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Color Balance on Import & Render Times

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Adam Berch
Color Balance on Import & Render Times
on Dec 30, 2015 at 2:09:27 pm


Is it worth it to have FCP X Analyze For Color Balance as I'm importing clips into it? Does it take longer for the footage to import? Is it a long render when I put it on the timeline if the clip has been Color Balanced?


iMac 5K Retina
FCP X 10.2

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Oliver Peters
Re: Color Balance on Import & Render Times
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:00:02 pm

I would recommend never using this function. The software is making a best guess based on the first frames of each file. It applies the color balance setting as part of the color profile of that file, to which you have no access. You don't have to render this, but this means you can't adjust the color balance values once the file has been imported. You can only add adjustments on top of it. Best to color correct just the shots you end up cutting into your sequence.


Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL

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Bret Williams
Re: Color Balance on Import & Render Times
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:41:38 pm

After reading both my and Oliver's responses I went back and played with it. It appears analyzing does nothing to the clip UNTIL the color balance effect is applied (cmd+opt+B). So, YES it will take longer when it "analyzes" the clip because it seems to analyze the whole file, vs. ONLY adding the color balance effect after import without analyzing which probably just balances based on the first frame(s?).

So here's what I gather is the normal process-

1. Analyze the clip either on import or by right clicking the media in the bin after import and choosing to analyze. There will be no apparent color change to the clip. It's just been analyzed.
2. Add the color balance effect cmd+opt+B and you'll see an effect added in the inspector and it will say "analyzed" which I assume means it looked at all frames because analyzing takes awhile.
3. If you opt to add the color balance effect without analyzing, it will still do a color correction based on the first frame(s?) of the clip or perhaps the first frame(s?) of the edited clip (most likely because it's instant) and the effect in the inspector will say "not analyzed"
4. In all cases it can be turned on/off in the inspector.

I didn't test the above on an actual import, just an after the fact import. But if analyzing color is the same as all the other analyzing features of X it can be done after import via right clicking on the clip in the event and choosing analyze and the result should be the same. Which is why I would never suggest analyzing on import. It's a waste of time when you can do it later on a case by case basis.

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Bret Williams
Re: Color Balance on Import & Render Times
on Dec 30, 2015 at 7:02:09 pm

And I could have just RTFM which shows there's even a little more to it. It's actually a pretty well thought out feature. The only thing I didn't figure is that it will balance based on the frame you're on in the project IF you haven't analyzed the clip...

Final Cut Pro includes an automatic color-balancing feature. When you use the color-balancing feature, Final Cut Pro samples the darkest and lightest areas of the image’s luma channel and adjusts the shadows and highlights in the image to neutralize any color casts. In addition, Final Cut Pro adjusts the image to maximize image contrast, so that the shot occupies the widest available luma range.

The video frame used as the reference frame depends on whether the clip has already been color analyzed:

If the clip has been color analyzed, either during import or while in the Browser: The analysis process extracts color balance information for the entire clip. Whether you add a portion of the clip or the entire clip to a project, the color-balancing feature chooses the frame within the project clip that is closest to being correctly balanced. This means that if you add multiple partial clips from the same Browser clip to the project, each clip is balanced based on analysis information for its own section of media.

If the clip has not been color analyzed and you balance its color: You can determine the reference frame for a clip selected in the Timeline by moving the playhead to that frame in the clip. If the playhead is on a different clip or you’ve selected a clip in the Browser, the clip’s middle frame is used.

Turn a clip’s color balance correction on and off
Select one or more clips in the Timeline or the Browser.

Do one of the following:

Choose Modify > Balance Color (or press Option-Command-B).

Choose Balance Color from the Enhancements pop-up menu in the toolbar.

Enhancements pop-up menu in toolbar
After you have applied a color balance correction (using one of the methods above), select or deselect the Balance Color checkbox in the Effects section of the Video inspector.

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Bret Williams
Re: Color Balance on Import & Render Times
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:12:29 pm

Color Balance is something you can add after the fact with cmd+option+B and it's instantaneous and generally real time. I wouldn't apply it to all your clips on import. Likely each clip will result in a different color balance. Good for home movies perhaps. Not so great for matching cameras. You can't paste one color balance to another clip either. (Well you Nor can you adjust the result of the color balance. IOW it doesn't give you a color board type result.

I use it sometimes as a last step in color correction (not matching). I'll get the image close and the color balance effect will nudge the white balance where I want it. it's also good for color correcting a bunch of run and gun broll where all the shots were different lighting like in a factory.

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Noah Kadner
Re: Color Balance on Import & Render Times
on Dec 31, 2015 at 6:48:18 pm

Yup I leave most analysis off in import.


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