FCP X tools, Part 3 – color grade effects

I’ve posted numerous entries about using various filters and tools to accomplish color correction and grading. I’ve also taken a look at how to use the color board in FCP X. Now it’s time to see what tools are out there if you just don’t feel comfortable with the color board.

Final Cut Pro X effects resources have been starting to quickly shore up. Noise Industries, GenArts, Red Giant and CoreMelt are some of the popular names who have been able to modify their FxPlug filters to work with FCP X, as well as Motion, FCP 7 and After Effects. In FCP X, filter parameters are built on slider controls, which has made it difficult to implement some of the popular filters used for color grading. With the latest updates, developers have been able to start taking advantage of user interface overlays to add controls for wheels and curves, which are important tools in working with color.

Noise Industries has been adding to its roster of partners and many of these have added welcome color grading features. Nattress and Sheffield are two that come from the early FCP days and FxScript development. The Nattress curves package and Sheffield Softworks Vintage and Looks Sweet 2 packages have been updated for FxPlug and are now available for all the supported FxFactory hosts, including FCP X. Looks Sweet 2 is a stylizing package that affects lighting and vibrancy in an image, while Vintage duplicates Technicolor processes.

Nattress Curves and Levels adds a badly-needed tool to FCP X. As the name implies, you have control over curves ranging from luma-only to full RGB. The adjustments can be made using sliders or the on-screen curves display. With the recent update the filters have been tweaked to work with video recorded in standard and well as log-adjusted gamma.

Two veteran FxFactory filter partners are PHYX and DVShade. The PHYX Color and PHYX Stylist packages offer easy control over a set of Technicolor, Bleach Bypass and other types of stylizing and lighting effects.

DVShade’s EasyLooks is an incredibly powerful filter that works entirely off of sliders. In addition to three-way color correction based on split-toning concepts, you can add diffusion, gradients, vignettes and more. The installation includes a set of presets for an easy starting point.

A new FxFactory tool from Yanobox is Moods, which is a color-wheel based grading filter. Like Nattress Curves, you have the option of displaying the controls overlay, complete with “help card” labels if you like. Grab a wheel and make balance, black-wash and brightness/exposure/gamma adjustments. You can start from scratch or apply one of the supplied presets.

The Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks Suite is generally installed for Looks (more on that in an upcoming post), but it also includes Mojo. That’s a separate filter based on the “orange and teal” feature film look. It’s simple to use and works just with sliders, Like some of the others, the installation adds a set of presets, too.

Last, but not least, is Tonalizer|VFX from Irudis. It comes in a PRO and Lite (free) version and works with FCP 7 and X, Motion 4 and 5 and Final Cut Express. It doesn’t run in After Effects or other NLEs, though. The PRO version includes a separate filter with built-in optimization for footage shot with HDSLRs using the Technicolor CineStyle camera profile. The design of Tonalizer|VFX is much like the slider controls in Adobe Lightroom and, in fact, Irudis markets it as offering photographic-style grading. Two big selling points are highlight and shadow recovery. It’s easy to use, works well and a big plus for FCP X is that it still plays well in real-time when left unrendered.

Below are a series of before and after images using some of these filters. Click on any image to see an enlarged view.

Tonalizer|VFX used to improve definition and vibrancy in the image.

Nattress Curves with a slight s-curve adjustment.

Nattress Curves RGB can be used to alter the balance of the image.

Yanobox Moods set to change the balance to a more sunset-like look.

Sheffield Softworks Looks Sweet 2 Super Glam filter to stylize the image.

Magic Bullet Mojo for the “blockbuster” look.

A combination of PHYX Color and Stylist filters for a bit of over-the-top punch.

Tonalizer|VFX used to improve  definition and vibrancy in the image.

DVShade EasyLooks for a cool, heavily saturated and tinted appearance.

©2012 Oliver Peters

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