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Using 3rd Party Filters in FCPX: Who Needs a Colorist Anymore?

January 20, 2012 | By | 3 Comments

Originally posted  December 12, 2011 on 20k Films’ blog.

Very cool 3rd party filter provider, CrumplePop, just added ToneGrade™” which “makes it easy to apply HDR tone mapping to your footage” in FCPX. Here’s CrumplePop’s full description of the filter: By simply dragging and dropping ToneGrade™ onto your clip, you can create a subtle, “hyper-real” color grade that can be visually striking. ToneGrade™ works with Final Cut Pro X only.

CrumplePop ToneGrade™ from CrumplePop on Vimeo.


Anyone who doesn’t know what HDR is, it’s a very cool stylized look that you can easily give to photos on the iPhone and now with this ToneGrade filter, your video. Click here for more info on what HDR is.  iPhone’s in-camera app lets you take photos HDR style in your phone, so if you have an iPhone and want to see what HDR looks like, follow these instructions. Also, check out Macworld’s article on when and when not to use HDR on your iPhone.

CrumplePop also has other great FCPX filters like an easy split screen filter and a tilt-shift focus filter. Click here to see them in action. And they even offer some free FCPX filters for download here.

So what does the title of my blog post mean then? (Who needs a Colorist anymore?) It means that your life as an indie filmmaker just got easier, especially if you have zero money to hire and pay a colorist. Colorists are the people who help filmmakers add mood and atmosphere to their films using different stylized color choices that more often than not help add to the filmmaker’s narrative story as well.

Most recently, colorists were using the software, Color, Apple’s branded software, but now with FCPX, apparently all of the coloring you would need is built right into the program, so you don’t need Apple’s Color software (which came with FCP7  as part of a suite and was $1,000+ when it was new). Apparently, there is another color program called Da Vinci out that just made their software more affordable because Apple is discontinuing Color and will no longer release newer versions nor updates.

I genuinely feel for Colorists, because they are only going to make a living now on films with higher budgets who can afford to pay them for their time and expertise. But it seems like most of the film world, at least on the indie side of the spectrum is shifting–imagine millions of indie filmmakers all running across a globe from one end to the other causing the world to spin catacylsmically, uncontrollably out of orbit. Imagine that FCP7 was the Sun for these indie filmmakers and now they’re running around the globe trying to figure out what the hell they are going to do next in order to continue to make their films. Imagine that a large portion of the film industry is part of this pack of people too, because a lot of them were heavily invested in FCP7. And imagine another sun being discovered called FCPX and everyone is like screw that new sun, we want our old sun, it was bigger and better, which is true, but, really, and this is fitting in with my new current philosophy about filmmaking, business, and social media, but smaller IS better. And the only way to survive in this tech-roided out world, is to think smaller which right now for indie filmmakers means you’re going to stop hating on Apple and learn to love FCPX. Believe me, I know it’s hard, half the time I’m an FCPX hater too, but thanks to our new 20K Labs’ instructor, Andrew Gleason, who teaches ourEditing with FCPX workshops, I am learning to love FCPX. The only other video editing option is Premiere Pro 6 which has yet to be released.

20K Films will be testing out ToneGrade soon, and we’ll post more info as soon as we do!


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Comments (3)

  1. Shooter Steve

    Uhhh, what a load of crap this blog post is. My bet is you’re biggest film was a few hundred views on youtube. Indie can mean a lot of things and in context to this blog post indie means amateur. If you think the only colorist tools are ToneGrade, Color and Resolve then I say amateur. If you think ToneGrade can do for you film what a colorist with a real grading tool can do then double amateur. By all means use ToneGrade and FCPX if that’s all you can afford but to think that is anything more than merely adequate then well, amateur

  2. Paul Savant

    “Apparently, there is another color program called Da Vinci out that just made their software more affordable because Apple is discontinuing Color and will no longer release newer versions nor updates.”

    This sentence exposes how little you know about professional colour grading. Which wouldn’t be a problem if you didn’t write your article to come off as if you had all this experience.

    The only other video editing option IS NOT PREMIER 6. If you’ve ever used Premier 5.5, you would know even that is better than final cut X. (lets start with the fact that it can handle a variety of footage natively which final cut x still cant, such as RED). And then there’s Media Composer, which has been around for almost 20 years, and has made huge strides over the last 2 years at making it easier for Final Cut 7 users to switch. Both of which have color grading options.

    You clearly wrote this article with the best of intentions, but next time do a bit of research before you start to preach.

  3. Andrew

    Hi Shooter Steve, I think you are likely a colorist yourself, and that you’ve taken issue with the dramatic title of the article. Your method of argumentation is a little rough in resorting to calling anyone who thinks an indie film can be released without a hired colorist is an amateur. You even refer to Davinci Resolve as a tool for amateurs, when it is the tool that has literally been used by Hollywood colorists for $100 million dollar blockbusters. You might as well call the Red Epic and all 35mm film cameras toys while you’re at it.

    I digress though; if you were less disrespectful, there is an eloquent argument to be made here. It is that color correction tools being more readily available is great and all, but the reason you pay a colorist isn’t for his tools/software, but rather for his knowledge and artistry. FCPX/Resolve/Premiere/whatever may have all the tools required to color grade and finish James Cameron’s next film, but the skill of the individual doing the coloring will make all of the difference. As is stated in the text of the article though, if you are on a low budget it is great that anyone CAN access these tools now. Is it likely going to yield better results to hire a skilled and experienced colorist to grade your film? Certainly, but if you don’t have that sort of budget, and you do have a passion for learning all you can about color correction and grading, the tools are now fully democratized so that anyone can at least give their film “a look” that makes them happy with it. Especially given that Davinci is now offering a full free version, nearly anything is possible if you learn the skill set for film grading. A plethora of high end films, commercials, and documentaries have used these tools to grade their final product, and if it is good enough for them, I think our pretentious and uptight commenter might want to take it easy with all the accusations.

    Honestly Steve, I think you took a semi-sensational title personally and responded in kind. If the article were titled, “Color grading is more accessible to all” and the text said “a colorist is still the best way to go if it is in budget, but if not you have a veritable wealth of high end choices for coloring on your own at a price tag of free” you likely wouldn’t have said much anything at all.

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