Why the Final Cut Pro X Exposure Slider Isn’t As Simple As It Looks

December 17, 2014

Understanding the Final Cut Pro X Exposure Slider is critical to knowing how to color correct in Final Cut Pro X. Click and discover: Why?

Day 17: 25 Insights in 25 Days Holiday Marathon

The Final Cut Pro X Exposure Slider: Why Is It More Important Than You Think?

As part of my Final Cut Pro X Desert Island Color Correction Challenge, I started by asking: which ‘puck’ should we manipulate first?

We created a test to evaluate how FCPx’s image processing pipeline is organized and discovered the Global Exposure slider is WAY more important than we thought… and THAT means we need to be thinking about that Exposure Slider first.

But then, in the comments  Mixing Light’s Member-At-Large Christophe asked this question:

I’m now wondering if the same applies for the saturation Tab. At 9:20 in the video you’re increasing the midtones saturation after you’ve set the global one to 100. Have you tried if FCPX behaves the same for saturation [as] what you describe for contrast?

Great question!

My instinct says… Yes, the Global Exposure slider is remapping what the Color and Saturation Shadow / Midtone / Hightlight pucks will effect.

My instinct also says… Test and Verify—because when it comes to image processing, you never know what it is you’re going to find.

Verifying the Effect of the Final Cut Pro X Exposure Slider on the Saturation and Color Pucks

I am very happy I decided to test and verify my initial assumption (thanks Christophe for suggesting I explore this).

It turns out, my instinct was half-right. Which also means, my instinct was half-wrong!

That half-wrong portion slightly changes my recommendation on which tools we should adjust first when making our initial Primary color adjustment in Final Cut Pro X.

In truth, I thought this test was going to be a small part of a larger Insight. But due to how Final Cut Pro X works, this is important enough to stand on its own. It’s understanding the nuances such as this that separates a post-production professional who has a strong color correction background from someone who merely ‘get’s the job done’.

Being skillful in color correction is not just knowing which tool to manipulate first… it’s knowing WHY you’re reaching for that tool first—because as I’m about to demonstrate, in Final Cut Pro X the tool you reach for first depends heavily on the shot sitting in front of you.

As your clients watch the precision with which you move and the accuracy of your color grading… they’ll start wanting you to work on more of their projects. Eventually, as the demand for your limited time increases you’ll be able to start increasing your rates and be more selective in the jobs you take.

Ask Questions, I’ll Answer

As I work through this series, ask the questions that pop into your head. I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments. But who knows? Just like the question asked by Christophe—it may be that your answer really needs a full-blown Insight, just like this one.

– pat

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