Step 1: Locate the Color Corrector 3-Way Filter
Go to the Browser window under the Effects tab, and locate the Color Corrector 3-way video filter, which is located under Video Transitions in the Color Correction folder.
Step 2: Apply the Filter
Drag the Color Corrector 3-Way filter from the Effects tab to the Timeline and drop it onto the clip that you wish to perform the effect on. Applying this particular filter won’t let you see an instant change in the clip, however, as it requires you to further manipulate the filter’s parameters.
Step 3: Load the Clip into the Viewer Window
Double-click on the Timeline clip to load the clip back into the Viewer window and park the Playhead over the clip so you can see the changes in the Canvas window. Now that the clip has been loaded into the Viewer, you are able to access the parameters of the Color Corrector 3-Way filter you have applied to the clip. Although this step is quite elementary, it has the potential to create a mess if forgotten, especially if you’ve applied the same filter to multiple clips in the Timeline. Make sure you have both loaded the appropriate clip into the Viewer before you make changes to an applied filter and parked the playhead on top of that clip, or you’ll be left scratching your head as to why you don’t see the changes showing up. If you don’t do these two things, you could end up manipulating the filter parameters for a clip other than the one that is currently loaded into the Viewer. If you’re applying the effect to a single clip in the Timeline, this is less of an issue.
Step 4: Access the Color Corrector 3-Way Filter Parameters
The top portion of the Viewer window now displays the Color Corrector 3-Way tab. Click on the tab to access the parameters of the filter you have assigned to the clip. The Viewer window will display the filter controls. Locate the small disclosure triangle located at the bottom left corner of the box and click on it to reveal the Limit Effect Parameters.
Step 5: Isolate a Color
The next step is to carefully choose the color you want to isolate. The Limit Effect controls most of the parameters used to achieve this effect. Click on the eyedropper tool located on the right-hand side of the Limit Effect controls and, moving to the Canvas window, use the eyedropper to select the color you wish to isolate. In this tutorial, I selected the red of the subject’s lips for isolation. After you’ve made your color selection, uncheck the blue checkmarks located in the Limit Effect controls for limit (SAT) and limit (LUMA) only. The middle of the color ramp now reflects the color you’ve chosen.
Not every color selection that you make in your video will be from an evenly lit surface, so you may need to add additional samples to your isolated color. You can hold down the shift key while using the eyedropper to add different shades to your selection, or you can drag the four corners of the color ramp and expand your selection manually to ensure a cleaner isolation of color.
Step 6: Remove the Saturation
Drag the (SAT) slider to the left to remove the saturation. All areas of the clip that contain the isolated color will appear in grayscale. This is a great time to see if you have made a good selection for color isolation. As I mentioned before, not all surface areas containing the color chosen are shaded identically. Lowering the saturation reveals the areas where the isolation wasn’t successful and sometimes exposes areas of the image where that color was not noticeably present. At this point you can choose to widen the affected area by adjusting the four points of the color ramp until you have a clean effect, or go back and redo your color selections with the eyedropper and perhaps include a lighter or darker shade of the isolated color.
Step 7: Invert the Color Selection
This is where the magic happens. Click on the Invert Selection button located in the lower right corner of the Limit Effect Parameters box. The areas of your image that were previously grayscale, the isolated color, are now in color; the rest of image has been desaturated.
Tools Used: Final Cut Pro 6
Your Guide
Lonzell Watson
Lonzell is an Apple Certified Final Cut Pro Professional and Certified Avid Xpress Pro user. He is the author of Final Cut Pro 6 For Digital Video Editors Only and the soon- to-be-released Canon VIXIA High Definition Camcorder Digital Field Guide, both from Wiley Publishing, Inc. Lonzell began his career as a videographer and digital video specialist for the Web. He then used this experience to become a writer, director and producer. His work includes national commercials and television programs for PBS, Fox Sports, the Outdoor Channel, and C-SPAN, and video editing for pop superstar Mariah Carrey. Lonzell is a syndicated content writer with hundreds of published tutorials that relate to Apple’s Final Cut Studio product line.
Lonzell Says Keep In Mind…
This technique is a simplified play on color isolation made popular by such films as Pleasantville and Sin City. It is, nonetheless, a powerful tool to command the attention of an unsuspecting audience.

The key to using it successfully is to find a clip that has a subject with a very distinct color that you can single out. Clips with little movement tend to work best, as they require fewer adjustments and tweaks since color stays relatively constant.
[Check out how to do the same effect in Avid Liquid in the Studio/monthly tutorial archive online here.]
Lonzell Watson