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How to Color Grading in Final Cut Pro

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Oct 15, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Have you ever questioned the purpose of those odd video scopes or how to build super grades from the start in Final Cut Pro? In contrast to editing talents, color grading is a technical and difficult ability that takes practice.

In order to help, we decided to compile a thorough beginner's article to color grading in Final Cut Pro.

With that said, let's begin!

In this article
  1. Discover how you color grade in Final Cut Pro
  2. Include Color Wheels
  3. 3Color board
  4. Masks
  5. Color Curves
  6. Match Colors

1. Discover how you color grade in Final Cut Pro

Color grading may be a tedious and time-consuming operation, therefore it's a skill set that calls for a lot of patience. Some editors won't conduct any color grading or correction beyond the bare minimum. But even mundane-looking film may look remarkable if you know how to give it a dramatic touch.

A more cinematic grade requires a number of procedures, and there is no one method that works for all situations. We'll therefore walk you through the process of creating a cinematic color grade in Final Cut Pro, but depending on your material, you might need to add or omit some phases.


Since the raw video is essential for producing a cinematic image, an outstanding grade begins with the camera.

Use the greatest quality settings your camera offers while recording your video; the more information in your picture, the more you can manipulate it during grading.

While it may seem preferable to shoot with as much color as you can, using a duller color profile is very necessary. Your camera will have color settings, and although the washed-out, drab appearance may not inspire confidence in you, it will offer you a lot more editing possibility.

Step2Create a color profile

After importing your film, you may be concerned about the general dull look of your recordings. The reason for that is because you have not yet matched the color profile of your sequence to the one of your camera. To start on this process, it goes as follows.

  • Drag your clip onto your timeline and make sure it is selected. Click on the Inspector icon.
  • Then click on the Information tab of the clip.
  • Navigate all the way down through the options to find the Color LUT option.
  • Then choose the Color profile that matches your clip based on the camera it is filmed with.
  • You're done!
Step3Checking the scopes

The Scopes in Final Cut Pro are panels that display the color information of your shots. They are quite complicated and can be difficult to comprehend if you did not use them ever before. You can activate Video Scopes by clicking View > Show in Viewer > Video Scopes from the View menu. The three components of grading are the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. Your highlights are shown at the top and your shadows are at the bottom in all grading tools and scopes.

2. Include Color Wheels

Now that your setup is complete, you can begin grading your footage. Grading is done in multiple layers stacked on top of each other. It may take multiple levels to create the desired look. Follow the instructions below to modify your settings to match your clip if you want to give your footage a cinematic look.

You may access a wider range of color manipulation tools with the built-in color wheels, exposure adjustments, including isolation of color selection, RGB modifications across tone ranges, and simple masking.

3. Color board

A vertical color spectrum is shown on the Color Board, and it is intersected by a horizontal line that features four nodes. These are the ranges of the footage that are designated as the Highlights, Midtones, and Shadows, respectively.

Adjusting a node to a new color space has an immediate and noticeable impact on the corresponding section of the image. If you move above the horizontal line, it will increase, and if you go below the line, it will decrease.

You also have control over the Saturation and Exposure settings. These are wonderful to have if you want to increase the contrast in your photographs and make particular colors more vivid or muted.

4. Masks

Using the Shape Masks feature, each of these individual effects can be perfect for particular regions of your footage. In addition, by utilizing a Color Mask, you can alter the appearance of a specific color. It is possible to apply multiple iterations of each color adjustment to a clip and find it listed under the Effect heading.

The order can be changed by dragging and dropping, and either method can be disabled or enabled. Utilizing keyframes allows for the effects of color grading to be specifically timed as well. Last but not least, keep in mind that the quality and color sample depth of the clips determine how much of an overall adjustment you are capable of making to a color.

5. Color Curves

If you are experienced with more advanced picture editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, you will benefit greatly from using color curves. Adjustments can be made independently to both the Luma (the brightest areas) and the primary composite colors (red, blue, and green).

6. Match Colors

Match Color is an additional choice that may be made from the improvement's menu. This function will try to replicate the visual style of one video clip in another. First, choose the clip whose color you want to change, click on that clip that has the desired appearance, and last, choose Match Color.

You will still be able to utilize these settings as shortcuts even after you have gained more experience with manual grading and are comfortable making finer adjustments manually. It is important to keep in mind that while using Final Cut Pro X for color grading, effects can be layered on top of one another.

It's not likely that a single tool or adjustment will solve an issue or produce the desired result; rather, it's more likely that a number of different impacts will be required. In the same way that different visual effects in Final Cut Pro X may be toggled on and off, any layers that you add to a clip can have their visibility controlled from the Inspector window.


In Final Cut Pro X, you may choose from a wide variety of grading plugins, ranging from more affordable solutions like FCPeffects to more expensive ones like Magic Bullet Looks, which are designed specifically for feature film-style grades.

Additionally, there is a variety of stand-alone applications for color grading, such as DaVinci Resolve and FilmConvert. You might be comfortable with their gear, but you should also know that their professional-grade color package includes some rather complex editing options.

Beginning to experiment with all of Final Cut Pro X's functions and determining which ones are most useful to you is the best method to gain an understanding of the program's color grading capabilities. If you don't currently have a project that requires your attention, you can download stock footage and experiment with it.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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