I tried every combination of color management settings FCP X allows, and while the contrast response differed, it was still wonky and not at all “standard” to the way I’d expect these controls to work.
Then, I finally stumbled upon the magic combination of settings. Given all the screwing around with the Color Management settings required to force a clip to grade correctly with these controls, clearly the math that governs these controls is being handled incorrectly relative the Color Management settings, so I believe Simon’s assessment is generally correct.
I find that colorists tend to prefer the controls of the last grading application they used professionally, which makes sense since you’ve built up muscle memory to know what motions correspond to which corrections, and who wants to learn new instincts all over again? Furthermore, each application’s variances are rooted in no doubt the soundest of reasons, and I have no interest in litigating who has the best controls. The closest we’ve got is the standardization of the ASC CDL Slope/Offset/Power/Saturation adjustments, which isn’t quite the same thing, but which is serving as the cross-platform glue in pre-production through post-production look management workflows for many projects and organizations.
However, in many instances, the SOPS operations need to be translated to/from an application’s own Lift/Gamma/Gain operations.
In an effort to be fair-minded, I’ll start with what I like about the new Final Cut Pro color-balance controls: , it’s not ideal, at least for me.
To offer a metaphor, if I build a guitar and give it to a musician, and they play it and tell me they don’t like it, the process of explaining to the musician the guitar sounds the way it does doesn’t help.
On the other hand, weekend warrior colorists driving with the mouse will notice this kind of interactivity , since they’ll be making adjustments one at a time, such that a change to Highlights making a change to Shadows will necessitate an adjustment to Shadows which in turn alters Highlights so you need to readjust Highlights and then, well, you get the idea. I casually mentioned this on Twitter, and colleague Marc Bach helpfully pointed out Simon Ubsdell’s You Tube video which helpfully seeks to explain why this is happening, and which (spoiler alert) points out that these behaviors change when you set the project to Rec. My only complaint about Simon’s video is that it doesn’t specifically show the steps he used to set up the Library, Project, and Media to reproduce his results.
However, since you need to set the Library that contains the content you’re grading to Wide Gamut HDR in order to set a new project to Rec.
So I set about to explore this issue more thoroughly to see if I could reproduce his results.
Long story short, using my own gradient file, I found reproducing Simon’s results difficult to do.