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Review: Color Correcting DVD Tutorial for Final Cut Pro 3

February, 2003

Color Correction for Final Cut Pro
Color Correcting DVD Tutorial for Final Cut Pro 3


By DigitalFilm Tree
System requirements: DVD ROM drive.
Price $ 69.95
Ship Date: February 14, 2003



Review By Ken Stone

The Final Cut Pro 3 release was packed with some very powerful Color Correcting tools. Two and Three way Color correctors, Range Check tools, Broadcast Safe filters and a Tool Bench full of scopes. For the experienced and seasoned Colorist, having these tools was all that was needed. But what about the rest of us?

Been a long time coming, but like all good things, it has has been worth the wait. I just received the 'Color Correcting DVD Tutorial for Final Cut Pro 3' from DigitalFilm Tree, hosted by Steve Martin. It is obvious that a great deal of time and work (and love) went into building this product. It is well planned and executed, with a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes. The DVD also contains about 2 gigs of companion tutorial material, DV NTSC. Drag this folder from the DVD to your hard drive, open and simply click on the Project file. FCP will launch the project, the Browser will contain all the clips you need to work in tandem with the lessons.

Each area of importance has been broken down into its own lesson. Navigation through the tutorial works well, the production values are very high, the writing exceptional. With Steve Martin as our host and instructor, the classes are enjoyable. Okay, lets take a look.

Color Correcting for FCP is divided into Five basic sections or topics, each section is divided into lessons.

  • Color Basics
    1. What is Color
    2. Goals of Color Correcting
    3. Calibrating Your Monitor
  • Monitoring
    1. Using Video Scopes
    2. Using Range Check
  • Basic Correction
    1. Using the Basic Corrector
  • Advanced
    1. Using the 3-Way Corrector
    2. Secondary Correction
  • Additional Filters
    1. Broadcast Safe Filter
    2. Desaturate Filter

Color Basics

'What is Color'. The first lesson is a basic primer on color. Starting off with basic color theory, what color is and how humans perceive color, we then move on to Color Space, how computers and video utilize color space. Attributes of color, hue and saturation are also demonstrated. Basically a lesson in Chrominance.


Another lesson to be learned is that Luminance is the other element to the color correction equation. The attributes of Luminance, the values; blacks, midtones, highlights, and the topic of superwhite are all dealt with as well as the chip chart and how to use it with the FCP Color Correction tools to achieve good color.


'Goals of Color Correcting'. The why of Color Correcting, with discussions and demonstrations of the different types of work that can be done with the Color Correcting tools. Workflow, correcting white balance and exposure, scene matching, Broadcast Legal, color mood and special effects.


'Calibrating Your Monitor'. If you have ever read the monitor calibrating section in the FCP manual you will know why so many never calibrate. Now we have 'on screen' step by step instructions. You open FCP and load in the provided NTSC or PAL color bars, watch the DVD for the first step, pause the DVD make the adjustment to your monitor, then back to the DVD and so on until you have completed the process. This makes something that seems very complicated and difficult, an easy chore. No more excuses, calibrate your monitor.




Scopes. Understanding and using the four FCP scopes is essential to professional color correction. In this section each scope is explained in full detail and the supplied tutorial material is used to demonstrate the proper procedure and workflow.

Vector Scope
RGB Parade Scope


Waveform Monitor

Range Check. This tool, in conjunction with the scopes and color correction filters, enables you to test and correct chroma and luminance values to ensure Broadcast Safe output.

Range Check - Luminance warning Zebra stripes - Waveform monitor
Range Check showing excessive chromanance - Vectorscope

Basic Correction

Color Corrector This section covers the Color Corrector tool and its use in the color correcting process. This tool is different from the 3-Way color correction tool; it does not have color balance controls for blacks, mid tones, and white, but does have a separate color wheel for the adjustment of the Hue of your image. This tool is also more likely to support Real Time Preview depending on your hardware.


Using the 3-Way Corrector. The top section of the 3-Way tool is used for primary color balancing of the image and provides two views; visual and numeric.


Secondary Correction The lower section 'Secondary Correction' (Limit Effect) is for the isolation and adjustment of a single color. This can be used to change the color of an object in the image or to acheive a special effect like in the movie Pleasantville.

Utilizing the 'Limit Effect' section
Switched to Matte mode
Matte inverted - background destaurated


Additional Filters

Broadcast Safe Filter This filter used with the Range Check tool will enable you to ensure that your video will be Broadcast Safe for Television.

Desaturate Filter This simple filter is use in conjunction with the other tools and the scopes to control the amount of saturation in the image. Simple but important.


While this DVD tutorial is the first to come out, it is so good that it may, in fact, be the last (grin). I have to admit that I am very taken with this tutorial. The first time through I would suggest that you sit back and watched the entire show. Then go back through it again doing the exercises with the provided material. Running FCP and the tutorial at the same time, it is easy to understand and put into practice the 'on screen' DVD lessons.

The reason that this 'Color Correction' tutorial succeeds so well is simply the quality and clarity of the lessons and its excellent organization. DigitalFilm Tree has set a very high standard. You really have to view this product to see how good the tutorials are.



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