Achieve Perfect Color and Skin Tones in FCP X, Part I

In a previous post, we looked at how to expose for skin tones, and now we deal with how to turn those properly exposed clips into beautiful looking footage through color correction. This is an abbreviated version of Caleb Pike’s wonderful tutorial on YouTube in which he explains how to get perfect color every time using the X-Rite Colorchecker. As is indicated below, you’ll want to correct for exposure before adjusting colors.

1. SOOC

1. SOOC

2. SOOC with waveform monitor.

2. SOOC with waveform monitor.

3. Corrected exposure, added Paul Leeming's Basic Lowcon Quickie LUT.

3. Corrected exposure, added Paul Leeming’s Basic Lowcon Quickie LUT.

4. Corrected exposure, added LUT, with scopes.

4. Corrected exposure, added LUT, with scopes shown.

5. Hit Command 5, select Draw Mask from effects pane, drag it onto clip, and using the picker tool, draw a rectangle by clicking on all four corners of the chart.

5. Hit Command 5, select Draw Mask from effects pane, drag it onto clip, and using the picker tool, draw a rectangle by clicking on all four corners of the chart.

6. Blow it up until the chart fills the screen.

6. Blow it up until the chart fills the screen.

7. Open up the color tab, and using the color curves, line up the red, green and blue in highlights, then midtones on the RGB overlay. The white dot on the vectorscope is centered, meaning the colors are nearly balanced.

7. Open up the color tab, and using the color curves, line up the red, green and blue in highlights, midtones and shadows on the RGB overlay. The white dot on the vectorscope is centered, meaning the colors are now nearly balanced.

8. This is what the corrected image looks like. We're now finished using the left side of the chart.

8. This is what the corrected image looks like. We’re now finished using the left side of the Colorchecker chart.

9. Now we're going to deal with color shifts. Reset the draw mask and draw a rectangle around the color chips on the right side of the Colorchecker.

9. Now we’re going to deal with color shifts. Reset the draw mask and draw a rectangle around the color chips on the right side of the Colorchecker.

10. Boost saturation so we can see where the colors sit on the vectorscope more easily. The colors yellow, red, magenta, blue, cyan and green aren't perfectly lined up on the scope. The skin tones are shifted to the yellows.

10. Boost saturation so we can see where the colors sit on the vectorscope more easily. The colors yellow, red, magenta, blue, cyan and green aren’t perfectly lined up on the scope. The skin tones are shifted to the yellows.

11. In the color tab, open the hue_saturation curves, and using the eyedropper, click on each of the six colors on the chart. We can now begin to correct each hue separately.

11. In the color tab, open the hue/saturation curves, and using the eyedropper, click on each of the six colors on the Colorchecker chart. We can now begin to correct each hue separately.

12. Holding down the shift key, grab each of the hues and drag it up and down until each one is pointed directly at the squares on the vectorscope.

12. Holding down the shift key, grab each of the hues and drag it up and down until each one is pointed directly at the corresponding square on the vectorscope.

13. After resetting the mask and removing the added saturation, this is what we get.

13. After resetting the mask and removing the added saturation, this is what we get.

14. You can then go and and grade. In this instance, using the hue_saturation curves, I removed a touch of yellow from the skintones.

14. You can then go ahead and grade. In this instance, using the hue/saturation curves, I removed a touch of yellow from the skintones.