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FAQ: Premiere Pro 2022 Color Management for Log/RAW Media

Nov 26, 2021 Nov 26, 2021

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The Premiere 2022 release, the 22.X build series, introduced several new Color Management options and changed the default handling for several LOG and RAW media types. Also changed were the default handling for 'device produced' media in HLG or PQ. Users need to be aware of the changes to continue using several Sony, Canon, and Panasonic cameras in particular. And with the media now produced from most phones and "devices".


I'll give a short practical control setting list, and then a more complete explanation below.


(Also check out this article on monitoring HDR within PrPro2022)


Clip Color Management

There are now color management settings for clips in the Project panel. Right-click one or more clips, Modify/Interpret Footage. Down at the bottom are several color management options. If your media is 'blown out' on a working timeline, this is where you will start to correct it. For most work at this time, you will want to use the Rec.709 override option.


There were a few manufacturer Log formats that had default transform behaviors in the previous version. Those have all been changed, and many more log formats are now recognized as such.


In Premiere Pro 2022, recognized Log formats may or may not be transformed into Rec.709, the user may need to do so in the Project panel.


And any phone or other "device" produced media that has an HLG or PQ color tag, may or may not be transformed to Rec.709 on import.


Again, unless the user chooses to do so in the project panel.


One further caveat: if you have a clip that Premiere recognizes as HLG or PQ, and use the command to "create new sequence from clip" ... Premiere may still create a sequence with a Rec.709 color space. While dropping the HLG clip onto that sequence without applying color management to Rec.709.


You must check the Sequence color space now.


These are major changes in default color management behavior. And at this time there may be inconsistencies in the process. And still, some media types allow a user CM setting in the Project panel, but some do not.


Sequence Color Management

There are now color management settings for Sequences. With the timeline panel 'active', with a blue line, go to the Sequence/Sequence Settings menu. There are now options for sequence color space there. Again, for most work, using the Rec.709 color space is still the 'normal' expected one for output deliverables and monitors. This should (nearly) always be set the same as the clip's color management.


At this time, Premiere may still 'default' to creating a Rec.709 sequence even when you drop an HLG or PQ on a blank timeline, or use the "new sequence from clip" command from the bin. Yet not apply any transform to fit the clip to the sequence. You have to check and correct sequence settings as needed.



Scopes Color Management

There are also color management settings in the Scopes panel. Right-click, select the desired color space from the list of Rec.601, Rec.709, Rec.2020, and Rec.2100 in either HLG or PQ. If you are working in HDR, then after setting the scopes to an HDR color space option, you will need to also set the scope scales to HDR with the control in the lower right corner of the Scopes panel.



Export Color Management

To export in HLG or PQ, anything other than Rec.709, you should scroll down through the Preset list for your desired Format to select the HDR options, for either HLG or PQ. They now do have the presets, and it makes exporting in an HDR format much easier and more reliable.


But you do need to SELECT the HDR presets to get a proper HDR export.


SDR Exports from HLG/PQ Media*

To get "standard dynamic range" or SDR exports from sequences or clips that are HLG/PQ, you need to set your format/preset in the Export dialog, but also go to the Export Dialog Effects tab and select the "SDR Conform" option.


The default settings for Brightness, Contrast, and Soft Knee may work to at least get the image within usable values. To get an exact result, you would need to test those settings yourself.


Making SDR Proxies from HDR/HLG/PQ Media*


To make proxies from HLG/PQ media that can be used in an SDR/Rec.709 timeline, you need to (as above) go to the  Effects tab of the Export dialog, and select the SDR Conform option.


Why did things change?


The nature of the business and the gear is changing rapidly. As of this date, 26 November of 2022, most of the many colorists I know have still not delivered a single HDR job professionally. A few others have done quite a number. But the vast majority of content being produced at the moment is still Rec.709's "SDR" ... standard dynamic range.


So why are changes being implemented in Premiere Pro at this time?


Because first, the cameras are changing rapidly. Many prosumer and pro cameras are now able to set a CM for a clip to either HLG or PQ. Camera operators are frequently selecting those settings because they want the widest dynamic range possible. So for many editors, the HLG or PQ or other wide dynamic range media is what they are getting handed to work with.


Even though many of the other visual assets of a job, and the final output, will still be in Rec.709.


Second, many phones and "devices" are now defaulting to recording in HLG/PQ, and so many prosumer users have media that is in those wider color spaces. Many of the clips that have been posted on this forum since the 2022 release are phone media with HLG or PQ 'tags'.


And third, more content is being produced or delivered as HDR, and the percentage of content produced as HDR is going to go up perhaps fairly rapidly over the next year. The users need an app that can accomodate the new dynamic range and tonal range needs.


What are SDR, HDR, and Rec.709 versus "wide gamut color"?


There are two differences between Rec.709 media and most HDR media, whether P3, HLG or PQ.


The first is the tonal range difference. Total image brightness, or contrast range. Rec.709 is now referred to as SDR, or standard dynamic range. It has a far narrower tonal range limitation for the visual data. It is designed to be used compressing the visual tonal range into a 100 nit total brightness range. It is what we've been using all along. The broadcast TV standard.


HDR media, whether HLG or PQ, is non-limited for tonal range values. And may vary up to several "stops" of tonal difference past what SDR allowed.


The second difference between HDR and Rec.709/SDR is the color space and gamut difference.


Rec.709 specifies the color space using the sRGB color primaries. It is also a fairly "shallow" color gamut.


HDR can be one of several wider color gamuts such as P3/D65 or Rec.2100HLG/PQ or Rec.2020. The difference is not only that the color space is "wider", the gamut ... think of this as the 'depth' of color hues available ... is also "deeper". (Currently Premiere handles all wide-gamut media in a Rec.2020 or Rec.2100 "container".)


To demonstrate the difference, this Sony S-log-3 MXF clip shows dramatic dynamic range and color space/gamut differences in the Lumetri scopes and Program monitor, depending on how it is "managed". As imported, it was interpreted as an HLG clip in the bin. Creating a sequence from the clip, Premiere made a Rec.709 color space timeline.


But when this HLG clip is placed on a Rec.709 timline, the scopes and the image will be completely blown out.


That HLG-interpreted clip will not be displayed in a usable fashion on a Rec.709 sequence. This shows the scopes of the Rec.709 sequence, scopes set to Rec.709, but the clip properties set by Premiere to HLG.

Sony S-log3 HLG on Rec709 Scopes.PNG

Note how note only is this clip totally 'blown out' to whites for much of the image, but the Vectorscope YUV color data is way outside of allowable range.


This next graphic shows the same clip. I went into the bin, using Modify/Interpret Footage, and selecting the CM option  to Override to Rec.709. Now Premiere showed it in visual "log" manner within the Rec.709/SDR range, with tonal values from 18 to 85 nits.

Sony S-log3 as Rec.709.PNG


Just to get it to the full 0-100 nits of SDR took expansion of the image via contrast controls. And after a slight contrast expansion, it was a very nice image. This is the behavior we have expected in the past.


But the same clip, using the "original" Sony S-log-3 Interpretation in the clip properties, but with a change in the Sequence Settings and the Scope color management settings to HLG/HDR, is shown here:

Sony S-log3 HLG on HLG timline and scopes.PNG

The only clipping is the whites of an outside window, and there are no color excursions. You would need an HDR capable monitor set properly between the OS and Premiere to see the image correctly in the Program monitor, of course. And note those nit values on the left-side scale! In excess of 4,000 nits!


By simply adjusting the Exposure slider down, and lifting the Color Wheels 'shadow' tonal slider, I was able to get a very good HDR image displayed with very little clipping anywhere. This on my little 358 nit monitor in its "HDR Emulation" mode.


That is a massive difference in the display of the same image: from a 69 nit tonal range in SDR, to a 4,000 nit tonal range in HDR! And both images are quite nice images when the entire color management 'chain' is set properly. The image can be used either Rec.709 or HLG.


How usable are HDR videos at the moment?

Very few current consumer devices can even sustain 1,000 nits. The only displays fully capable of 4,000 nits and up that I know of currently in use, are the high-end Grade 1 Reference monitors by FSI and Sony. Those monitors sell for above $20,000 USD.


Relatively few screens can actually show brightnesses above 400 nits. And most colorists consider an absolute minimum of 600 nits as necessary to allow for a 'base' feel of HDR-ness to the content. It is coming yes, but ... fully HDR capable screens of the 800 or better nits for consumer use are still spendy and not that common.


Previous Behavior for LOG/RAW Media


In 2021 and prior releases, the log and RAW media types, where PrPro had any 'default' behavior, it was to apply a manufacturer's transform process to conform the clip to a Rec.709 "view". Most users were unaware of this process. There were only a few formats where Premiere applied a default transform.


And if Premiere applied a default transform, any changes the user made in the Lumetri color panel were applied after the default transform process. If the transform process clipped whites or crushed blacks, that image data was simply gone.


Many other log media types were simply displayed as "log" images, but with an assumption of Premiere Pro within the Rec.709 standards. And showed in the monitor with the narrow or compressed 'native' tonal range we are all used to seeing for Log media. The user needed to manually 'normalize' the contrast to a full Rec.709 tonal range.


There were (and are) several formats where there is a special panel on a sequence for Source settings. Such as for RED, Arri's ArriRAW, and BlackMagic BRAW camera media. Those haven't changed.


Changes in Premiere 2022


The Log and RAW media types that had a default transform to Rec.709 in previous versions may not do so anymore. Premiere Pro 2022 also does recognize many more of the Sony, Canon, and Panasonic log formats on import. And then may or may not apply a transform to Rec.709 when those images are applied to a timeline.


We users understand and expect that a Log image, displayed on a Rec.709 timeline, looks very "log-ish". That grayed-out look, no blacks, whites, or saturated colors.


But take that same clip, without any transform process, and drop it on an HDR sequence. The image will show as the full range image from the camera. In fact, with a very high dynamic range from blacks to whites, and full color. Yet again, this is without any "interpretation" or transform on the part of the program.


HLG is 'Hybrid LOG Gamma"


And that is what it seems we are all seeing with Premiere Pro 2022 and some log media formats. Log media is at times simply displayed at full image values as if on an HDR timeline set to HLG, unless the user overrides the new display default. And those values are typically well above the 100 nits max of an SDR/Rec.709 timeline.


Again, until and unless the user changes the clip properties.


The old default: transform to Rec.709. The new default at this time seems to be:: no transform unless the user chooses to do so.


That is a massive difference in how the same file is 'interpreted'. How it is displayed.


Processing changes: bringing back clipped White values


The processing 'chain' has also been changed. For "clipped" data due to any auto-tranform, the Lumetri panel tonal controls may all be used to bring down too-bright values. The Exposure slider in the Basic tab has by far the widest capablitity for White tonal value changes so that should be your 'default' control to bring back blown out whites.


If additional control is needed, the Basic Whites control, the RGB Curves tool, and the Color Wheels tonal slider can provide additional changes. Clearly, the default transform is applied after the Lumetri controls.


Both the Rec.709 and HDR/HLG images will be useful and valid for certain workflows. But the user MUST know how to manage the color management within Premiere Pro to get the desired result for each job.


R. Neil Haugen

(image used by permission, and courtesy user " maRedlich ")

[Edited 7 December 2021]

[* Edits added 5 January 2022]

Editing , Export , FAQ , Formats , How to , Import , User interface or workspaces






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Aug 10, 2023 Aug 10, 2023

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When trying to import my srgb prores 444 footage from after effects into premiere it interprets it as rec709 and is not letting me select srgb.Screenshot 2023-08-10 123310.png





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Aug 10, 2023 Aug 10, 2023

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The assigned color space for Rec.709 is sRGB.





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