Learn to Easily Match Color in Final Cut Pro (Balance Color)

Final Cut Pro January 9, 2022 4 min read

The Match Color option in Final Cut Pro is a powerful tool to get your color grading started and a handy one for those quick fixes. Despite being a fantastic tool for video editors to use, it is difficult to find the right button by accident. So for those of you new to color grading or editing in general, let’s look at how color matching in FCPX works.

Learn the Match Color Feature in FCPX

The Final Cut Pro Match Color functions are a fantastic tool for color grading and correcting your clips. The Match Color effect maps the grayscale and color values from a good clip to a bad clip. It doesn’t replace any colors but blends the new colors with the old.

The Match Color effect uses the current state of a clip, so if you’ve already added the color grading effect, these will be considered with the match. This is handy when you need to match a clip to a specific grade or unhelpful when you want to match the clip to the raw image.

The color matching is not perfect, and while it improves the original clip, you’ll never get the quality results you can from manually color grading your videos. Remember, the color grades you can create will depend on how the footage was shot, and color matching is by no means a ‘fix all’ solution.

Considering the variables, however, the Color Match tool has a lot of uses and can be a handy, time-saving solution to simple color issues. For example, color matching is fantastic for adjusting shots with small lighting variants over time. You can also use this feature to change the tone of a washed-out clip.

Part 1: Match Color with Your Video Clips in Final Cut Pro

Color Matching in Final Cut Pro is very simple and only takes a couple of clicks. The critical thing to remember is which of your clips you are matching to which, as it can quickly become confusing when working with a lot of footage.

  1. Edit your clips and make sure you know which clip you are matching to which.
  2. Select the clip you’ll be applying the Color Match effect to.
  3. At the bottom of the media viewer, select the Magic Wand drop-down menu.
  4. From the list, choose Match Color.
  5. In the media viewer, you will now see 2 views. The clip you want to apply the effect to and an empty viewer that will show where your cursor is positioned.
  6. Run your cursor over the shot you are matching to, and choose a frame that represents the color values you want to achieve.
  7. Click on the clip, and the media viewer will freeze that frame on the left-hand side.
  8. If you’re satisfied with your selection, hit OK at the bottom of the media viewer.
  9. Your Color Match effect will be in the Inspector, where you can turn it on and off to see the difference.
  10. If you wish to change the reference frame for the color match, hit the Choose button alongside the Source Setting, and reselect your frame.

Part 2: Uses for the Color Match Tool

Color Matching will give you different results depending on the clips you are matching and what you want to achieve. Let’s look at 3 different use cases and compare the results.

Fine Adjustments

As we’ve already mentioned, Color Match is a fantastic tool for correcting shots that differ from lights. If, for example, you are shooting an interview using natural light, the Color Match effect can be super helpful when correcting minor differences in light levels as the day goes on.

Before

After

Washed Out Shots

If you’re working with over-exposed footage or footage without much color information, you can use similar shots to create a pretty good Color Match Effect. Whatsmore, you can use still images as a basis for your match, so it’s always worth getting a quality still while you’re filming.

Matching Tones

So far, we’ve shown you a straightforward method to using Color Matching to create consistency between two shots of the same thing. However, the FCP tool can be used to match one clip to any other clip or photo, which can be super helpful when working with stock footage. 

In this example, the performer watching a film is shot using blue light. A simple color match to our fire shot can quickly give you the basics of a fantastic grading effect.


As with all color grading techniques, the results you achieve will depend on the footage you’ve recorded. Color matching is a useful function that can help make minor color corrections quicker or give you a solid foundation for your color grading techniques. If you want to find out more, check out these handy guides to Final Cut Pro color correction and color grading.