Monday, March 05, 2012

Yanobox Moods - easy color grading

Let's be clear; while I have aspirations to color grading, I'm still a novice. I've worked with the Three-way Color Corrector in Final Cut Pro 7 for quite some time; with varying success. I've also played a bit with the new color correction tool in Final Cut Pro X, and though it's different, it didn't make me feel like I could do much of a better job.

So I'm always interested in tools that might make color correction simpler, or easier. Enter Moods from Yanobox, a color grading plug-in that works in Final Cut Pro X, Motion and After Effects. I tried it out on Final Cut Pro X, and it runs within FxFactory.

To use Moods, choose Yanobox from the Effects list in Final Cut Pro X, and you see Moods, and a collection of Moods Presets. You can either drag the Moods effect onto a clip and then adjust the settings, or you can apply one of the presets to use as a starting point and then adjust any of the settings as you please.

Yanobox Moods applied to a clip in Final Cut Pro X

Moods Effect and Presets

Once applied to a clip, Moods provides a sort of heads-up display on the Project Preview window where you click and drag on each of the color circles to adjust the color in the preview window. Each circle represents a different control; brightness, contrast, shadows, mid tones, etc. The clip has to be selected in the Project for the editing controls to be available. You can also adjust the controls while in full screen mode, again, as long as the clip is currently selected in the Project.

When getting started - or if you don't use Moods that frequently - you'll probably want to use the Help Card option. This displays large circles above the color circles to tell you what the different options do. Visually it fits the interface of the software, but it also covers up quite a bit of the image. I think just displaying a label under (or over) the circle would be enough.

The Yanobox Moods controls, here displayed in the regular window, 
but they are also visible and manipulatable in Full Screen mode.
The Compare handle has been dragged into the center of the screen,
the left-hand side of the image shows "before" while the
right-hand side shows "after" color correction.

Adjusting parameters for Moods.

In addition to hiding the Help, you can also turn off the circles themselves by turning off Display Overlays. This leaves just the control points to click and drag. Finally, the Compare Handle can be moved to divide the display into before- and after-views of the image adjustment.

The color wheels don't do all of the adjustments; there are some options that are adjusted in the Effects settings panel, including four strength sliders and the ability to switch between a Classic and Punchy Mode, the latter increases contrast.

One odd thing I noticed; pressing Command-Shift 3 (to make a screen shot) seemed to lose the control handle if it was selected. This did not impact the operation of the filter.

I was quite impressed with how easy it was to adjust the sliders and come up with something pleasing to look at using Moods. Is it better than the Color Adjustment function in Final Cut Pro X? Is it easier? I don't know what I can tell you; it's different. The little color circles is more like working in the Three-way color corrector, which may be why I felt more comfortable with it.

But perhaps the thing I like most about it is the ability to adjust the settings with the image displayed at full screen. For me, I think that attracts me more than anything.

Yanobox: Moods [you can download a free trial]
Noise Industries: FxFactory

Note: Noise Industries provided me with a copy of the program for this review.

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