"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 ,
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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New Here ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Hi,

 

For the past few months, I have had an issue with my final masters. They look totally different from what I'm correcting on my LG 5k (Set up as rec. 709). This happened, like everybody else, when I updated my macOS and PP. I have read forum, watch videos and tried LUT but nothing is working. I have been trying to calibrate my monitor with other profile, but the colors are still OFF. This is crazy! I know that it is an Apple issue and the way they handle color management! For me, if in 2022 you are buying a mac, you will not be able to color correct your footage on Premiere (or Davinci)! This is mind-boggling. I really don't want to go back to Final Cut Pro, but I will need to. I just tried it and the export colors are the same as the PP preview. Adobe needs to come up with a solution asap. Open to read any new tricks to get my master footage to look the same as when I edit. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Neither Adobe nor BlackMagic can ever provide a "fix" for Rec.709 on a Mac. They cannot control the ColorSync utility on your or any other Mac, and THAT is where the problem comes!

 

When your OS applies a different transform and gamma than the standard used everywhere else, there's nothing whatever than can change that. And that is what is happening.

 

FCP of course works within the ColorSync utility. And you say it 'fixes' things. But have you taken that file you've exported from your FCP into a properly setup, calibrated/profiled Rec.709 setup and looked at the image there to compare?

 

And are you aware that no file produced under 'normal' Rec.709 for any professional application, whether movie, broadcast or streaming show, is shown on your screens the way the colorist saw it? I doubt you've noted this bit.

 

Neil

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New Here ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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Hi,  Agree with everything you are saying, but for "normal/non-professional" content creators it is super frustrated to edit on a Mac and get a different result when you upload the footage to YouTube. 

It is just very complex for a casual user to understand what is going on and why our footage looks darker or flatter on YT. I don't make videos for TVs.  I also have a pretty good 5K LG monitor and wanted to use this as the calibrated monitor, but it didn't worked well...

Anyway, I think that for the moment I will need to switch, even if I don't want to. 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jan 18, 2022 Jan 18, 2022

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You're right, it's a mess. But not one that either Adobe or BlackMagic or even Avid can solve. It's Apple's mess. Well, the main gamma/transform bit. But there's still a variablity in screens you may not fully appreciate.

 

But in a few years, if most things shift to HDR, maybe we won't have to deal with it anymore. We'll have other color space/gamut mismatches to deal with!   lol

 

I'm amazed how many editors actually think, that what they see on their screen, is perzactly what anyone else will see on any other screen. I've never experienced that nor seen any data supporting it. I've been so aware that going from one screen to another is always a different image.

 

I can heavily calibrate all three of my screens.

 

A BenQ PD2720U UHD screen that I also run ColourSpaceZRO on after the calibration, to get a profile ... a series of charts showing exactly what that screen is doing. I can get that down to within the deltaE variance levels needed for decent work. (Not that this screen is nearly as even across the image like a Flanders would be!)

 

I also have a Dell Ultrasharp 23" 1920x1080, and an LG Ultrawide 2560x1080.

 

I can calibrate all three with the same puck & software. Tweak, readjust, calibrate, readjust all day long. The three cannot be perfectly matched coming from the same GPU.

 

The pro colorists I know have more in calibration gear between a Klein spectro or two and other kit than you and I have invested in our total computer getup. And they often run even their UI monitors through a breakout box that applies calibration LUTs to the image, or have monitors that can 'hold' a LUT internally. And they still have to tweak their screens to get well ... pretty close, mostly.

 

Now ... export the file. Put in on some laptop, out in  the cafeteria. The image, between the different device & screen and the brighter viewing environment will be completely different than it was on the colorist's reference monitor. Perceived overall brightness, shadow detail, saturation, highlights ...

 

Look at it on an iPhone on a park bench in sun, or dark room at night. Two totally different views of contrast and overall brightness, neither approaching the "original" image on the colorist's screen.

 

James Cameron has driven colorist's nuts with worrying about how his Art will look in the three main theater projection setups, and after when it's out on BluRay. One colorist I know of rented a large room in LA. And put in all three full theatre projection setups, projector/screens with black curtains for behind screen and to sides, along with four or five large-screen TVs, each fed with a different BluRay player. You could stand in the middle of the room and turn around and see the image of pretty close to the same moment on different screens.

 

They agreed to meet Cameron there at  X time, and started the film running. And the folks from the post house doing the color work just sat there while Cameron went around comparing screens.

 

After a while, Cameron came back and said that gee, they aren't really the same, but ... he guessed they're all actually usable, and ... um ... "we" can't really do any more, can we? So that's probably good.

 

They billed him for it, of course.

 

And there's also Gramma's green (or pink) TV. It is what it is,  and your material will be green (or pink) depending on how far off Gramma's TV is. And she'll never know the difference as ... relatively ... it looks "good". Which is always, for any viewere, defined as "what other pro produced media looks like on this screen".

 

Neil

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Adobe Employee ,
Jan 20, 2022 Jan 20, 2022

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Hi Community,

User guide documentation on the topic: https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/using/color-management.html


Please provide any feedback, bugs, or feature requests on this topic to the Premiere Pro team here:

 

 

Thanks,

Kevin

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