As a colorist I’ve had a great interest in what would become of Apple Color. Though its fate is still not known. I thought that upon first launching FCP X for the first time I would do some digging around with its color correction tools. In terms of workflow I have to say that it is better and more intuitive than FCP 7’s 3 Way Color Corrector as it incorporates similar approach to Apple Color’s hsl curves/lines found in the secondary room for hue, saturation and luma adjustments. I do have to say and it is the purpose of this post to point out that the Autobalance feature simply will not work or do the job adequately. And this is supposedly one of those auto background rendering features. I haven’t dug around enough to find out how to disable it but the results will speak for themselves.

Ungraded:

Color balance tool:

Autobalanced: (yuck!)

Graded: (primary color correction using FCP X color correction tools)

As you can see you can’t rely on a machine or computer calculations to adequately perform a correction. It’s calculations are too clinical too idealistic. In a perfect world with a shoot outside it would have performed much better but all the auto balance tool does is balance and drop the blacks to 0 IRE. Balance the whites and potentially raise to 100 IRE if there are specular highlights. But with this interior shot, it balanced the whites perfectly leaving the room and the skin tones cold. In an interior environment highlights aren’t supposed to be balanced perfectly, you do want a little more in the red channel of the highlights as incandescent/tungsten lighting is warm. So this is why auto balancing won’t work for a variety of situations. It’s just like its better to learn and master the manual controls of a camera rather than rely on the auto functions of the camera. You’re the artist, you’ll perform better results when wielding the machine correctly.

I am eager to dig around a little deeper into adding additional correction as secondary and to play with isolation with the HSL keyer and vignette/shapes. Will be interested to see if the shapes are able to be tracked. I did bring up the scopes but unfortunately appears at first glance to show only one scope at a time. Hopefully this is a feature that can be changed to show all scopes. I was pleased to see as promised that there was back ground rendering occurring after each change and my MacPro was chugging along just splendidly.

In conclusion my first impression with playing around with the color correction tool sets is that they will be more than adequate for the beginning/amateur filmmaker, adequate for small/micro budget projects and for editors to show client color corrected proofs, but for medium and large budget projects I would hire a professional colorist or use a dedicated color grading app, like the upcoming Resolve 8, (oh and by the way Resolve Lite will be absolutely free and allow up to two nodes or one primary and secondary type grading). I do give FCP X color tools a better grade than the 3 way color corrector in FCP 7 but alas this is likely the end of Color.

More coming soon…

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FCP X First Review: Autobalance Color Simply Won't Work Adequately, 9.9 out of 10 based on 7 ratings

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4 Comments

jayJune 21, 2011 7:31 am

Davinci Resolve is your friend.

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Marcus Samuel-GaskinJune 21, 2011 8:16 pm

They killed Color. These new tools in X are just an enhancement to the CC3W and in no way a replacement for the professional Colorist’s toolset. *sigh* Apple have ceded the market to BlackMagic Design. The notion of a new V 2.0 Color held a lot of promise for me. Thing is, as a freelancer, there are tons of Color installs out there. Very few freelance opportunities for DaVinci. You have to set up as a one man shop now if you want to continue to color professionally.

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Duncan ShepherdJune 22, 2011 7:59 pm

Whilst I may agree that this is an improvement on the 3-way CC, that’s an awfully low bar for a pro colourist to be comparing to.

I know that Apple Color 1.5 is a clunky and cantankerous old git, but for something that is essentially free, it is hugely powerful, and brings genuine professional grading tools into the hands of one man outfits like myself.

I’d was hoping they’d sort out the few remaining bugs, most of which are simple XML reading and re-linking issues and call it done. Looks like the’ll be too busy pushing the toothpaste back into the tube now.

I guess I’ll just have to buy colorista now.

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Jim BannockxJune 23, 2011 7:32 am

It’s very hard to believe that the software Color will not be supported anymore by apple. As user of the Mc Color from euphonix, working with color is a pleasant experience, straight to the point editing. So, I will still use this program on my mac.

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