When I export the colors on the file don't match that of the timeline

Contributor ,
Oct 11, 2021 Oct 11, 2021

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I have a color matching problem. I have graded c300 mk3 MXF footage on my timeline and exported it as ProRes422. I have not changed any of the export specs.

 

This is what the timeline looks like:

timeline.png

 

When I open the MOV in quicktime player, this is how the colors look. It is slightly desatured and doesn't match the timeline:
exported.png

 

Then I take the file and bring it into Adobe Encoder and choose the vimeo 1080 preset which pops out an mp4 for me. I upload that mp4 to dropbox and vimeo and the colors still look bad. I'm not just seeing this issue with this one client and this one file/footage/camera type. This issue is occuring with another client's footage as well. I asked some friends about it and they think its an issue with Mac because they said when they export something from their timelines on a PC, the colors in their export don't deviate from the timeline.

 

If my export doesn't match my timeline, which colors are the client seeing? Are they seeing the colors that I see on my timeline when they watch the vimeo link? Or are they seeing the desaturated colors that I'm seeing on my mp4? More importantly, how do I fix this?

 

Specs:

  • I'm on macOS Big Sur 11.6 
  • If I click on "about premiere pro" it says Version 15.4.1 (Build 6) , Adobe Premiere Pro v15.0   (and my finder level doc says Adobe Premiere Pro 2021)
TOPICS
Editing , Error or problem , Export

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correct answers 2 Correct answers

Contributor , Oct 19, 2021 Oct 19, 2021

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Contributor , Mar 22, 2022 Mar 22, 2022
I'm finding some degree of success when I choose "MXF OP1A" export preset as opposed to apple pro res or h264 or anything else

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Adobe Employee ,
Oct 16, 2021 Oct 16, 2021

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Hi rachinc1,

 

Usually, this might happen if the video players & apps are using different display standards while showing the preview. Please refer to this article to know more about it. Hope it helps.

 

Thanks,

Sumeet

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 16, 2021 Oct 16, 2021

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Most video is by the standards long set, in the Rec.709 color standard. Premiere Pro is built to be bog-standard Rec.709.

 

However the Mac ColorSync color management utility is not. And that is the problem here.

 

ColorSync does not apply the second part of the two required transforms, the display transform, and it applies an odd 1.96 gamma instead of the expected 2.4/2.2.Between the two issues, the shadows are lighter and there is an appearance of less saturation.

 

And sadly, there ain't no real fix so a file looks the same whether displayed on a Rec.709 compliant system or a Mac/ColorSync system. It's something my colorist friends (mostly Mac folk of course) are always yelling about. As their systems are totally Rec.709 compliant to the gnat's eyebrow to meet pro grading specs.

 

And note, all pro grading for broadcast/streaming is Rec.709 except for the relatively small amount of HDR media out there. So all pro produced media you watch on your Mac were Rec.709 files.

 

I'll bet you haven't noticed or thought them bad, by the bye.

 

And to a certain extent, the only thing anyone can do is grade to the standard and let it go out into the wild. No one will ever see exactly what you saw anyway, as every screen and viewing environment is different. Grading to the standard means you're media will relatively be like other pro produced media on any system.

 

And that's the best that you can hope for. It's all a pro colorist can do.

 

Neil

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Contributor ,
Oct 19, 2021 Oct 19, 2021

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If your Premiere Pro export color looks different from the way it looked in the Premiere preview, I've been there before...You just wrapped up your video pro...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 19, 2021 Oct 19, 2021

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The great joy of using the 'conversion' LUT that Adobe provides & is used here is that you just change who sees the problem. Well, and what problem they see.

 

Because the underlying problem isn't solvable until either Apple changes their Rec.709 settings in ColorSync or the rest of the world changes the Rec.709 standards. I don't see either happening anytime ... ever, sadly.

 

Applying this LUT does the same thing that using the "Rec.709-A" export option does in Resolve. Though they do it differently.

 

This LUT modifies the image to make it darker in the shadows and a bit more saturated. So when ColorSync does it's thang ... the odd 1.96 gamma and no display tranform function applied ... it ends up looking mostly like you saw it in PrPro.

 

If you're watching it on a Mac in Chrome, Safari, or QuickTime player.

 

But if you're on a PC or on a system with a fully calibrated monitor for broadcast-standard Rec.709, it will be a bit dark especially in the shadows and over-saturated.

 

The Resolve Rec.709-A export option tags the file with the NLC tags of 1-2-1, rather than the 1-1-1 of 'normal' Rec.709. The '2 in the middle is officially "unstated" in the Rec.709 standards. But BlackMagic realized that if a file had that 2 in the middle, QuickTime would for some unknown reason apply the 2.4 gamma and display transform.

 

So the file 'looks' correct on a Mac in the same situations as noted above.

 

But on most other systems, it ... gee ... looks too dark and oversaturated.

 

At which point I go back to the fact that all pro material is graded for Rec.709 broadcast standards. All the stuff you're watching on your Mac has the 1-1-1 file tagging. Did you think it's all washed out and desaturated?

 

No ... because you didn't know you were watching it with lightened shadows and less saturation.

 

You don't have a comparison to the 'real' image, do you? And neither does anyone who ever sees your stuff.

 

Neil

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New Here ,
Mar 15, 2022 Mar 15, 2022

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rachinc1 clearly stated that they were looking at their timeline and exported video side-by-side using the same monitor and machine. That means we are dealing with a Premiere exporting issue. (See attachment, I have my exported video and timeline on my display at the same time.) Although your Rec.709-A information is interesting, it is not useful in helping rachinc1 (nor me) in solving our unsaturated exports issue. It's silly that Adobe expect us to use LUTs (that aren't 100% precise in doing what they promise) to fix an issue that shouldn't even exist, but it's better than reading a lengthy, unhelpful reply. Please respect other people's time, and not reply unless you have an actual way to help. Thank you to tachinc1 for being diligent and posting the solution that helped them. That LUT is better than nothing.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Mar 15, 2022 Mar 15, 2022

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Your image illustrates the issue beautifully. Apple uses non-standard settings to display Rec.709/SDR video files. Premiere Pro doesn't. That is where the difference comes.

 

Because the settings used to display a video file are different, the image displayed is different.

 

Apple chose to set the ColorSync color management utility to use a different gamma than is "standard". And another sorta minor thing, but that's the major one you notice. So any video file viewed on a Mac via the QuickTime Player, and the Safari and Chrome browsers will use ColorSync's settings ... and display a Rec.709/SDR video file differently than if the full standard was applied.

 

Which is to say lighter and with less apparent saturation.

 

But VLC and Firefox will typically ignore ColorSync, and because of that, show the image pretty much as Premiere does. On the same computer.

 

I work daily with pro colorists, who are mostly Mac based, and they have to deal with this. And of course, they can't "fix" it either as it's a difference in how the computer displays the same file data.

 

Colorist's of course don't 'grade' an image by a computer monitor via the GPU .... they use breakout devices from BlackMagic or AJA to get the signal out without either the OS or GPU touching it. But their UI monitors will show the issue.

 

It isn't that "Adobe" is doing something odd with the image, it's the Mac itself that's doing something odd to the file.

 

And the reason I mentioned the Rec.709-A thing is to demonstrate that this isn't just "Adobe". BlackMagic's Resolve, the most-used grading tool out there, can't do this either. They give a modified file header rather than a LUT, but both have the same effect.

 

A better image 'inside' a ColorSync managed player, a worse image outside. In other words, 'better' on most Macs but worse on everything else.

 

Yea, that's totally frustrating.

 

Neil

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Contributor ,
Mar 22, 2022 Mar 22, 2022

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I'm finding some degree of success when I choose "MXF OP1A" export preset as opposed to apple pro res or h264 or anything else

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