That didn’t take long. Late last week I sat down to build and render the color grades for the spot…and about 15 minutes later decided to do color correction outside of FCPx - in this case via After Effects, since graphics had to be built as well, and we wanted to add a tiny bit of grain. It was a tiny bit of hassle since there is no OMF or EDL export, but the time spent separating the shots was a small price to pay for the ability to tweak the color the way we wanted to, not to mention avoiding some serious workflow issues in FCPx.
Some of those workflow issues:
- FCPx needs “Paste Attributes”, a la FCP7. Stop, do not pass go - this should be near the top of the list of features in upcoming updates. It was a simple operation in FCP7 to copy scaling, effects etc. from one clip to another - and it doesn’t exist in FCPx. Want to copy color correction(s) from one clip to the next? In FCPx you have to save the grade, then go to the next clip, open Color Correction, then open the saved grade…etc. It amounts to a lot of time diddling with file operations and interface, and less time working. Multiply this operation if you have multiple color corrections that you want to copy over. On that note…
- I don’t want to save a color correction file until I’m good and ready. It’s ironic that you don’t actually save project files in FCPx, yet you have to go through a process of saving presets for color corrections in order to apply them to other clips.
- If you have multiple color corrections on a clip, you can’t group them as a preset. If you have a clip with two or more color corrections - perhaps one adjusting gamma and color balance, and the second performing a subtle vignette -you can’t save these two as one preset / setup - each has to be saved individually, then laboriously applied individually to other clips if you wish.
- Inside Mask / Outside Mask attributes are NOT saved in presets. I thought this was a bug until I went back to the manual and realized that this behavior is actually documented. I’m at an utter loss as to why this is the default behavior, it makes no sense.
- Lack of truly fine controls. The controls are simple and easy to understand, but that’s also the problem - they’re too simple, and not suitable for detail work.
- Lack of color pickers. I want to pick a neutral gray off a color chart and get RGB values to check color balance, but this feature doesn’t exist.
- Want to see Waveforms and Vectorscopes at the same time. A small issue - but it is very useful to see luminance and chroma values at the same time while making adjustments. Right now, FCPx forces the user to switch between the two using a dialog.
It’s a shame that FCPx didn’t work out for corrections, as I was looking forward to using audition clips to try out different grading versions. In the end, the workflow issues above scuttled that idea pretty quick.
Keep in mind that while I have no insight on this whatsoever, I do wonder if Apple is ultimately going to include truly robust color correction tools within FCPx, or simply let third parties use the plug-in framework to sell add-ons. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a company like X-Rite port their software for the Passport Pro into the FCPx framework, at the very least as an option to get a baseline grade.