How to Make the 'Pleasantville' or 'Sin City' Effect in Final Cut Pro X 10.4

January 13, 2018 1 Comment

How to Make the 'Pleasantville' or 'Sin City' Effect in Final Cut Pro X 10.4

In this tutorial we will show you how to make the 'Pleasantville' or 'Sin City' look with Final Cut Pro X's new colour tools

The films Pleasantville, Sin City and many music videos have all used the same technique. The isolation of a specific colour whilst the rest of the frame/spectrum has been completely desaturated into black and white.

This has always been a very popular look to achieve and the good news is that the new colour tools in Final Cut Pro X (10.4) make it even easier to get great results

The new tools in FCPX allow the editor very fine control over colours. Let's take this example of a brightly coloured image of a woman and try to isolate her red lipstick.

Pleasantville effect in Final Cut Pro X 10.4 with Hue_Sat Curves and colour correction

Use the shortcut CMD 6 to open up the colour correction controls in the Inspector.

The type of colour correction visible on opening will depend on what is set in the Preferences.

FCXP color correction preferences

We need to use the Hue/Saturation Curves which can be accessed from the dropdown menu.

FCXP color correction drop down menu

You will be presented with six different curves/lines, the one we are interested in is the second one down, HUE Vs SAT (Saturation).

Final Cut Pro X Hue versus saturation curves and controls

This control will adjust the saturation of a colour depending on the hue. The spectrum is displayed across the line. the higher the line, the more saturation for that hue.

You can change the display to show one line by using the drop-down menu in the top right corner. It makes adjusting the controls easier with a larger display.

Change colour control display in Final Cut Pro X

We need to isolate the red lipstick.

Click the eyedropper on the top left of the HUE Vs SAT control. 

Choose eyedropper tool to select colour in Final Cut Pro X

Then move over to your image or video and Click Drag an area of the colour you want to isolate. We enlarged the FCPX canvas here to help get the selection right without sampling any unwanted colours.

Sample color in Final Cut Pro X colour correction

This will automatically put three points on the colour line. The one we are interested in is the one on the far left that has the vertical line running through it. This is the hue of the lipstick.

Control point on colour correction curve in FCPX

Then all we have to do is reduce the saturation of every hue apart from the lipstick. Do this by dragging the other two control points down and towards the lipstick hue. Think of the curve being joined together at both ends. It is slightly unfortunate that red is pushed up against the left hand side.

Reduced saturation using curves in final cut pro X

And there you have your bright red lipstick on top of a black and white image. No plugins needed and no stacking of layers - this all happens on the clip. 

Isolated color in Final cut Pro X using Hue vs sat color correction controls

You can of course pick any colour, not just red. Here we have isolated the yellow and it makes reading the HUE Vs SAT curve slightly easier. We had to add an extra control point as the hues of the hat and vest were slightly different

Adding a control point to hue sat curves in Final Cut Pro X

Back to red and to go 'grungier' or to emulate the Sin City look, apply another colour correction instance, this time a Luma Curve which can be found in the Colour Curves selection.

Add a couple of control points to give it an 'S' curve to deepen the blacks and extend the highlights.

Grungy Sin City look in Final Cut Pro X

As with all keys, you might have to fine tweak the controls when the subject moves. You can keyframe the whole colour correction for a smooth transition.

You also might have to add a shape mask if the colour you isolated appears in the background. In the yellow example, you can see this happening in the woman's glasses reflections. 

One Final thought. Don't forget you can save this look as a custom effect by clicking on the Save Effects Preset button in the bottom right hand corner.

1 Response

Stephan Lambert
Stephan Lambert

July 27, 2020

Great effect indeed, thanks !
I was wondering if this woud be possible in apple motion 5.3 ?
Again, thank you for an advice.

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