Few developers understand what a truly professional colour grading solution for Final Cut Pro X should include. Denver Riddle from Color Grading Central does. The result is Color Finale, a plugin specially developed by colour scientists for colour scientists — and the rest of us — using Final Cut Pro X.
Color Finale has been co-developed by a software engineer with a background in developing systems for colour grading and digital intermediate and credits in A-list blockbuster movies. So, Color Finale has its roots in award-winning cinema and it shows. The plugin has two components: a stand-alone app, which has a module to manage LUTs from Color Grading Central, and the actual plugin itself, which when dragged from the Inspector in Final Cut Pro X, opens a free-floating window. The interface itself is deceptively simple and comes with three colour wheels, curves, a LUT selector and vector grading tools. A row of icons allows access to these tools.
Each of the tools represent a layer when used and each tool can thus be used several times if needed. The layers can be re-ordered by dragging as well. Re-ordering curve and wheel adjustments will give different results. Layers can be renamed for convenience as well.
LUTs and Telecine tools
You can start with any of the tools, but one of the most obvious is to start by converting the colour grading LUTs you already have created or purchased (e.g. OSIRIS and ImpulZ that accurately emulate the look of 35mm film) and use with Color Grading Central’s LUT Buddy and adding them to Color Finale in stand-alone mode. When you subsequently load the plugin in Final Cut Pro X, you can start with selecting a LUT to map your footage from the camera’s into the desired colour space. But starting without ever loading a LUT is possible too.
The colour wheels and curves make up for the Telecine tools in Color Finale. There are three sliders to control the luminance per tone range — or wheel — in addition to a slider for overall saturation adjustments. With the mouse you drag a white “puck” to change the colour.
The curves are next in line. Four curves define luminance and RGB. The curves are great to control contrast or shift the footage to a specific hue. They work like the curves in Photoshop and DaVinci Resolve, which is different from Red Giant’s Colorista III, where you have one curve with luminance and RGB values superimposed. I personally prefer the individual Color Finale curves as they are much easier to manipulate.
Finally, for grading secondaries you’ll use the vector grading tool. This tool lets you adjust colours selectively — the so-called secondaries. In Color Finale there are six of them, including CMY and RGB. Vector based grading is more accurate than HLS based grading as corrections are applied to specific colours that can be made up of multiple vectors.
In Color Finale, for each secondary you select one or a combination of colours by clicking the corresponding colour chip, and then apply adjustments — hue, saturation and lightness — to accent, modify, or tone down parts of a clip. As with everything in Color Finale, it adds secondary colour corrections as individual grading layers, which basically means you can add as many as you wish.
Currently missing from the plug-in are masking and tracking capabilities. According to Color Grading Central, these are a part of the development roadmap.
Although masking and tracking are currently missing, I believe Color Finale is far better than anything else that is available for proper colour grading in Final Cut Pro X. Color Finale is very efficient and flexible in terms of workflow.
Color Finale costs approx. €91.00.