Difficulty with Black Levels on different Monitors

New Here ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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Hello all, 

 

I've been dealing with some issues regarding black levels on my footage. I have some lowlight product shots, so naturally the backgrounds are supposed to be pure black. The frustration I have been encountering is that when I am editing on my Macbook, it looks fine and after exporting, all looks good too. 

 

However, when i open that same export on my windows it looks flat and horrendous. If I masked around it, the line of the mask is super obvious. The mask being pure black and the footage more flat and not matching. So because everything looked fine from Macbook, I decided to edit on my windows instead. I was previously told to have "Display Colour Management" selected in my Preferences/Settings, which I made sure of was and when I edit in Premiere it looks fine. Then when I export again, the export looks horrendous. The black levels aren't matching, the masking is super obvious. Then in my preferences I de-selected "Display Colour Management" and in the edit, it doesn't look great but it does display the "flatter" look that it is giving overall - but this time more extreme than what the final export shows. It has a very muddy and overly banded look. So what I do is from there I adjust the black levels to a lower number until it hits a pitch black. Then I switch back again to "Display Colour Management" to fine tune from there and then export. Most of the time it works okay this way. However, this is a super inefficient workflow and just complicates a lot. 

 

Please note that these shots are not shot in any LOG profile, so the flatter look isn't caused by that. 

 

My PC is self-built and overall very strong and has great specs, the only problem being right now that I have no graphics card due to the graphics card shortage that has been going on the past 1.5 years. I assume that may have to do with it perhaps which is why I sometimes edit on my Macbook, which I know isn't ideal but was told it is great for colour grading. But if I am editing on my Macbook how do I ensure that everything I am seeing will be viewed the same way on other monitors? I do use Lumetri Scopes and everything was great according to the scopes but had to push the black levels even further. 

 

I export in H.264 1080 x 1080 

 

I hope this is making sense. I would send screenshots, but unfortunately the project I am working on right now is for a company and cannot release any current screenshots so I hope my descriptions are making sense of some sort.

 

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

 

Thank you

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Editing , Export , Hardware or GPU

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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check here:

https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/using/color-management.html

 

displays differ on playback software and when played back on other screens

you also mentioned that there is no graphics card on your windows machine,

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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On your MacBook, try playing the exported files in a player other than QuickTime Player. I recommend VLC. It's free, legit and stable. If it looks like junk in VLC then there are other issues to discover. 😀

Generally, if your levels are good on the scopes, the clip is graded correctly. If it also looks good and as expected on your editing monitor, then so much the better. 

The sad thing is that once you export the clip (with proper codec and set parameters), you lose all control over how the world will see it. You can probably go to six different people and your video will have six different looks on their display devices. 

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Guide ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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All programs are going to playback the video a tad bit different and all computer screens are a tad bit different. You can compensate for that as seen in the video below. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7EGNJop_HE

This video demonstrates a method to have your rendered images that are upload to YouTube look like what you see in the GUI of Premiere Pro.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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Jeff's comment about having no control once you've released your baby into "the wild" is spot on. So like he says, you have to grade your blacks/whites especially to the scopes.

 

Unless you're running on a system like a pro colorist with say a $6,000USD Flanders monitor running from a BlackMagic or AJA breakout-device so it doesn't go through the GPU ... and have that monitor professionally calibrated and profiled with a LUT stored in the monitor to run it from.

 

THEN ... you can grade both by the scops and by the look of the image.

 

Every screen out there will show that image differently, some rather dramatically so. You have no control.

 

But also, you're working between that Mac, which uses a different set of "standards" for playing Rec.709/SDR video than anyone else, whether broadcast/streaming/PCs/whatever. So you simply cannot get the same image in the monitor from the Mac and the PC using 'standard' players. Not physically possible, thanks to Apple.

 

Apple set up ColorSync to do the CM work on their OS ... with two odd choices: first, it doesn't apply the second required transform function (display transform) ... and second, it uses the odd 1.96 gamma instead of the standard 2.4.

 

So take the same file ... on the Mac, it will typically look lighter (especially in the shadows) and less saturated than that same file on a PC.

 

Now, if the player doesn't allow ColorSync to control things, then you get a lot closer. So Jeff's suggestion to try VLC player is an excellent one. It doesn't work with ColorSync settings.

 

For browsers, Chrome & Safari allow ColorSync control, Firefox typically doesn't.

 

ANYONE working on a Mac ... and really, most PCs too ... should always have the Preferences option for Display Color Management set. It tells Premiere not to assume your system is perfectly set for Rec.709, and it instead checks the monitor's ICC profile and remaps the image within Premiere to more closely be a Rec.709 image.

 

Neil

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Guide ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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If you want Avid's Media composer on the PC to match Premiere Pro on the Mac 100% you would need 3rd party hardware. That being said not only will the Mac and PC match using different software they will match the camera 100%. As I have stated many times before the iMac and Quick Time are not an industry standard nor is a Dell laptop and OBS studio an industry standard. If anyone doubts the power of 3rd party hardware the video below might be helpful. 




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Mentor ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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that's a great question. So, mac players will try to play it at gamma 1.96 and most other players at 2.2 or 2.4. If uploading to web, make sure you export as Rec. 709-A (in colormanagement export tab, which will encode a metadata gamma tag of 1.96) and make sure video levels are 16-235.  Vlc, in fact, can change how the output is displayed, by changing the default decoder, either opengl or something else. I recommend 1.96 for web, and 2.4 for bluray/TV. As for computer players, there's so many that do different things...

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Guide ,
Mar 07, 2022 Mar 07, 2022

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Back in 1985 everyone watched video on the TV with NTSC standards. A lot of things have changed since then. 

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