Disclaimer/disclosure: I receive royalties from VASST and have received many complimentary copies of their training DVDs. I have no affiliation with Stu Maschwitz's DV Rebel's Guide or its publisher. Graeme Nattress (the guy behind Nattress Film Effects) is a friend of mine; I received a free copy to write my tutorial.
This DVD is put out by my friends at VASST and I appear in a very small bonus section on the disc. This material covers monitoring and calibration issues and was shot before the FCP disc was produced. I was not involved in the production of this training DVD.
The NLEs that I use the most are Sony Vegas and Final Cut Pro so it's nice to see a DVD come out for color correction in FCP. Note that this DVD covers the color correction tools from inside Final Cut and not Apple Color. Read below to see if the built-in tools are appropriate for you.
Here's my rundown on which tool is appropriate for the job:
Apple Color: I have used Color back when it was a product called Final Touch. The problem with Color is that the conform process can be painful, and many of these issues have lasted a while. See this thread: Color/Final Touch - lots of heavy bugs and issues. There are a lot of 'landmines' in Color... don't believe the Apple reality distortion field. Color is good if you want to spend a lot of time on color correction and are really into it. But if you fall into that camp, I would suggest using After Effects instead.
If you make independent films and like to spend time enhancing the colors of your footage, get a copy of After Effects and a copy of Stu Maschwitz's DV Rebel's guide. After Effects can pretty much do what Color can do. But on top of that, you can also do things like realistic glow effects, motion stabilization and visual effects work. If you're really into color correction and have to wear multiple hats, use After Effects. It can be a daunting program since it can do so much. But if you are hardcore, this is the program to learn. See my After Effects conform notes.
Nattress Film Effects: These are a set of FCP plugins. The main one lets you add color curves to your footage to emulate film's built-in 'color curves'. It is a cheaper alternative to Magic Bullet and renders much faster. I have a tutorial on using Nattress Film Effects on my site. Because these are Final Cut plugins, the interface is klunky as you have to deal with a long list of sliders. However, if you want a film look emulation plug-in, Graeme's plugins are very handy.
If you are hardcore about color correction, I suggest skipping Color and learning After Effects instead. There are third party filters such as Magic Bullet, Colorista, Nattress Film Effects that are halfway between full-blown color correction (i.e. Color, After Effects) and what Final Cut can do. Now this is just my opinion, but Final Cut plugins are mostly half-baked. At the end of the day, they are limited by their klunky interface, they tend to lack real-time performance, and lack advanced features like motion tracking. Either go all the way (i.e. Color, After Effects) or stick with the simple and effective color correction tools in Final Cut.
If you want to use Color or After Effects, getting the project into those programs is time consuming and you have to deal with learning programs that behave very differently than Final Cut. Also, they lead to a much slower workflow. Stick with the tools already in FCP if you want something simple, effective, and fast.
With that being said, let's talk about the DVD.
As mentioned above, skip this DVD if you are hardcore into color correction and have lots of time to spend on your projects.
The trainer, Richard, talks slower in this DVD than he does in real life. I'm an impatient guy. I tend to watch all training material at faster than 1X speed. If you're impatient like me, get DVD playback software that can do this.
And lastly, this DVD will not teach you how to make your film look like 300. It will not do that.
The thing I like the most about this title is that it weighs in at a whopping 3 hours and is very thorough. It covers all of the color correction problems you will run into, e.g. color casts / white balance problems, underexposure, matching shots, etc. This DVD also contains media files and FCP projects for you to practice the techniques demonstrated in the video and follow along. This DVD is very practical as it will teach you how to solve all the major color correction situations that you will run into.
Richard breaks down the material in an easy to understand manner and doesn't assume that you know all the color correction terminology because you've already been doing this for years (sometimes I make this mistake...). He also does a good job in explaining complicated concepts like reading the waveform monitor and vectorscope. Some people find the scopes daunting because they have no idea what they're looking at (scopes refers the waveform monitor and vectorscope). Thankfully, the DVD has chapters devoted to them and does a good job in demystifying them. They aren't that scary.
This DVD will teach you more than you wanted to know about about using the color correction tools in Final Cut Pro. If you are confused about color correction or don't understand it, this DVD will clear things up.
I hope this review helps! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at glennchan AT gmail.com.
VASST Color Correction in Final Cut Pro - a review by Steve Douglas.
Favorite quote: "There is, at the end of the disc, a bonus chapter on proper monitor calibration narrated by another VASST trainer. It is an area that can be essential to achieve proper coloration for any project. The narrator did a good job though he seemed to be a bit nervous facing the camera." (Yes, I am that guy.)