Adjusting Exposure in Final Cut Pro

I was just in the middle of doing yet more tests to determine the very best zebra settings for the a7s III when I came across this – arguably the single most important step toward getting vibrant, contrasty, High Dynamic Range images in Final Cut Pro – adjusting exposure. Simply pulling shadows down till they are just touching 0 nits and reducing brightness with the highlight color wheel until your subjects are no longer blown out as though you’re dealing with rec.709 will result in just that – slightly brighter SDR footage! If only I had understood this five months ago! Without any further ado…

At first, it may seem odd to those accustomed to working in SDR to have to crank the color wheels all the way up and down so drastically, which is why we hope that Apple will eventually make the wheels respond more consistently between different types of media and color spaces.

There is however, one serious obstacle when it comes to grading HDR footage in Final Cut Pro: the futility of targeting specific tonal ranges for adjustment. For the following video, I made a color mask in order to reduce the specular highlights in the face but there were so many artifacts, I ended up just pulling down the highlights of the entire clip instead.

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