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Color export in PP 2023 is washed out

Explorer ,
Nov 19, 2022 Nov 19, 2022

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Hi there,

 

Not sure what's going on but I have had nothing but problems with this latest version.

 

Now when I export I lose the boldness to the image and color is lost. What the heck is going on here?? 

 

I have read endless amounts of threads about calibration, but I have never had this issue until this version. The footage and timeline are both rec 709.

 

Attaching a screenshot. 

 

Thank you!

 

Steven

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Effects and Titles , Export

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LEGEND ,
Nov 19, 2022 Nov 19, 2022

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Are you working on a Mac perchance? I ask because Apple for some uknowable reason (they've been asked but refused to comment) set their ColorSync CM utility to use gamma 1.96 for the display of Rec.709 video.

 

That is the camera tranform function, NOT the 2.4 presecribed in the Rec.709 specs used by everyone but Apple. Which is why the same file played on a Mac in QuickTime player, Safari, or Chrome will look lighter and less saturated than it did in Premiere.

 

And will look as it did in Premiere on all non-Mac TVs, systems, etc.

 

So that is one potential issue ... if you're on a Mac, and comparing the image within Pr to outside, say in QuickTime player.

 

Neil

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Explorer ,
Nov 19, 2022 Nov 19, 2022

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Interesting. Yes I am on a Mac.

 

So the latest update in Apple OS did this? 

 

How do I change that?

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LEGEND ,
Nov 19, 2022 Nov 19, 2022

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It's been that way since the Retina monitors came out. There's a setting in the Preferences of Premiere, "Display Color Management" ... that was built for this. It doesn't 'fix' the problem, it does make Premiere look at the ICC of the monitor, and adapt the image displayed to more correctly be a Rec.709 image on whatever monitor is in use.

 

So within Premiere, you see a more correct version of the image. Same pixels, just a different gamma used.

 

It's more or less notable on different Macs depending on the settings involved, and I don't actually understand all of that.

 

But the problem is pretty straight-forward. You cannot get an image to look the same when displayed at two different screen gamma settings. So you have the Mac 1.96 "look" with lightened shadows, less visible (apparent) saturation. The all-non-Mac look with darker shadows, full saturation.

 

If you make it look dark and saturated enough for the Mac, you are probably getting crushed blacks and over-saturation on non-Macs.

 

And it does this with everything. Including all the professionally viewed media you watch on that Mac. Have you looked at stuff from streaming/YouTube/Web, & thought it was washed out? Probably ... not.

 

Because you didn't see the "original" image first. We see in very, very 'relative' terms.

 

Neil

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New Here ,
Oct 14, 2023 Oct 14, 2023

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I'm having the same issue with my Mac. Is there a fix?... Beyond this gamma lut youtubers are trying?

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LEGEND ,
Oct 14, 2023 Oct 14, 2023

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I've got a ton of posts here and elsewhere on color issues. I work for/with/teach pro colorists, so I've a lot of experience with all color things. So ... I can tell you, that what you are asking for is the proverbial Magic Fix for Color.

 

You need a bit of context here ... no pro colorist has ever found such a thing.

 

First, the bane of all pro colorists ... who work on massive, expensive setups with more money spent just on their calibration gear than you or I have spent on cameras, computers et al ... is that no one ... ever ... sees exactly what they saw on their spendy Grade 1 Reference monitor. And that is a special highly technical, incredibly expensive, monitor group.

 

Because ... the reality is, you can't even calibrate two "identical" screens, run off the same external LUT box, and necessarily have identical images in the same room. Even with high-end monitors. "Make this monitor look like that one" is an oft-heard and always grating comment in colorist's "attended sessions". They try to setup their rooms so the clients cannot see the colorist monitor from where they view the client monitor.

 

Now ... throw in uncalibrated screen types, in all sorts of viewing environments from daytime outside to night-time darkened bedrooms, offices, whatever ... with every screen doing things "to enhance the viewing/gaming experience" by mucking with contrast, saturation, and brightness ... you get the idea? 

 

I guarantee, that not once in your life, have you EVER viewed a pro-produced movie/video that looked exactly like it did in the colorist's suite. All colorists work to a tightly controlled, calibrated and then profiled image standard, and then ... let it GO. It's one of the most heavily taught early concepts in colorist training.

 

So now that we've got expectations perhaps a bit more realistic, let's look at Real Life.

 

You're apparently on a Mac ... the Retina monitors are of course capable of looking quite pretty. However ... remember that bit about all screens mucking about with things?

 

If you're talking SDR ... standard dynamic range, Rec.709 video ... Apple blew it big time. The long-used standards for Rec.709 call for a display gamma of 2.4. But Apple set the ColorSync utility to use a display gamma of 1.96 ... !

 

Which is, actually, using the camera transform, or "OETF" (opto to electrical transform funtion, from linear sensor data to mathematically recorded digital data) ... as the display gamma, instead of the standard 2.4. The display tranform is kinda sorta the obverse of the camera transform ... and technically called the "EOTF", for "electro to optical transform function", as it takes digital non-linear data back to a linear data form for the diplay device.

 

So a standard, by-the-specs broadcast compliant video, designed for use with gamma 2.4 display, will have lifted shadows, and an appearance of lowered saturation, when viewed on a Mac with a Retina monitor set to "Rec.709."

 

The same file, viewed on a properly setup system, will look fine. So understand, it's not the file itself, it's not Premiere ... it's the display of the file on a Mac, that is the problem.

 

And you cannot create a file that looks the same when displayed at two such widely different gammas. Ergo ... a worse mess than we would 'normally' have!

 

To compound things, some Macs have a system setting for "HDTV" ... and if you use that, rather than "Rec.709" in the system setting, then ... you get full-on correct Rec.709 display of the files!

 

So ... some Macs will use gamma 1.96 to display Rec.709 video, some will use gamma 2.4 ... so even in the Mac-verse, there can be different displays of the same file in the same apps!

 

But wait, there's more!

 

As ... all apps that allow ColorSync to "color manage" video display on standard Mac settings, will use the gamma 1.96. Like QuickTime player, Chrome, Safari.

 

But some apps used on Macs, do not allow ColorSync to control video display data. Such as VLC player and Firefox. And those that don't allow ColorSync control, probably will display Rec.709 video with gamma 2.4.

 

So depending on the app, you can see dramatically different images of the same file,  on the same computer screen!

 

What to do in all this mess?

 

Glad you asked. You've several options, one is a new one in Premiere 2024.

 

First ... work to the Rec.709 standards, and simply ... let it GO out in the Wild. As you don't have any control how it's viewed anyway, and ... at least ... if you work tightly to the Rec.709 standards, your work, viewed on all other screens, will look relatively, on that screen, as all other pro-produced media.

 

Well, it ain't never gonna look like it did on your screen anyway, right?

 

Second ... use the Display Color Management option in Premiere, and ... this is the new part ... set the display gamma setting in the new Lumetri panel's Settings tab to the 1.96/QuickTime option. 

 

Now, it should look pretty similar both inside Premiere on your Mac, and outside of Premiere on apps that allow ColorSync to set color management for Rec.709 media.

 

Of course, on any fully broadcast compliant system, like mine ... the shadows will be dramatically dark if not fully crushed. Oh, and maybe with VLC or Firefox on your Mac.

 

Third ... as some do ... use the Display color management option checked, but ... keep the display gamma setting in Lumetri to 2.2/web, so you see a bit lighter image in Premiere, and will therefore tend to correct it a bit darker. So it's maybe a bit too dark on my system, and probably a noticeable amout "light" on a Mac. But kinda in-between.

 

Fourth ... as a few do ... set the Display Color Mangement on, use gamma 2.4/broadcast, and put an Adjustment layer over the whole sequence prior to export. In Lumetri on the AL, pull either the Color Wheel's Mids brightness slider down a bit, or in the Basic tab, pull the Shadows control down a bit.

 

Do either just far enough so that the shadows are darker but not crushed. And that file will be a bit light on a Mac using 1.96, a bit dark on a PC or broadcast compliant system, but hopefully, not too bad either place.

 

Yea ... it's  a Pick Your Poison thing. Totally.

 

Neil

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Explorer ,
Feb 04, 2024 Feb 04, 2024

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This! Amazing explanation. Makes so much sense now.  Thank you for taking the time to write all that.

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