Here’s an interesting color correction plug-in for Final Cut Pro X, Final Cut Pro 7 and Motion users: Tonalizer|VFX. Released last year by the Danish company Irudis, Tonalizer stands apart from all the other color correction plug-ins out there with its nuanced approach to the task. Plus, it can do some things that a lot of other FCPX plug-ins can’t. For starters, it doesn’t try to hit you over the head with canned presets and it doesn’t encourage extreme corrections. Instead, it makes much more subtle changes and attempts to take “into account the technical limitation of the original data, which are often highly compressed and thus delicate and easily prone to revealing posterization, noise and related compression-induced artifacts.” I’m not sure how it can tell a blown-out 7D shot from a blown-out Alexa shot but I’ve gotten some really nice, subtle looks on the 7D footage I used to test it.

When I first opened the Assist pop-up menu, I was surprised to see options for both noise reduction and aliasing reduction. I haven’t seen those in most other FCPX plug-ins I’ve used.

The controls, as you can see, are simple with some nice assist options.

The Split mode, above, is very handy when color correcting and lets me compare my before and after choices without having to toggle the correction on and off.

I also like being able to turn on the Show Clipping option to let FCPX show my excess ranges. That feature, familiar to those of us used to showing where our image is being clipped in FCP7, disappeared in FCPX.

The Tonalizer web site suggests that Tonalizer “can be used in combination with several other corrections and effects” and goes on to suggest that it is best to apply Tonalizer|VFX before you make your visual effects-style corrections or those to get a certain creative look. I combine it most often with FCPX’s main color tool, Color Board.

You can see how effective it is if you look first at this color correction from a flat Canon 7D shot. I used only the FCPX Color Board.

Here's that same correction with Tonalizer|VFX applied to enhance the correction.

Tonalizer lets you save and recall presets via a pop-up in the Inspector (notice the Presets pop up at the top of the Inspector controls in the above image). I didn’t think it was possible to save effects presets in FCPX, since a number of plug-ins that could do this cannot in FCPX. It’s obviously not an FCPX limitation after all.

Irudis (not to be confused with Iridas) has a promotion going on right now where the plug-in is available for half off at $89.50. That’s not a bad price for a tool that does everything from noise and aliasing reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, and showing clipping. At $180 it might be a bit harder to justify, especially for the $300 Final Cut Pro X user. But if you need some of the specific things this plug-in can do, it might be worth it at full price. Thankfully there’s a free trial so you can try it out before buying. Tonalizer is currently Irudis’ only product. The web site’s subtitle is Pro Video Software, however, so I’ll be watching to see what they come up with next.