Correct Digital White Balance in Final Cut Pro

Incorrect digital white balance is a common problem for videographers who are shooting constantly at different locations, and do not remember to re-adjust their camera every time. It is also a common problem for beginners who are just getting started. Final Cut Pro has all the color correction tools you need to get your video to look just right. The tool to correct this particular problem is called the Color Corrector 3-way.

Step 1: Load Video and Add the 3-Way Color Corrector Tool

First thing to do is to open your video in Final Cut. Once you have loaded your clips on to timeline, select the clip you want to balance, select effects and go to video filters. Under video filters, you will find the Color Corrector 3-way tool under 'Color correction.' (Path -- Effects > Video Filters > Color Correction > Color Corrector 3-way.)

Step 2: Mind Your Whites

This color correction tool works through 3 channels -- Whites, Mid and Blacks. A similar tool is found in Aperture. We'll start by fixing the whites. Select the eye-dropepr tool from the white channel, check the 'auto-balance' feature, and look for something that is supposed to be pure white in the scene. Then, click on that area. If you have chosen a pure white, you should see a lot of natural colors returning to the scene. But, if you chose something that isn't pure white, you can always go and reset it in the filter tab to redo it.

Step 3: Getting Your Blacks Right

Correcting the white should give you a much nicer looking color balance, but you will notice that things still aren't quite right yet. Blacks will not be pure blacks unless you balance them out too. For this, choose the eye-dropper from the black channel and look for an area that is supposed to be pure black. Be careful though. Somethings are not supposed to be pre black, like black human hair isn't really pure black. Instead, look for areas where there is no light. Like in an indoor shoot at night, the view outside the window might be completely black because there was no light there. Click that area, and you will progress some more on the way to a properly color balanced scene.

Step 4: Work Your Mids

Now that you have corrected both your blacks and whites, what you will have is a more or less natural looking shot. Notice that the dots in both the black and white color wheels are tending towards the same direction. Looking at that, can you push the dot in the 'Mids' channel towards that area? Use your discretion about how much you need to push it. Usually, it needs only a small amount of correction.

Step 5: The Final Touch

Finally, let the artist in you take over and tweak all three channels manually to get that perfect, polished shot. You can go to frame view to save the setting for use with other clips in the same sequence. To do this, just go to the color corrector tab and drag it to the bin. You can then rename it and apply it as and when you need to.