Moetic: Craft // Quick and Dirty Same Day Edit Color Grading in Final Cut Pro X

Those of you who’ve produced a successful Same Day Edit understand the pressures of working quickly and utilizing an efficient workflow.  Finalizing the edit is an achievement in itself, but adding color correction/grading can prove to be difficult given the amount of allotted time.  Many wedding filmmakers might avoid the color grading task completely and then return to their edits after the wedding day to finalize.  But with the right approach we believe it’s still possible to wow your audience with a cinematic look to your footage.

We produced the following SDE in November of 2011 in Cabo at Cabo Azul resort.  We feel this is a good example because of the setting and content of the film.  We utilized 2 different looks in the film that cater to the atmosphere.  We took a chance to be a bit more edgy and creative with our color grading and feel that it paid off in the end.

Before we get in to the look we went for, let’s look at the tools.  We edit in Final Cut Pro X and do a lot of our color correction and grading with it as well, especially projects that require a quick turn around, such as a SDE.  The FCPX color correction tool is a great start, but we also utilize a couple different plugins.


Plugins: Adjustment Layer & Alpha + Levels

One plugin comes from Color Grading Central which is a free adjustment layer  title used for applying effects over multiple clips.  You can get the adjustment layer and some bonus plugins by submitting your email address here.

Color Grading Central Adjustment layer FCPX timeline

The other plugins we utilize come from Andy Yoong, called Andy’s Alpha & Andy’s Levels.  They are an Alpha channel effect (preset for a vintage/retro look) and a Levels effect.

Andy's Alpha & Levels



Step 1: Complete your Same Day Edit

Once the edit is complete we’ll lay the adjustment layer over the clips.

Adjustment layer close

Adjustment layer applied over timeline

Now you’re ready to get started!  Everything you apply to the adjustment layer will affect the clips below it.  Typically on our SDE’s we’ll shoot in a flattened EOS standard profile, lowering contrast, saturation and sharpness.  For this edit we wanted to achieve a low saturated low contrast look, which worked great with the environment.

Step 2: Alpha & Levels

Moetic : Color Grade : SDE ungraded

frame before color grading


Apply Andy’s Alpha and Andy’s Levels to the adjustment layer.  We’ve brought up the blue alpha levels to keep the tones cool and we kept the whites fairly flat while bringing the blacks down a bit.

 Andy's Alpha & Levels

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 12.46.19 AM

Alpha adjusted. Alpha channels slightly boosted with higher blue.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 12.47.34 AM

Levels added. “Black Out” slightly raised to slightly lower contrast in blacks. “Black In” raised to deepen blacks. White’s were not tweaked.


Step 3:

Then we’ll use the FCPX color correction on the adjustment layer to do a slight s-curve exposure adjustment.  We didn’t adjust the saturation.  Then we popped some color into the mids and highlights to give it a vintage feel.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 12.49.17 AM

Exposure slightly adjusted.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 12.49.30 AM

Saturation not tweaked.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 12.49.41 AM

Colors adjusted in highlights and mids. Yellow added to highlights for vintage feel. Green/blueish tone added to mids for tropical effect.

Moetic : Color Grade : SDE final grade

And that’s our look!


Step 4: quick clean-up

Obviously the adjustment layer may have a slightly different effect among clips.  Maybe some of your shots were over exposed, or the white balance was off.  Now we’ll quickly scrub through our edit and manually adjust these clips as needed by selecting the clip itself and using FCPX’s color correction.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 1.14.41 AM

(This shot was slightly overexposed, so we selected it separately from the adjustment layer to recover some of the highlights)


Color grade yoga bride wedding day Color Grade bride wedding dress Color Grade Ceremony Celebration Color Grade Viceroy Pool Wedding Color Grade bride walks down aisle wedding

Have Fun!

This wedding was a blast.  The bride and groom played volleyball the day before the wedding so we decided to create a different look for their beach fun.  It broke up their film in a unique way and the warm tones were a great contrast.  All it took was some breaking up the adjustment layer and tweaking the sections over the beach volleyball sequence.

Color grade beach volleyball wedding

Serious Face Step 1 alpha and levels Serious Face step 2 flatten Serious Face step 3 boost saturation Serious Face Step 4 colors

Moetic : Color Grade : SDE Volleyball Carla Graded Moetic : Color Grade : SDE Volleyball

Take a look at Carla & Matt’s Same Day Edit