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"Why does my footage look darker in Premiere?" Color Q&A

Adobe Employee ,
Apr 26, 2019 Apr 26, 2019

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Courageous community member Matt Johnson made a video based on this document. Watch here for a visualization of the solution, and read on to understand why the color shift is happening in the first place.

 

 

1. What's the issue?

 

     a. "My exports look washed out when I view them in QuickTime player"

     b. "When I post my video on YouTube it looks less saturated and the blacks are raised"

     c. Footage appears darker after imported into Premiere Pro

     d. Help!! Premiere Pro CC is changing the color of my imported footage

 

When importing footage into Premiere Pro, the display of the video looks more saturated than when it is played back on other apps such as VLC, QuickTime, After Effects, or a number of web browsers like Safari or Google Chrome. When played back on YouTube through those web browsers, the video also appears less saturated than it does in Premiere. As far as we know, this is a Mac-only issue. If you're experiencing this behavior and you're on a Windows machine, please send me a private message!

 

Screen+Shot+2019-04-01+at+6.02.11+PM.png

Side by side, you can see that video in Premiere (left) is displayed with more saturation than the video displayed in QuickTime (right).

(Screenshots provided from this forum post)

Screen Shot 2019-04-30 at 10.59.50 AM.png

Quicktime on top, Premiere on bottom

(Screenshots from Boots Riley's "Sorry to Bother You")

 

2. Why is it happening?

 

a. Premiere displays video based on the assumption that your monitor is set to Rec709 color space and that your footage was recorded in reference to gamma 2.4, because that's the gamma standard for broadcast television. Gamma 2.4 displays with higher contrast — blacker blacks and whiter whites. It was chosen for broadcast television because the people who were deciding playback standards figured that people were watching TV in their dark living rooms, and they thought increased contrast levels looks prettier in that setting.

 

i. Premiere has a feature called "Display Color Management" that will coordinate with your monitor's display settings in order to correctly display in a Rec709, gamma 2.4 profile.

 

Premiere Pro > Preferences > General > "Enable Display Color Management (requires GPU acceleration)"

 

It's the last box on the list and it should always be enabled! For more detailed instructions, go here.

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 11.07.33 AM.png

 

b. Monitors have become fairly standardized over the years, but apps haven't. Other apps like QuickTime, Final Cut Pro, and web browsers like Chrome and Safari display video in a scene-referred gamma 1.96 profile despite what your monitor is set to. Gamma 1.96 profiles play video back in a way that looks closer to what you see in real life — lighter blacks and softer whites.

 

c. This gamma shift is completely dependent on what app you play your video back in, as most users have figured out on their own. FCP 10, QuickTime, and certain web browsers all play video back in the same way, so people assume that they're displaying the video "correctly" when in reality, it's just that they're displaying the video under similar standards. Your video files are fine! The actual color codes within the pixels of your video are not changing in between apps. The miscommunication is happening between the apps and the monitor they're being displayed on.

 

TL;DR Premiere uses the same display standards as broadcast television does. Other video playback apps like QuickTime have begun to adhere to different video playback standards. This is what causes videos to display differently in between each app.

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 11.33.44 AM.png

The graph above is a visual representation of the gamma display standards of Premiere Pro (orange), which dips into the darker end of the spectrum, compared to the gamma display standards of QuickTime (blue), which don't have the capability to display those dark colors and therefore QuickTime displays video with less saturation which gives it that "washed out" appearance.

(Graph and data by franciscrossman-J6rJng​)

 

3. But why is it worse on my new iMac monitor?

 

a. Newer Mac displays are wide color gamut (close to P3) and can display more vibrant colors than Rec709 is capable of reproducing. Without any conversion, your Rec709 colors will be displayed as if they were P3 and will appear much more saturated than intended. Display color management is designed to fix this. It maps the Rec709 values to the appropriate P3 values so that the colors look the same.

 

i. Scroll up for instructions on how to enable Display Color Management, or go here.

 

b. Again, this is a matter of display and playback. Your actual video file is fine and if it's played back on a different monitor, it'll display correctly!

 

4. Is there a way to get all my playback apps on the same page?

 

a. Yes! One of our engineers created a LUT that will darken your video the appropriate amount so that when you play it back in a different app, it will look as it did in Premiere. Technically speaking, the LUT will correct the mathematical difference between gamma 1.96 and 2.4.

 

i. Download the Gamma Compensation LUT here!

 

ii. After downloading the LUT (.cube file) and saving it somewhere accessible, prepare to export your sequence!

 

File > Export (Command+M or CNTRL+M) will pull up the Export Settings window, pictured below.

 

About halfway down the window, there's a few tabs to adjust encoding settings. Go to the tab marked "Effects" and you'll see an option to enable a Lumetri Look/LUT. Check that box, open the drop-down menu, and click "Select..." to navigate to the space you saved the LUT in.

 

iii. After you've selected the LUT, Premiere may display that there is "None" selected. That's a common glitch, the LUT has been applied. Sorry for the confusion!

Screen Shot 2019-04-26 at 3.14.49 PM.png

 

b. However, this needs to be the last thing you do to your video! Either that or you need to save a backup of your video without this LUT on it. Because this LUT is darkening the color code of the video, in some cases, it will darken to the point where you can't get the detail back.

 

c. If you want to take the LUT off and you don't have a LUT-less backup, you can apply this reversal LUT that will return your video to the color levels you had before you applied the LUT. Perform the same steps listed above with the "Undo Gamma Compensation" LUT!

 

If you have any other questions about this issue, feel free to send me a private message.

For other support issues, you can check out our company contact options here! Contact us | Adobe

Thank you all for your collaboration and discussion so we could better investigate this issue! You help us to help you.

 

-Caroline

 

[DOWNLOAD LINKS]

Gamma Compensation LUT

Undo Gamma Compensation LUT

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Community Beginner ,
May 31, 2021 May 31, 2021

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Hello Neil. Yes, this option is enabled in the Preferences.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 31, 2021 May 31, 2021

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This is odd, and I'm sure way past frustrating for you.

 

Wish I could figure out what's going on there, other than suggesting that you say use i1 Display Pro to calibrate the monitor for a more assured starting point.

 

Color management is pretty much a morass unfortunately. My colorist friends are pretty much either fatalistic about it, or constantly riled.

 

Neil

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Community Beginner ,
May 31, 2021 May 31, 2021

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Thanks for your answer.

 

Unfortunately I don't think that will solve the problem. I just tested with my old Apple LED Cinema Display from 2010 (well calibrated with i1Display Pro PLUS), I see exactly the same problem as on my LG Ultrafine display.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 31, 2021 May 31, 2021

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That's not good. No idea what's happening there. Other than I wish Apple would actually correctly apply the Rec.709 standards in their ColorSync utility ... which would help across the Macs. But as your situation is kinda counter to normal, don't know it would help you.

 

Neil

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New Here ,
Jun 16, 2021 Jun 16, 2021

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Can you please share the media and the export settings on my ID (swyadav@adobe.com)

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 01, 2021 Jun 01, 2021

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Hi Neil,

I'm on an ImacPro with P3 Display.  When I keep my display setting to the default IMAC profile with Display Color MGMT turned ON then and then use the QT gamma shift LUT - I'm generally happy with the look on web on most devices I test.

 

My question is really in regards to outputting for broadcast - Should I keep Display Color MGMT on but obviously NOT use the LUT?    Or Should I turn DCM off and change my display to REC 709 2.4 and color correct to that for broadcast? 

Or neither and just find a new line of work?  Was thinking of becoming a Lindt Chocholatier...  

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 01, 2021 Jun 01, 2021

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For broadcast ... that's a tough situation.

 

First, the monitor should be set to the Rec.709 option ... I do believe that is an option in the Macs. Though ColorSync sadly does not actually follow the full Rec.709 standards.

 

The DCM option should be turned on, and you should carefully check perhaps the three scopes of RGB Parade, Vectorscope YUV, and perhaps Waveform (I prefer the YC- no chroma option).

 

RGB Parade ... make sure you don't have any excursions below 0 ... maybe even below about 2 ... and nothing above 98-100, though an occasional specular to 103 or so shouldn't be too much of an issue.

 

Vectorscope ... make sure your neutrals seem neutral, and you don't have anything past the bounding box of the scope if not well within.

 

Waveform in YC no Croma mode just helps me see the tonal dispersion and limits best.

 

And if you're really going towards b-cast, it's wise to allow time to test the file with someone who's in a studio like maybe a local public broadcast station if they've got a QC machine to run it through. Or a colorist who can load it on their heavily calibrated/profiled system to check things.

 

Neil

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 02, 2021 Jun 02, 2021

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Thanks Neil,

 

Yes. I always use scopes when delivering for broadcast. I've noticed with my IMac Pro display set to REC 709 2.4 - toggling DCM on/off in premiere makes no difference. I assume that's a good thing.

 

 

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 02, 2021 Jun 02, 2021

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Hi, 

My advice is to keep Color Management on and just export for broadcast as is. What you see in your Premiere viewer is correct. Never use the QT compensation LUT for a broadcast nor web export as thats damaging your gamma irreversibly . I only use the QT compensation LUT for viewing/approval purposes just to make sure your client is seeing something as close as possible to what you see in Premiere.

 

Blackmagic understood what the problem was and decided to correct the issue. The latest version of Resolve can now export with correct TAGs for Gamma and Color. I ran my exports from Premiere through Resolve just to get them correctly tagged.

 

Hope this helps

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 02, 2021 Jun 02, 2021

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Thank you for the response. I had tried the Resolve trick middle of last year and wasn't happy with the results. Maybe the latest update has tweaked things. 

 

I've found the DCM + QT LUT in Premiere yeilds a web delivery that I'm pretty happy with.  When client's post my work to YouTube / Instagram the footage always seems to look  pretty darn close to how I see it in Premiere - certainly the closest i've seen since using P3 Display. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 02, 2021 Jun 02, 2021

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Careful there about the tags in Resolve. It's essentially using un-common use of NLC tags to get ColorSync on the Macs to behave correctly with Rec.709 media.

 

Rec.709 media should be tagged 1-1-1. And on a proper system, that will get displayed correctly. On the Macs, due to their odd choices in color mis-management, it doesn't.

 

The BM people found that applying the 1-2-1 tags gets ColorSync to use gamma 2.4, so they created the "Rec.709-A" export option. And yes, A is for Apple specifically.

 

However, that middle 2 tag is officially "unspecified", so sort of a wild card. And on many color managed systems, will cause the exact problem the Adobe "Quicktime Compensation LUT" causes ... the file will be over dark and contrasty, too saturated.

 

The end result of both the Adobe QT LUT and the BM "Rec.709-A" export options are pretty similar. And equally useless on properly calibrated gear. My colorist friends (mostly Mac based, all broadcast types) do not advise using either for very much.

 

And they're rather frustrated with the whole thing.

 

Neil

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 02, 2021 Jun 02, 2021

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Adobe QT LUT is a destructive option whereas Resolve tagging isn't.  Interesting to say 'the end result of these two options are pretty similar'. 

 

Exporting through Resolve 17.2 using the right project settings and the correct tags works well for me and it's still not 100% accurate. It's just the only compromise that worked for me 🙂

 

Marian

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 02, 2021 Jun 02, 2021

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Yea, the LUT ... as they note ... is a one-way trip and quite well described as "destructive".

 

The problem with the unique tagging in Resolve is that on many systems, the system, because of that tag, will display the media too dark/contrasty/saturated. So it is unusable on many full on broadcast systems.

 

I've had direct discussions with Lars Borg, chief Adobe Video color scientist specifically about this. Yea, they'd looked at the tagging thing, but he's uncomfortable with it. I think a fair summation would be it 'feels' like a complete solution, when in reality it isn't.

 

The colorists I work with have had lengthy discussions on this weekly. For YEARS. I'm a contributing author at MixingLight.com, a pro colorist's teaching website. My "beat" is color and color management in PrPro, and the founders there ride all CM issues pretty hard. Before my article on PrPro's CM was published a year/two back, I had hours with Lars and Francis Crossman, then a color engineer (now co-head of PrPro), then we had joint emails with two of the founders of MixingLight, Lars, and Francis and I involved ... 30 or more.

 

They had very specific detailed questions, as I would expect. Patrick Inhofer and Robbie Carman are also the team that DolbyLabs hired to produce the explanatory in-house tutorials on working pro color with DolbyVision HDR for broadcast/streaming. Yea, they know their stuff.

 

It's frustrating. It doesn't seem to make any sense that "we" don't simply have universal standards applied everywhere. Apple does their unique CM, but nearly every player, app, and screen does its own things to "enhance the viewer's perspective" that more normally screw things up.

 

Neil

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 10, 2021 Jun 10, 2021

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Is applying this output LUT still the only way of fixing this? It works fine but I work with a massive archive of exported final edits (some of which I have edited and exported with the compensation LUT, some older footage which hasn't). 

 

The problem for me is when I import these exported files (those with the LUT applied) to new projects they appear much darker in Premiere than the original footage and it's tricky to know when the 'Undo Gamma Compensation LUT' needs to be applied.

 

Has there been no progress in dealing with this issue since April 2019?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 10, 2021 Jun 10, 2021

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What are you trying to fix? To make it look 'correct' on a Mac, or to have it look correct period?

 

As those are two different things.

 

The Apple choice to apply an odd gamma ... 1.96 or 1.95 depending on who measures it ... rather than the correct normal  gamma 2.4, along with skipping the also-required display transform are the reasons for the problem's existence.

 

There isn't really a fix. The 'compensation LUT' helps make proper Rec.709 media look Rec.709 on a Mac. It's too dark/contrasty and over-saturated elsewhere. The Resolve "Rec.709-A" export option essentially accomplishes the same thing ... makes the media look proper Rec.709 on a Mac, but may well be too dark/contrasty and over-saturated elsewhere.

 

As long as Apple choose to mis-represent Rec.709, there will be a problem. But then ... no colorist ever has any control "out there" as to what people see on their screens. No one will ever see the media on their screen exactly like it shows on yours. Yea, that's a rip.

 

Neil

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Explorer ,
Aug 23, 2021 Aug 23, 2021

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Ok, folks. I am "working around" this issue for years and thought more than one time its solved - but its not! 

I apologise if my comment here gets lengthy but I think it is worth a read/try!

 

I work on an iMac Pro (Wide Gamut display) using the latest versions of PP & FCP with latest MacOS Catalina.

I work with footage from a SONY A7sIII (ProRes) 

 

- When i load footage into Premiere its OVERSATURATED. 

[Yes its OVERsaturated compared to: Quicktime, INA, Finder, FinalCut. – Only VLC shows colors close to Premiere]

 

- When i switch on the recommended "color-managment" in Premiere the footage gets less saturated, but it gets way TOO DARK in the shadows now.

[DARKER compared to the "original" / viewed in: Quicktime, INA, Finder, FinalCut and also VLC!]

 

- When i export the footage from Premiere it gets brighter again. It looks the SAME like before i imported it to Premiere

[and it looks the same again like viewed in: Finder, Quicktime, INA, FinalCut]

 

- When i upload the export from PP to YouTube, the overall image looks close to the "original" (Finder, Quicktime, INA, FinalCut)

[In Safari its a bit less punchy/satured in deep reds for eg. – In Firefox its a bit more contrasty & slightly darker in shadows]

 

The exports from Premiere & FinalCut look the same among each other, and behave the same when uploaded.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Clips that I load into Premiere look different after the import than "before". Switching on the "color-management" as recommended, makes the image DARKER, but it still looks neither like the export nor like the clip before aka the "original" (i know theres is no original, but compared to Finder, Quicktime, FinalCut, INA, VLC etc.). This means Premiere displays my clips differently than all the other software I use. This literally
means in my case: colour correction with Premiere is not a easy game - it is more of a guessing game.

 

THE WORKAROUND or BUG, call it whatever you want.

This is where it gets complicated and surprising! 

 

  1. Open Premiere and open the project (Premiere "color-managment" should be ON).
  2. Open MacOS Systempanel -> Display Settings
  3. Switch the color-profile of the iMac Retina screen to sRGB IE61966-2.1 (everything gets really oversaturated)
  4. Switch OFF the "color-management" in Premiere (image normalizing a bit)
  5. Now turn back the iMac Display Settings to "standard" iMac-Profile like before (wow!) 

 

Now the Timeline in Premiere looks exactly (or at least the closest) the same like, Finder, Quicktime, FinalCut, and the exported clip from Premiere.

 

WHY is this possible - and works way better than the built-in "color-management" function inside of Premiere?

 

Can anyone here reproduce and confirm this, please?!

 

 

PS: I know "the problem" sits between Apple using wide gamut displays with their P3-thing and Premiere allowing only Rec709. 

I dont want to blame Apple or Adobe, i just want to work with the hard and software i pay a lot of money for.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 23, 2021 Aug 23, 2021

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You illustrate exactly what happens when applying different color management controls.

 

The problem is actually very simple in origin.

 

There is a long-accepted professional standard called Rec.709 ... which requires both a scene-referred transform and a display transform. And is specified to work with displays running gamma 2.4 in semi-darkened rooms or 2.2 in 'bright' viewing environments.

 

Apple chose to do something different. The ColorSync utiliy:

  • applies only the scene-referred transform
  •  does not the also-required display-referred transform and
  • ColorSync applies a 1.95 gamma to Rec.709 media.

 

This is rather frustrating. And there's no easy fix nor way around it. Not even pro colorists can do it.

 

If different systems apply different color management decisions, we users are left in the lurch.

 

A Mac user can do exports from PrPro that are dark & over-satuarated but (like with the gamma-compensation LUT in the export process) within PrPro but look ok on a Mac in say QuickTime. That file will look correct on a Mac, incorrect everywhere else it's seen.

 

Or they can export a "proper" file from PrPro that will look a bit light in the shadows and low-saturated on a Mac, but ... look proper on any other system running proper color.

 

Yea, that's a right royal pain.

 

Neil

 

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Explorer ,
Aug 23, 2021 Aug 23, 2021

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Thanks for the reply - i know most of that.

And now please explain, why i can get to work properly with my "workaround" what you tell me is impossible 😉 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 23, 2021 Aug 23, 2021

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I would guess that it's triggering something in ColorSync perhaps. Remember, I'm another user, not any engineer.

 

However ... I would be rather surprised if that worked say when restarting the computer.

 

And it would be fascinating to see what the file looks like after export ... with a restarted Mac, and on a system like mine with full Rec.709 calibration.

 

Would we see the same thing?

 

And by the by, this drives my colorist acquaintances nuts. Most of whom are Mac users of course.

 

Neil

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Explorer ,
Aug 23, 2021 Aug 23, 2021

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Of course that does NOT work after restarting the computer. You have to do the "Workaround Trick" everytime yo restart Premiere. if i close premiere and restart, all colors are messed up. I know you are not an egineer and i would love to get some feedback from other iMacPro users.

 

On my iMac the export looks almost identical to what i see in my timeline and how the footage looked before the import "on my system" - in short: everything iam begging for since years now!

 

I can send you some snippets/links if interested

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 23, 2021 Aug 23, 2021

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I understand what you're doing, and pretty much what you're getting.

 

However, there isn't any fix available. As long as ColorSync applies different color management protocols than standard pro Rec.709, this problem will exist. Tricking it temporarily into doing something Apple isn't planning on it doing isn't evidence of a 'fix', just that you can trick it into ... misbehaving, perhaps?

 

Frustrating? Beyond belief.

 

Neil

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