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How to simplify your Final Cut Pro workflow with saved effect presets

If you find yourself constantly having to tweak the color effects in Final Cut Pro clips, here's a way to simplify your workflow and ensure you always have consistent color.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Final Cut Pro on iPad

I create a lot of videos. Not only do I stand in front of the camera and film, but I'm also behind the camera setting the videos up, editing them, and coloring them. Needless to say, all this work keeps me busy.

But one of the more challenging tasks is getting the color right. This challenge is especially tough when you're working with a series of videos. I have two main video series I work with: one is for a client and the other is my personal YouTube channel, where I post a video each week that focuses on both the human and creative sides of being an artist (in my case, a writer and actor). 

Also: 3 ways to improve the color in your video clips with Final Cut Pro

Those two series require a different look and feel. One is fairly sterile and professional, and the other is artistic. Not only do I use two specific cameras and lenses, but I also color the videos differently. And that, my friends, is where things can get a bit tricky.

Coloring a video can be tedious work. It's all about making tweaks to things like temperature, saturation, shadows, midtones, and highlights, where the slightest change can make a big difference. 

I used to try and handle this task manually, teasing those numbers up or down to match what I'd previously done. As you can imagine, that kind of detailed work is best suited to someone with infinite time on their hands -- and I need to work quickly.

Also: How to use Photoshop: 5 basic steps to edit a photo

Thankfully, I discovered a way to save an effect preset. What once took me more time than I had to spare now takes seconds. I only have to create the exact look I want once by manually tweaking the color settings, and then I can save the setting as an effect preset. After I've saved the preset, that perfect look is always just a click away.

This trick has saved me so much time. Let me show you how it's done.

How to create an effect preset

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need for this trick is a working, updated copy of Final Cut Pro on a MacOS device. Of course, you'll also need a video clip to work with, but that's it. Let's make your workflow more efficient.

1. Open Final Cut Pro and add a clip

The first thing to do is open Final Cut Pro. Once the app is opened, locate a clip you need to colorize and drag it onto the timeline.

2. Make your color changes

One thing to keep in mind is that you can create effect presets for Effects, Sound, or Color. What you cannot do is create a single preset that includes all three. So, to create a color preset, make sure to click the clip you want to edit, click the Color icon at the top of the right pane, and then make all of the color changes you need for the clip. 

The Color adjustment pane in Final Cut Pro.

You can either use the color wheels or the sliders below to make your changes.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Save your preset

Once you've made changes, you'll see a Save Effects Preset button at the bottom of the edit window. Click that button to open the Save Preset window.

The Save Effects Preset button.

This button only appears after you've made changes to the clip.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Name your preset

In the resulting popup, give your preset a name and click Save.

The Effects Preset Save window.

You don't need to change the Category or Attributes. Just give the preset a name and click Save.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Using your new effect preset

Now that you've created the new preset, using it is incredibly simple. 

Also: The best laptops for graphic designers

Let's say you've created a new video in the series and you need it to have the same look as the others. Load that clip into Final Cut Pro, select the clip in the timeline, select the effects option in the Effect pane at the bottom-right corner of Final Cut Pro, scroll until you find your preset, and double-click the preset. 

This step will automatically apply the exact colorization you added to the preset, so you can be certain you get a consistent look to your videos, without having to spend an inordinate amount of time doing so.

The Final Cut Pro Effects window.

The preset I use for my YouTube videos is called MUSE CINE.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Congratulations, you just made your Final Cut Pro workflow considerably more efficient.

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