Written by Austin Powers
Color correction is often overlooked in the rush to finish a video project. Aside from fixing color flaws in the source footage, such as white balance mismatch between cameras, color correction can be used for artistic effect—even video from a Flip can look (somewhat) like a Hollywood movie with the right color correction. Final Cut Pro 7 offers powerful built-in color correction tools, but if you want to experiment with a professional-level color correction system, Apple’s Color is worth a shot.
As part of the Final Cut Studio 3 suite, Color works almost seamlessly with Final Cut Pro. Here’s how to take an edited sequence from Final Cut to Color and back again.
Preparing your Sequence
Once you are finished editing a sequence in Final Cut, select that sequence in the browser. Here, the sequence is called “Hallway Crowding”. Right-click the sequence, and click “Send To>Color”.
Final Cut will ask you to name the new Color project. It’s usually helpful to give it the same name as the sequence.
Working in Color
If you are starting Color for the first time, the program asks you to choose a location for its media and render directories. Keeping this directory inside your Final Cut project folder–wherever you are keeping the other media for your project—is a good idea.
Once Color opens, you will notice that your entire Final Cut sequence has been imported as one timeline of edited video. The Color timeline even retains the timecode of your Final Cut project.
I’ll go ahead and apply some Color FX to each video clip. Color offers a lot of flexibility, from these pre-built effects to complicated secondary color correction or selective color replacement. There are lots of great Color tutorials on the internet, including step-by-step instructions for achieving a particular “Hollywood Look”. It’s a powerful piece of software.
When you are done adjusting all of your clips, you need to render them in Color. You can do this one-by-one as you are working, but to make sure everything is rendered before you go back to Final Cut, it’s good to render this way once your project is finished:
Under the “Render Queue” tab, click “Add Unrendered”. This automatically adds any clips in the timeline that are not already rendered to the render queue.
All unrendered clips should have an orange bar above them in the timeline to indicate that they are unrendered, and a yellow bar under them to indicate they have been added to the render queue.
Once the clips have been added, click “Start Render” and watch Color work its way though each clip.
Getting back to Final Cut
Once everything is rendered, it’s time to go back to Final Cut. Select “File>Send To>Final Cut Pro”
You’ll automatically be switched over to Final Cut Pro, where a new sequence is being imported. It will show up as “Project name (from Color)”. Depending on what effects you had applied before sending your sequence to Color, you may have to re-render some of your clips within Final Cut. One clip in my sequence, for example, needs to be re-analyzed for motion stabilization.
That’s the whole trip from Final Cut to Color and back again. It’s not too complicated, and worth a shot if you want to experiment with color correction beyond the built-in tools Final Cut offers. Color is a really neat and capable tool, and it can give your piece the smooth, professional look everyone wants.