View Full Version : comprehensive proper color correction/grading workflow turorial for fcpx?

Josh Bass
12-14-2018, 07:10 AM
Wondering if there’s a fairly thorough free turorial out there for the proper workflow for color correction/grading and using exclusively tools within fcpx. It looks like, after reading up on the tools that were introduced in 10.4, that staying fcpx will work for me for correcting/grading this current project. Many of the vids out there, the speakers dont really seem to know what theyre talking about regarding professional workflow/methodology (“yeah, that looks nice”), eyeballing (apparently) a lot of stuff vs taking a more scientific/scopes-based approach.

I did see the Resolve video posted yesterday so perhaps just taking the ideas from that and applying them to the tools in fxpx will work.

Also is there a simple way to bring up two shots up next to each other to match them? I’ve seen some of the more complicated workarounds but I feel like there might be a simpler way to bring multiple shots up next to each other.


12-19-2018, 09:25 AM
When you have a clip selected in the browser, press control + command + 3 to bring it up in its own window. Then you can choose/click on something in the timeline to see them side-by-side.

Not the best method because the windows are small, but it works. You can also scale down two clips in the timeline and move them left and right to see them side-by-side.

Those are the only two ways I know of.


As far as grading, YouTube's still your best friend for learning and gaining a variety of experience. You watch as much as you can and take in bits and pieces; whatever works best for you. If you're looking for an accurate, technical breakdown then an official Apple course is best (if they are still offering those) or a recommended series on Lynda, Udemy, etc.

Jim Feeley
12-19-2018, 10:38 AM
For a good and thorough tutorial, it's probably worth spending a little money.

In general, Ripple Training has a good reputation in the FCPX world. Online video tutorial. $60-$80 each; bundles (and frequently discounts) available:

Other resources here (as you've probably already seen):

And IMO, good online editors and colorists have been able to get up to speed on new tools quickly because they understand the core issues around color grading. So maybe check out some books that aren't application specific. I'm partial to Steve Hullfish's approach and books (note that we're acquaintences/friends). Here's a list from a few years ago of a few good books that don't age super quickly: https://jonnyelwyn.co.uk/film-and-video-editing/cool-videos-films-projects-creative-work/5-books-on-colour-grading-and-colour-science/

And there's good background information that applies to any application in the DaVinci Resolve manual (including in the free version). At least there was. I haven't looked at the Resolve 15 manual, but you can find PDFs of earlier versions with a quick Google search. If you just read that (and perhaps Hullfish's book), you could then pick-and-choose free FCPX tutorials to get you oriented and then dive in yourself.

Youtube tutorials can be pretty hit-or miss. If you want comprehensive (and informed and accurate) start-to-finish tutorials, I'd consider spending a few bucks... I'd guess that'd take you less time overall and leave fewer holes in your knowledge...

If you find some great free stuff, let us know!

Josh Bass
12-19-2018, 12:46 PM
Thanks. I should not I dont have latest fcpx ‘cause I’m still on Sierra so no comparison viewer for me.

12-19-2018, 09:15 PM
It's called an 'event viewer' and it's like 6 years old:


CONTROL + COMMAND + 3 while you have a clip selected (as mentioned above) ...unless you remapped your keyboard.

Josh Bass
12-19-2018, 09:55 PM
I think that only works if you are in the event browser...wont work with clips on timeline (tried it). There’s a trick where you can make your clip a compound clip and do that but just a regular old clip in the timeline does not seem to work.

12-19-2018, 10:14 PM
Yea, for sure...if you really need to compare two clips in the timeline you can copy and paste them both at the end of the timeline, stack them on top of each other, scale them down, and move one to the left and one to the right, and you'll be able to see them side by side. Then you can copy your CC/effects (when finished) to the one(s) in the actual edit up front. [You'd also copy and paste the scaling/position change to any new clips as well.]

But both methods are actually annoying.

Josh Bass
12-19-2018, 10:44 PM
Yeah, I tried that once. I tried the compound clip thing too. So far I'm using the turn skimming on/off with playhead over the comparison clip, while you have it "parked" on another clip, then just hit s repeatedly to a/b them. Works pretty well and way less tedious than the other methods, to me. After this project I'll take a hard look at updating to Mojave or whatever so I can have a comparison viewer.

01-09-2019, 11:34 AM
My workflow in FCP X was...Bring up the waveform scope. Adjust shadows to around 1 or 2 IRE. Lower highlights to around 85-90 IRE. You can adjust midtones by eye. Bring up vector scope. If there are people in the shot, use the crop tool to isolate a patch of skin (if it's a close up you can skip this step). You should see the skin in the vector scope as a colored patch of light. In the color tab of the CC filter, adjust until that patch sits on the straight line at about 9 o'clock on the scope. That is the skin tone line. I start with the midtones first. Then adjust the shadows and highlights if necessary. I push it slightly to the left or right of the skin tone line if I want to warm up or cool down the skin tone. Undo the crop. These three things, your black levels, white levels, and skin tone you do not want to eyeball. Use your scopes. Get those right and from there you can start applying whatever look you want and can mostly go by eye, being mindful that your further adjustments don't throw those three levels out of whack. One final adjustment I like to use is desaturating the blacks and the highlights with a luma vs. saturation curve in the CC menu. Gives it that final, film like touch to the color, as generally, film loses saturation at the top and bottom of the gamma curve, where as video does not.

Also, I'm assuming your monitor is calibrated to 6500k. An easy way to get your monitor in an accurate ballpark, if you have an iPad laying around, you can export frame grabs, and try and get your monitor to match the iPad as closely as possible. iPad's are very well calibrated and accurate color wise. I did all this for my feature and my DCP projected in a top end screening room looked identical to what I saw on my monitor with no surprises (except that it looked even better).

Josh Bass
01-09-2019, 01:05 PM
Thanks. The skin tone line is generally a diagonal line that’s specifically marked on most vector scopes. The other stuff I have generally been doing but thr ipad thing is a good tip (as long as it works on an ipad mini, thats all I have).

I think I mentioned before but I gave up amd restarted from scratch in Resolve lite after discovering that even as much as an Imac monitor is not necessarily accurate, FCPx makes it worse because of the issues with quicktime and what viewing through it does to blacks and saturation. At least what you see in Resolve is what you see when uploaded to Vimeo etc., based on my tests. I ordered the Color Correction handbook and have been reading/watching just about everything I can find for free about grading and doing it in resolve, although about 75% of that is kinda dubious.

01-09-2019, 02:15 PM
I was going to use resolve to grade my film, but I wasn't going to push my footage too far and with the new curve tools in FCP X it gave me 90 percent of what I needed. There were some isolated shots I had to do tracked power windows and stuff where I used resolve still. Not a fan of FCP X but it by far handles 4k h.264 files better than any other NLE and I didn't want to transcode everything so I went with it. Will probably move on to resolve for all my editing needs soon.

Josh Bass
01-09-2019, 02:21 PM
Yes for simple stuff I stay in FCPX but since this is a music video I wanted to try to do a “proper” grade. Granted, you can do a lot of the same stuff in FCPX but the viewing issue really pushed me over the top. I like FCPX and theyre constantly improving it and adding features.

I exported a prores HQ of my final edit of the video and brought it into Resolve to grade, had to razor the video to cut it into shots since I’m not quite familiar with the scene detection feature and when I tried it it seemed to put the clips in a random order in the timeline instead of chronological but still, not a big deal for a less than 3 minute video.

01-10-2019, 12:26 AM
Agreed on the RippleTraining - very good tutorials, concise, to the point. I did one of their bundles for a couple of weeks in the evenings.

The only other thing I would say, is I'm now 100% keeping with using the builtin tools only (even if its a bit harder - like mask tracking etc) I've had it with using plugin's that stop working, moving from laptop to desktop and grades breaking. The builtin tools seem 'good enough' now for my type of work.

Josh Bass
01-10-2019, 04:53 AM
You mean built in for FCPX or Resolve? I can see where youre coming from on plugins.

01-10-2019, 05:30 AM
You mean built in for FCPX or Resolve? I can see where youre coming from on plugins.

FCPX - I've had enough of having lots of extra bits of software installed, CoreMelt, FXFactory, ColorFinale etc etc

Josh Bass
01-10-2019, 08:02 AM
Cool. I suspect down the line many things those plugins did will be added. they already have a comparison viewer in the newest version so you can compare shots. Now if theyd just do something to negate that quicktime gamma/color shift...