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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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Guide ,
Jul 14, 2019 Jul 14, 2019

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DRHUG, you should just start a new post ( thread on forum ) about your particular camera thing... you own experience, cause this thread has been worn out with never ending permutations of color space stuff.

Your canon camera is fine and nice and it won't be that hard to fix what's going on with your source vs. what it looks like in PPRO.

The white girl has good flesh tones sorta, and the other guy is OK too I guess, but the guy who painted the picture on the wall in the background may have some mental problems.  You just have to adjust your levels and you'll be fine.

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Guide ,
Jul 14, 2019 Jul 14, 2019

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also, with auto white balance and no control over you light color temp ( make your own light ) you have a mix of 56k and 32k ( blue and warm , or blue and orange, or basically yellow and so on … ) .. so if you do your levels and then use hue v sat on that yellow stuff and bring it down a bit, you should be fine.

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LEGEND ,
Jul 14, 2019 Jul 14, 2019

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"Original" how are you determining that?

There only one way that can be determined, which you're aware of, and it doesn't allow for screen shots.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 14, 2019 Jul 14, 2019

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You know that, I know that ... I was asking the other user how he was determining "original".

No camera of course has a completely color/tonal correct screen. Not even Alexa or RED. Which is why one uses monitors with false color, zebras, the like on-set. To make sure you only clip what you know you're gonna clip.

Not even the cameras with the capability to record in RAW or log with a settable "viewing LUT" in-camera have "perfect" viewing screens.

Neil

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LEGEND ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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You know that, I know that

And it's important that we make other users aware of it as well by insisting they stop using their computer monitor as a 'reference'.  Don't you think?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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Ain't gonna happen, sadly.

But they can get a better viewing environment than they have. IF they go about it intentionally.

Neil

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jul 31, 2019 Jul 31, 2019

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This is a video by the Baselight team on what happens within the Mac OS regarding video color. And it includes the best and most detailed instructions I've seen ANYWHERE on how to go into the Mac ColorSync utility and set that so that all your apps display color properly on the Retina/P3-Display screens.

The first ten minutes explain both what happens and why, and how to change settings so it all works correctly.

https://www.filmlight.ltd.uk/training/resources/truelight/QuickTimeColour.php

Neil

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Guide ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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DRHUG, you should really consider ( if you ever come back ) posting a new message in the forum about your desire to solve problems like this.

You'll get the same nice people to help with advice, etc.

Most people using PPro don't have super duper color calibrated monitors and all that stuff, and use their computer monitors which are sRGB I guess. So, don't be alarmed. It's pretty normal for basic editing stuff ( like diving off a cliff with a camera on your head).

Everyone seeing your 2 comparison screenshots will realize that it's a matter of 'comparison' ( whether it is legal SMPTE standard or NOT ) it is what you are experiencing and you should be respected and thanked for posting those shots so people can understand your problem.

So, thanks for posting those shots.

I took the 2nd one ( the dark one ) , which as a screenshot is probably 8 bit sRGB, just to play with basic levels in an NLE to show you that you can in fact correct stuff so it looks nicer using your current monitor..

At this point we are not concerned with the final delivery to a fancy TV broadcaster or a big Producer of Hollywood movies, where color spaces are of paramount importance.   Right now we are dealing with what is coming out of your camera and what it looks like in PPro.. and within your sRGB color space, making it look closer to what you shot.

The blacks are clipped in your screenshot so I couldn't do much with that … in my NLE... but here's the screenshot of a quick correction on my LAPTOP WITH SRGB stupid monitor.

DARK SAMPLE CORRECTED.png

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Guide ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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That's from your DARK version screenshot.

I still think the person who painted that picture on back wall may have mental issues. It reminds me of " nude descending a staircase "

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Guide ,
Jul 15, 2019 Jul 15, 2019

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whoops.. a bit greenish on the walls... but you know how to fix it...

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New Here ,
Sep 12, 2019 Sep 12, 2019

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Help!When I going to add Lut in that "effects" tab and i clicked "select" at the Lumetri Look/LUT section, nothing happens(I mean i cant even select the lut because when i clicked "select" it just nothing happens). What am i doing wrong? Please help

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New Here ,
Sep 14, 2019 Sep 14, 2019

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This is a great way to summarize all of the feedback I've gathered across multiple forums and discussions for the past several days. I've been dealing with this problem for 3 weeks since I got the new MacBook Pro 2019 OS Mojave with Retina monitor. This issue persists with Premiere Pro CC 20018 and 2019 on this computer. Note, this issue does not exist on 2013 MacBook Pro OS Leopard with Premiere Pro 2018 or 2019 so it's something with the LCD monitor but this one comes Retina standard. Why are today's monitors calibrated differently than the 2013 ones?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 16, 2019 Sep 16, 2019

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The newer Mac products use a completely different color space, one ONLY used by Macs with the Retina monitors. No one else in the world looks at the same color space. The older ones used the nearly universally standard sRGB based Rec.709 standard for video.

 

What's actually worse ... not only do the newer Macs with the Display-P3 space Retina monitors have screens with vastly different color primaries than the video sRGB over 90% of video media is produced on, the Mac ColorSync utility doesn't apply standards to converting Rec.709 media onto a Retina screen. They use only the "scene-referred" or camera transform function to the media ... but not the display-referred transform that is the other half of the Rec.709 standard.

 

Color primaries are off due to the different color space and therefore improper mapping of media to pixels, and the gamma (brightness/darkness curve) is off due to the improper application of Rec.709 math to the file data.

 

Again, the older Mac screens were sRGB based. The newer ones and the OS are built around the new Mac ecosphere. Which doesn't integrate well with the rest of the world.

 

Neil

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New Here ,
Sep 18, 2019 Sep 18, 2019

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Overall this is a very helpful article, and I am most grateful to have the info. I am however, uncertain about the "stickyness" of selecting the Gamma Compensation LUT in the Export dialog, especially since the UI shows None even after the LUT is applied.

So if I follow the steps above to Export a version of my Sequence for the first time, I can see that the output looks different. If I then continue to edit the sequence in Premiere, do I have to re-select/apply the LUT in the Export Dialog each time I want to render the results of my editing, or does Premiere remember to use the LUT each time? 

 

Similarly, I don't how to interpret these statements at the end:

"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!"

 

I would have thought that applying the LUT in the Export step would only affect the file produced by the export. So to produce a version without the LUT's impact, I should be able to just Export again, without the LUT. But from the above it sounds like either the LUT has somehow been applied to my sources (before Export), or that there's no way turn off the application of the LUT during export, except by also applying the Undo LUT. In short, it would be great if someone could accurately describe how LUTs applied during Export work, and what to do in a real world editing session, in which one does lots of Exports. Thanks!

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Community Beginner ,
Oct 15, 2019 Oct 15, 2019

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This LUT saved my life for the past 5 months, However I noticed after the most recent update to Premiere it no longer works. It exports much darker and contrasty than previously, Did something change to the program in the most recent update? Is there an updated LUT? Has anyone else noticed this?

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Explorer ,
Nov 05, 2019 Nov 05, 2019

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Same thing happening to me. Does this LUT need updating? It's too contrast-heavy and dark. Perhaps what could help would be a % ammount of LUT to apply in the export settings. A strength slider for the LUT, of sorts, so we can tweak amount to apply.

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Community Beginner ,
Nov 05, 2019 Nov 05, 2019

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That's a great idea! I still would like to know why in Premiere 2019 this is happening. My exports looked the same as my program monitor in version 2017.

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Engaged ,
Oct 25, 2019 Oct 25, 2019

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Great post carolinesears!

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New Here ,
Nov 07, 2019 Nov 07, 2019

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Thanks guys!!!

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New Here ,
Nov 14, 2019 Nov 14, 2019

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I'm not in Premiere, rather in Avid, but my question pertains to how Quicktime might be contributing to a an issue I'm grappling with, thanks if anyone can help clarify. I bring Rec 709 footage in unchanged, without calibrating my monitor, Avid seems to remap the 16-235 footage to 0-255 within the program on this monitor. When I export, if I leave it unchanged on export, encoded same as source (DnxHD in .mov) it will appear washed out on this same monitor when I encode to h.264 and open in Quicktime OR uploaded to Vimeo and play on this same monitor or another computer/monitor, which I expect, as these RGB monitors expect RGB levels, 0-255. If instead I export enabling Expand Levels to Full Range and view the same h.264 encoded clips both ways, I see the Vimeo version looks spot on as expected on both monitors, same shadow and highlight detail, but in Quicktime my blacks are crushed, less sure about highlights, but seems loss of detail there too. This is not expected, any thoughts? Many thanks for your assistance!

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New Here ,
Jan 07, 2020 Jan 07, 2020

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Ok If you want to upload to Youtube or create a final clip.

 

But what if you are making videos for Adobe stock? In this case you are ruining information for a buyer who wants to edit clip after he downloaded it from Adobe stock? But if not exporting LUT, preview on Adobe stock will be washed out and maybe not atractive to buyer.

 

What to do in this case?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 07, 2020 Jan 07, 2020

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The post I think you were responding to ... had some issues because of the apps involved.

 

Avid correctly was sending a full range image to the monitor but working in limited range. The person's Qt player was not working correctly with the media involved.

 

As all colorists talk about, you cannot possibly control the odd and wrong ways things behave Out In The Wild. All you can do is work within specifications for the applicable standards ... in the vast majority of cases still Rec.709/100 nits brightness, with gamma 2.2 for web and 2.4 for most other work including broadcast. There's little enough difference between 2.2 and 2.4 most I know simply work in 2.4.

 

And most media format/codec specs are set for video (limited) range which is of course 16-235, and proper color management in players then displays such media as full range on the screen.

 

A few formats are full-range, but that is pretty much only the 12-bit 4:4:4:4 of things like DPX files. Everthing else should always be handled within video/limited range to comply with the only standards "we" still have.

 

Unless you've got a ton of money to setup properly for HDR, which ... well ... most consumer monitors and telly's simply don't handle all that well yet. Some telly's, but none of the monitors really.

 

Neil

 

 

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New Here ,
Feb 06, 2020 Feb 06, 2020

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The problem with this solution is, it will make you're videos look decent on an unmanaged color browser like Chrome, but for people using color managed browsers like Firefox, your grade will look crazy saturated. Using this LUT on export doesn't allow you too split the difference. So accurate on one browser, but insane in another.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 06, 2020 Feb 06, 2020

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This is the problem that faces all professional colorists. Out "in the wild" ... you have no control whatever over the viewing hardware and environment of the end users.

 

So ... what do you do? The only thing that results in a "stable" work ... across the most viewing environments.

 

Setup a system that has solid, proper, by-the-book color management and carefully calibrated and profiled monitors. In a proper professional viewing environment. And do your corrections to look appropriate on that system in that environment.

 

As, if you do, then your work will look relatively the same as other professionally produced work on any one viewing device/environment. Which is NOT to say ... the same as you see it when grading in that perfect gear/environment. You have no way on this planet to accomplish that miracle. (You can't fix Gramma's green TV ... )

 

I know (and work with) a number of colorists of fair note, who also teach other colorists. I'm also a contributing author at MixingLight.com, a subscription website for teaching colorists how to work in a variety of applications and media/workflow issues. This is something discussed among colorists all the time. As a large part of their typical workflow is counseling clients on how to view and evaluate color correction. Or ... more commonly, how not to view color corrections critically.

 

It ain't easy, and there ain't no "good" solution for all situations. PC users have tended to assume more that they have to take control as ... well ... who wanted Microsoft to control your color? They clearly didn't do a high-end job of it.

 

Apple users tended to assume that Apple would provide them the exact best color management out of the box, so they don't seem to think they should pay attention to color management. But Apple has made some decisions that go directly against being able to comply with pro video standards on "stock" Apple gear. And that's been a shock to a lot of dedicated Mac users.

 

Your frustration that there is no one solution that works for all situations, so that others see exactly what you saw ... what you want them to see ... is totally valid. But given that color management is neither consistently nor properly handled on almost any particular gear ... it's a frustration that isn't going away.

 

Neil

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New Here ,
Mar 17, 2020 Mar 17, 2020

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This is the exact opposite issue I am having. My raw footage viewed on VLC looks great. The second I import that footage into Premier Pro the contrast is insane and it ets crazy dark. I also seem to be loosing a ton of quality. The first screen shot I attached is my raw footage. The 2nd image is the same footage. All I have done is import it into PrPro. The 3rd image is the same footage exported from premier pro. Screen Shot 2020-03-17 at 4.24.12 PM.pngScreen Shot 2020-03-17 at 4.24.22 PM.pngScreen Shot 2020-03-17 at 4.25.34 PM.png

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