image. If you look at Lord of the Rings, each distinct location has a different colour hue over the top – forests are green, Mordor is de- saturated etc. Matrix is another obvious one, with the Matrix having a green is tinge and the real world having a cold blue tinge. These are one way to stylize, but there are so many more!

And Finally, an application of how to use it as some quick tips…

To summarize:

Plan what you want to do, and light accordingly

Set up the camera properly….

Shoot for the colour grading









Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s