Color-Balancing Using Match Hue

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the April, 2004, issue of
Larry’s Monthly Final Cut Studio Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Have you noticed the Match Hue button in the Color Corrector 3-way window and wondered what it did?

Well, it’s a surprisingly powerful tool that can help you color balance between two, or more, scenes. If you have only one scene to color, you would not use Match Hue. But, if you are trying to match the same color between multiple scenes, Match Hue can be a big help.

Recently, I shot a scene called, “New Puppy Comes Home.” And, like all “great” photographers, I shot it without lights and without any good white or black references in the shot. In fact, the entire room is beige. And, since I didn’t use any lights except daylight, all the colors looked a bit desaturated and rolling towards blue.

Since this is a “golden” retriever, I want to put some of the gold color back in her fur. So, now, I want to “fix it in post.”

Here’s how to use Match Hue to get this done.

1. Select your shot



2. Apply the “Color Corrector 3-way” filter



3. Set your black levels by clicking the small arrows at the end of the black level slider of the color corrector window…



… so that your adjusted black levels sit right on the black line of the Waveform scope



4. Now, set your white levels by clicking the small arrows at the end of the white level slider of the color corrector window.



There aren’t any real whites in this shot, so I raised the levels a bit to give the picture more “snap,” but didn’t take them all the way to the limit.



With this first shot, as there wasn’t a white reference, so, instead, I did a color balance on the mid-gray toy using the eye dropper tool (#1), then color balanced on the black tube top of the girl at the center top of the picture using the black eye dropper tool (#2).


Then, looking at my NTSC monitor, I increased the saturation (#3) until the puppy’s fur started glowing.



This is the shot I ended with.


Now, one option to color balance the next shot is to simply copy the settings from this filter into my next shot, using Edit->Paste Attributes. And, I tested it and it works. You end up with a perfectly fine result.

However, to illustrate how Match Hue works, let’s do something different.

1. Select the second clip in the sequence and apply the Color Corrector 3-way filter


2. Double click the clip to load it into the Viewer


3. Click on the Color Corrector 3-way tab in the Viewer


4. Important – position your Timeline playhead in the earlier, color balanced clip



5. Click the Match Hue eyedropper to select it



6. Click on a section of the puppy’s fur in the color corrected shot that is in both shots. In this case, I clicked at the top of the ear.



Notice that the color chip in the Match Hue selector has turned brown. Notice, also, that the mid-gray color selector has turned green.


This means that, instead of looking for a mid-gray, the color selector will CONVERT the color you click it on INTO the color in the Match Hue color selector.


7. Move the Playhead in the Timeline to your second shot to display your second shot in the Canvas.



8. Select the green mid-gray color selector and click in the Canvas at the top of the puppy’s ear. Notice that the color has instantly changed so that the color of the fur in the new shot matches the color of the fur in the first shot.

This technique is especially useful when matching colors in product shots or where reference colors are missing.

Just for comparison, here are the before and after versions of the two puppy shots.

Ta-DAH! We got the “golden” back.


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