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Color has been designed from the ground up as a feature-rich color correction environment that complements a wide variety of post-production workflows, whether your project is standard definition, high definition, or a 2K digital intermediate. If you’ve edited a program using Final Cut Pro, it’s easy to send your program to Color for grading, and then send it back to Final Cut Pro for final output. However, it’s also easy to reconform projects that originate as EDLs from other editing environments. Color has the tools that professional colorists demand, including: -Primary color correction using three-way color balance and contrast controls with individual shadow, midtone, and highlight control

-Curve controls for detailed color and luma channel adjustments

-Up to eight secondary color correction operations per shot with HSL qualifiers, vignettes, user shapes, and separate adjustments for the inside and outside of each secondary

-Color FX node-based effects for creating custom color effects

-Pan & Scan effects

-Motion tracking that can be used to animate vignettes, user shapes, and other effects

-Broadcast legal settings to guarantee adherence to quality control standards

-Support for color-correction-specific control surfaces

-And much, much more

All of these tools are divided among eight individual “rooms” of the Color interface, logically arranged in an order that matches the workflow of most colorists. You’ll use Color to correct, balance, and create stylized “looks” for each shot in your program as the last step in the post-production workflow, giving your programs a final polish previously available only to high-end facilities.

Using the Color Interface

You can work in Color either by using a mouse with the onscreen interface, or more directly by using a dedicated control surface that’s been designed for professional color correction work.

Setting Up a Control Surface

Color was designed from the ground up to support control surfaces specifically designed for color correction from manufacturers such as Tangent and JL Cooper Designs. These control surfaces typically include three trackballs that correspond to the three overlapping tonal zones of the Primary and Secondary color balance controls (shadows, midtones, and highlights), three rotary controls for the three contrast controls (black level, gamma, and white point), and a number of other rotary controls and buttons that support different functions depending on which room you’ve selected.


You can either choose a control surface to use when Color starts up, or you can click Show Control Surface Dialog in the User Prefs tab of the Setup room to choose an available control surface at any time.

Using the Onscreen Controls

If you don’t have a control surface, you can still operate every feature in Color using the onscreen controls. In addition to the standard buttons, check boxes, and pop-up menus common to most applications, Color uses some custom controls that are described in this section.

Using the Mouse

Color supports the use of a three-button mouse, which provides quick access to shortcut menus and various navigational shortcuts. Color also supports the middle scroll wheel or scroll ball of a three-button mouse, either for scrolling or as a button.


Accelerating Controls Using the Option Key

Many controls can be accelerated to 10x their normal speed by pressing the Option key while you drag.


Tabs are used to navigate among the eight different Color “rooms.” Each room is a distinct portion of the interface that contains all the controls necessary to perform a specific task. Changing rooms changes the available interface, the keyboard shortcuts, and the mapping of the control surface controls.


In addition, some rooms have additional functionality that can be revealed using additional sets of tabs within that room.

Text Fields and Virtual Sliders

There are four types of data that can populate edit fields in Color:


-Text, including filenames, directory paths, and so forth.

-Whole numbers; fields that display whole numbers cannot accept either decimals or fractional values.

-Percentages and fractional values, such 0.25 or 1.873.

There are three ways you can modify text fields.

To enter text into a field using the keyboard:

-1 Click the text field you want to edit. The text in that field becomes highlighted.

-2 Type something new.

-3 Press Return to accept the change.

To modify the value of a numeric or percentage-based text field with a virtual slider:

-1 Move the pointer to the field you want to adjust.

-2 Middle-click and drag to the left to decrease its value, or to the right to increase its value.

-3 Release the mouse button when you’re finished.

To modify the value of a numeric or percentage-based text field with a scroll wheel:

-1 Move the pointer to the field you want to adjust.

-2 Without clicking in the field, roll the scroll wheel or ball up to increase that field’s value, or down to decrease that field’s value.

To adjust a field using a shortcut menu: Control-click or right-click any field, and choose one of the following options from the shortcut menu:

-Reset: Resets the field to its default setting. -Min: Chooses the minimum value available to that field. -Max: Chooses the maximum value available to that field. -Set as Default: Sets that parameter to the default value.

Timecode Fields

Timecode fields display timing information, such as media In and Out points, and the position of the playhead. Time is represented in Color in one of two ways:

-Within fields, most time values are represented with standard SMPTE timecode. SMPTE timecode is represented by four colon-delimited pairs of digits: hh:mm:ss:ff, where hh is hours, mm is minutes, ss is seconds, and ff is frames.

-Time values in the Timeline Ruler may be displayed as non-drop frame timecode, drop frame timecode, or frames.

Note: Drop-frame timecode appears with a semicolon between the seconds and frames positions.

Navigating with Timecode

Here are some pointers for entering values into the hours, minutes, seconds, and frames positions of timecode fields:

-Time values are entered from left to right (similar to entering a duration into a microwave); however, the last value you type is assumed to be the last digit of the frames position.

-Press Return whenever you’ve finished typing a timecode value to confirm the new value you entered.

-If you enter a partial number, the rightmost pair of numbers is interpreted as frames and each successive pair of numbers to the left populates the remaining seconds, minutes, and hours positions. Omitted numbers default to 00.

For example, if you enter 1419, Final Cut Pro interprets it as 00:00:14:19.

-When you enter timecode in a field, you don’t need to enter all of the separator characters (such as colons); they’re automatically added between each pair of digits.

-You can type a period to represent a pair of zeros when entering longer durations. For example, type “3.” (3 and a period) to enter timecode 00:00:03:00. The period is automatically interpreted by Color as 00.

-To enter 00:03:00:00, type “3..” (3 and two periods). These periods insert pairs of zeros into both the seconds and frames position.

-Type 3... to enter 03:00:00:00.

-Use the plus (+) symbol to enter a series of single-digit values for each time position.

For example, type “1+5+8” to enter timecode 00:01:05:08.

Color Controls

Color controls are used in several rooms in Color to let you choose and modify colors using the HSL model.


-Dragging within the main color wheel lets you simultaneously adjust the hue and saturation of the selected color.

A crosshair within the color wheel shows the current color value that’s being selected. The remaining controls depend on the type of color control being displayed.

-Dragging up and down within the multicolored Hue slider lets you adjust the hue.

-Dragging up within the single-colored Saturation slider increases the saturation of the current hue, dragging down decreases its saturation.

-Dragging up within the single-colored Brightness slider increases the brightness of the current color, dragging down decreases its brightness.

Customizing Color Controls

The angle at which colors appear on the color wheel of color controls can be customized to match the interface of other color correction systems you may be used to. In addition, the speed with which control surface joyballs adjust the corresponding Color color controls can be adjusted.

Organizational Browsers and Bins

Color presents several browsers and bins for organizing shots, media, and grades which share some common controls. All these browsers and bins are used to manage files on your hard drive, rather then data that’s stored within the Color project file itself. As a result, their controls are used to navigate and organize the directory structure of your hard drive, much as you would in the Finder.

The File Browser The browser that dominates the left half of the Setup room lets you navigate the directory structure of your computer’s disk drives (and by extension any RAID, DAS, and SAN volumes that are currently mounted), in order to find and import compatible QuickTime and Still Image media files. It’s important to bear in mind that the file browser is not a project bin in any way. The files displayed within the file browser are not associated with your Color project in any way unless you drag them into the Timeline manually or relink the shots of an imported project to their associated media files on disk using the Relink Media or Reconnect Media commands.

Note: The file browser displays only directories and media files that are compatible with Color.

When you select a media file in the file browser, a panel appears to the right displaying the first frame of that file along with information underneath, including: -Shot Name: The filename -Duration: Its total duration -Codec: The codec used to encode that file - Resolution: The frame size of the file, width by height - Frame Rate: The frame rate of the file - Timecode: The timecode value of the first frame in that file

At the bottom of this panel, an Import button appears that lets you edit the currently selected shot into the Timeline at the current position of the playhead.

Collapsing the file browser If you like, the file browser can be collapsed to enable the tabbed area on the right to occupy the entire Color window. To hide the file browser:

-Move the pointer to the file browser divider at the right-hand side of the file browser, and when it’s highlighted in blue, click once to collapse it.


To uncollapse the file browser:

-Move the pointer to the file browser divider at the left-hand side of the window, and when it’s highlighted in blue, click once to uncollapse it.

The Shots Browser

The second browser in the Setup room is the Shots tab, which is inside of the Setup room. This browser lets you see all the shots that are in the current project in either list or icon view. In icon view, you can also create groups of shots that you can use to copy and paste grades to multiple shots at once.


In list view, you can sort all of the shots using different info fields.


The Grades Bin

The Grades bin, in the Setup room, lets you save and organize grades combining primary, secondary, and Color FX corrections into a single unit.


You can use this bin to apply saved grades to other shots in the Timeline. The contents of the Grades bin are available to all Color projects opened while logged into that user account.

Correction Bins

The Primary, Secondaries, and Color FX rooms all allow you to save the corrections made inside those rooms as individual presets that you can apply to later shots. The contents of corrections bins are available to all Color projects opened while logged into that user account.

-Primary In and Out: Lets you save and organize primary corrections. The Primary In and Primary Out rooms both share the same group of saved corrections.

-Secondaries: Lets you save and organize secondary corrections.

-Color FX: Lets you save and organize Color FX corrections.

Grades Versus Corrections

There is a distinct difference between grades and corrections in Color. Corrections refer to adjustments made within a single room. You have the option to save individual corrections inside the Primary, Secondaries, and Color FX rooms and apply them to shots individually. A grade can include multiple corrections across several rooms, saving one or more primary, secondary, and Color FX corrections together. By saving a group of corrections as a grade, you can apply them all together as a single preset.

Still Store

Although the Still Store isn’t a grade or correction bin, it’s managed in almost exactly the same way. This room is one big bin that’s designed to hold still frames from a variety of shots that you can use for purposes of comparison to other shots in your program.

Browser, Grade and Correction Bin Controls

All browsers and bins share the following controls:

Display Controls All browsers and bins have display controls that let you choose how you want to view and organize their contents.


-List View button: Displays the contents of the current directory as a list of filenames. -Icon View button: Displays the contents of the current directory as icons. -Icon Size slider: Appears only in icon view. Scales the size of icons.

Directory Navigation Controls

The file browser and Grades and Corrections bins also have directory navigation controls that you can use to organize and browse the grades and corrections that are saved on your hard drive.


-Go Up: Moves to and displays the contents of the parent directory. -Go Home: Navigates to the appropriate home directory for that browser or bin. This is not your Mac OS X user home directory: -File browser: The home button takes you to the currently specified Color media directory. -Primary In, Secondaries, Color FX, and Primary Out: Home takes you to the appropriate subdirectory within the /Users/username/Library/Application Support/ Color directory. Each room has its own corresponding subdirectory, within which are stored all the corrections you’ve saved for future use. -Still Store: Home takes you to the StillStore directory inside the current project directory structure.

File Controls

The file browser and Grades and Corrections bins also have directory creation and navigation controls at the bottom. -File field: Displays the file path of the currently viewed directory. -Directory pop-up menu: This pop-up menu gives you a fast way to traverse up and down the current directory hierarchy or to go to the default Color directory for that room. -New Directory button: Lets you create a new directory within the currently specified path. You can create as many directories as you like to organize the grades and corrections for that room. -Save button: This button saves the grade or correction settings of the shot at the current position of the playhead in the directory specified in the above text fields. -Load button: Applies the selected grade or correction to the shot that’s at the current position of the playhead (if no other shots are selected), or to multiple selected shots (ignoring the shot at the playhead if it’s not selected). As with any Color bin, items displayed can be dragged and dropped from the bin into the Timeline.

How Are Grades and Corrections Saved? Grades and corrections that you save using the grade and correction bins in Color are saved within the Color preferences directory in your /Users/username/Library/ Application Support/Color directory.


Saved grades and corrections in these bins are available to every project you open.

Individual corrections in each of the above directories are saved as a pair of files; a .lsi file which contains a thumbnail for visually identifying that grade, and the specific file for that type of correction which actually defines its settings. Unless you customized the name, both these files have the same name, followed by a dot, followed by the date (day month year hour.minute.secondTimeZone), followed by the file extension that identifies the type of saved correction it is. The thumbnail image used to represent that grade in icon view Primary correction file Secondary correction file Color FX correction file

Saved grades are, in fact, file bundles that contain all the correction files that make up that grade. For example, a grade that combines primary, secondary, and Color FX corrections would be a directory using the name given to the grade, “,” containing the following files:

Reorganizing Saved Corrections and Grades in the Finder

Each of the correction bins in Color simply mirrors the contents of the corresponding subdirectory in the /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Color directory. You can use the Finder to reorganize your saved corrections and grades by creating new subdirectories and moving previously saved grades and corrections into them.

When you move saved corrections from one directory to another, it’s important to make sure that you copy both the .lsi thumbnail image for that grade, and the .pcc, .scc, or .cfx file that contains the actual grade information, together.

If you reorganize saved grades and corrections in the Finder while Color is open, you’ll need to manually refresh the contents of the Grades and corrections bins you changed so that they correctly display the current contents.

To update the contents of the currently displayed correction bin: -Click the Home button.


The contents of the correction bin update to show the current state of the Finder.

Moving Saved Corrections and Grades to Other Computers

If you have saved corrections and grades that you want to move to Color installations on other computers, you can simply copy the folders described on page 68 to a portable storage device, and then copy their contents into the corresponding folders on the new system. The next time you open Color, the saved corrections and grades will appear as they did before.

Using Color with One or Two Monitors

Color is compatible with both one- and two-monitor computer configurations. Most users will benefit from using Color in dual display mode with two monitors, as this provides the most screen real estate and also allows for the most flexible use of the preview and video scopes displayed on the Scopes window of the second monitor. However, Color can also be used in single display mode, which lets you operate Color in situations where a second display is not available. Single display mode is only recommended on 30-inch Cinema Displays.

Note: Color requires a minimum resolution of 1680x1050 in either single or dual display mode. To switch between single and dual display modes, do one of the following: -Choose Window > Single Display Mode or Dual Display Mode. -Press Shift-0 to toggle between both modes.

You must quit Color and reopen it for this change to take effect

( All information coutesy of Color Appple Inc.)