I'M SO LOST ON COLOR MANAGEMENT IN PREMIERE

New Here ,
Dec 07, 2020

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Here's work flow issue: 

 

If I export a video in log (with color management turned off, and no QuickTime compensation LUT, also attaching an image here of this occuring), when I open the video in QuickTime the color is altered, and does not match what I see in Premiere. Let's say I then send it to a colorist, he/she grades it, sends it back,  I drop it back in Premiere to add graphics back or supers or something, when I export that again my guess is the color is going to get altered again, and won't match the work the colorist now did. 

 

So what is the right way to work this? Is it to always use the QuickTime compensation LUT that's floating around on the internet? 

 

 

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I'M SO LOST ON COLOR MANAGEMENT IN PREMIERE

New Here ,
Dec 07, 2020

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Here's work flow issue: 

 

If I export a video in log (with color management turned off, and no QuickTime compensation LUT, also attaching an image here of this occuring), when I open the video in QuickTime the color is altered, and does not match what I see in Premiere. Let's say I then send it to a colorist, he/she grades it, sends it back,  I drop it back in Premiere to add graphics back or supers or something, when I export that again my guess is the color is going to get altered again, and won't match the work the colorist now did. 

 

So what is the right way to work this? Is it to always use the QuickTime compensation LUT that's floating around on the internet? 

 

 

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Editing, Error or problem, Export

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 07, 2020

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screenshot.jpg

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 07, 2020

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You need to get a lot more edumacated about color management if you're working with a real pro colorist who is using a fully calibrated and profiled pro reference monitor system.

 

Premiere is hard-coded to be used on a system like a colorist would use ... full-on broadcast standards scrupulously tested on the gear. Color space of sRGB, white point D65, Rec.709 profile using both the camera and the display transform function, gamma 2.4, white point brightness of 100 nits in a semi-darkened room.

 

A colorist typically has more expensive calibration kit/software than most editors have systems. And their Grade 1 Reference monitor (not at all a computer monitor) is fed a signal from a break-out box to get a clean signal without interference from the OS of the computer or the graphics card. Most often BlackMagic or AJA gear for that.

 

On such a system, Premiere is near flawless in color management issues.

 

Outside such a system, things get dicey but not because of Premiere. It's because nearly everything on a normal computer system is intentionally screwing with the pixels to either "enhance the viewing experience", "enhance the gaming experience" ... or even worse, both.

 

To begin on the Macs ... the "newer" Macs with Retina screens use a version of Apple's ColorSync utility that intentionally applies only the camera transform function of the Rec.709 video standard but not the also required display transform function. So when they then apply what they call "Rec.709 gamma" ( though technically there isn't such a thing) it's essentially roughly equivalent sort of to a gamma around 1.95 or 1.96, depending on who's reading the curve.

 

This, when applied to standard Rec.709 media, lifts the black point and shadow values and seems visually to lessen saturation there. You don't realize this on media you didn't create, because ... you've only seen that media on your system. And probably assume what you see is what was intended. (It wasn't.)

 

Adobe came up with the preference option for "Display Color Management" which tells Premiere to look for the monitor's ICC profile, and remap the image on Premiere's internal monitor panels to come as close to a proper Rec.709 image as possible simply using the ICC profile of the monitor. It does a decent job. Within Premiere.

 

But it cannot change the way ColorSync works, so outside of Premiere on that Mac, the tonal values of black through mids are lifted significantly and saturation seems lessened when viewed through most applications and browsers.

 

The export LUT they offered "fixes" this by over-darkening the mid to black values, so that when viewed on a Mac outside of Premiere, it looks like it did in Premiere.

 

There's a rather major problem here: when that file is then played on any system with a proper Rec.709 view, the blacks will be crushed and the shadows over-dark. Just like they warned it would in the initial offer of that LUT for Mac users.

 

I might note here: Mac Retina screens are about 10-13% in the US, and perhaps half that in much of the rest of the world. Pick your poison.

 

To handle this, Apple did setup ColorSync to see another potential NLC tag (the things in the files that tell the viewing system what the file is) that on seeing that tag, ColorSync will apply the display transform function to the file. So Resolve added the ability to 'tag' exports with the Rec.709A option. And yes, "A" stands directly for Apple.

 

But ... as tested out by numerous colorists ... tag that file Rec.709A at export, and yea, on Mac/Retinas it's gonna look pretty good in QuickTime player, Chrome & Safari Browsers, and maybe even YouTube & Vimeo.

 

On any non-Mac though, it's going to be ... dark. Pretty much like you'd applied the Adobe offered Mac LUT to the file.

 

How about PCs?

 

That's murky to begin with. And is all over the freaking map. So ... you need to setup your graphics card for practical video use which means any settings should be for Rec.709 and limited or video range, 16-235 ... never full/data/0-255. The screen will then show both the very little bit of video media that is full range and all Rec.709 media correctly, both displayed at 0-255. As the limited/full thing is not how the screen displays it, but how it should interpret the data.

 

Monitors when possible should be set to Rec.709, and if at all possible, calibrated with an external puck/software combo, preferably the i1 Display Pro. If you are doing any professional delivery, you'd just better calibrate that screen with at least the i1 Display Pro.

 

As NO monitor I've ever heard of when reviewed by competent specialists in color ever comes out of the box ready to go with proper Rec.709 standards ... unless it's a full-on Grade 1 Reference Monitor. And yes, that is a specific standard. Such things as the Flanders and Eizo and very high-end Sony monitors. (And no, the new Apple XDR is not nearly a Grade 1 reference monitor.)

 

So ... you get the i1 Display Pro, and manually set the profile to ensure the following: White point of D65, gamma 2.4, white brightness of 100 nits, color space sRGB, profile Rec.709. And then when checking color, dim the room down quite a bit.

 

As unless you do so, you are never going to see anywhere close to what your colorist sees.

 

As far as exporting from Premiere, after you get something back from the colorist, DO NOT change any color or add that durn LUT on export either! Premiere is not messing with the color. Everything else is on your system, unless you set it up intentionally to work properly.

 

Is this all a right nasty mess? Oh, heck yes. Should it be? Oh ... no.

 

But it's all you can do. No colorist can ever expect that anyone out there will ever see exactly what they saw on their system while grading. But if you go by the exact standards, every screen out there will show your media ... relatively ... like it shows all other professionally produced media.

 

That's the only thing we content produces can do. We have no control of our pixels out In the Wild.

 

Neil

 

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New Here ,
Dec 07, 2020

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Thank you for putting all of that together! It's exactly why I'm confused. 

 

I'm embedding an image below as another example. The bottom image is the file straight from the colorist viewed in QuickTime, the middle image is what happens when I take that file from the colorist drop it in Premiere, re-export it, and view it in Quicktime, and then the top one is when I view that file from the colorist in Premiere (sorry they're out of logical order). Why do you think there is a gamma bump in the QuickTime coming out of Premiere?

 

Here's another question: I have a client who asked me to extract MXF files from a DCP, and turn them into a single consolidted h264 file. When I export the file, the color of the MXFs in Premiere and the h264 in QuickTime is vastly different. The client wants to see them matched, so I use the Compensation LUT, and it works. If I load the matched file into a VOD platform, and someone winds up watching that matched file on their TV, will the color look terrible? 

 

ColorTest.PNG

 

 

 

 

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New Here ,
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<a href="https://ibb.co/GcRtFsb"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/m64XSvM/COLOR-TEST.png" alt="COLOR-TEST" border="0"></a>

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 07, 2020

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First, this forum software is screwy ... so don't embed, simply drag/drop images onto the text reply area so everyone sees them without having to download strange files. I'll fix that in your post.

 

Second ... what is the format/codec you're getting back from the colorist out of Resolve? And how did they export the file, as straight Rec.709, or as Rec.709A? If they're giving you the Rec.709A export option out of Resolve, I think that would do at least something similar to this. I would not have them use the Rec709A tag on export especially if I was going to do more work in Resolve.

 

On my system, anything I export out of Resolve comes 'into' view in Premiere virtually identical.

 

Neil

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 07, 2020

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Now the second issue ... the client wants to see the images matched where? On what, in what viewer/app? To what?

 

This is a huge pain point for colorists. Some even keep a stack of specially setup iPads as if you know how to set them up and modify the screen, a couple of the variuos iPads can be set to show things pretty correctly. So while working with a client, they ship one of the prepped iPads to them, and the contract even specifies color/tonality decisions will be based on viewing from that iPad and no other device or screen.

 

 

Neil

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New Here ,
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Thank you for all of this!

Based on what you wrote in your first response, it's probably better that I don't do a QuickTime compensate on the MXFs from the DCP and hope whatever viewing platfrom the final audience is using interprets the color data correctly. (The MXFs are derived from a Live-to-Cinema broadcast similar to the Met Opera in HD that are streamed to cinemas around the wrold. I'm figuring the brodcasters who captured the footage probaly encoded it with a broadcast-ready color space).

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Adobe Community Professional ,
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Almost everything streamed on networks is Rec.709, straight down the line. Except for the relatively small amount of HDR that is put out there. So no, don't modify to make the material look better in QuickTime player on a Mac screen.

 

That gets back to what I said about things looking "relatively" like other pro material. It's all Rec.709 unless it's HDR, then typically DolbyVision or perhaps what is it, HD10? Which has only a small share of broadcast workflows.

 

Many colorists are Mac people of course, and many of their clients are. But Mac gear isn't setup to handle Rec.709 directly, cleanly and fully. So figuring out how to get their clients to view on properly setup screens is a royal pain. It's one of the reasons that client attended sessions were pretty much the norm for a lot of major projects either "long-form" (movies) or "episodic" ... TV shows.

 

The colorist carefully sets up the room and the monitors for the clients to see a correct view of the images involved. And that's where all final decisions are made. With the colorist using a Flanders or Eizo monitor for their reference image, and having a larger screen that is also fed by a break-out box or system, and through a LUT box so the image displayed is as close as possible by color profile, color volumetric data, and tonal profiles to the colorist's reference monitor.

 

A typical Flanders or Eizo or Sony reference monitor starts around $5,000 for SDR, up to 4k screens. HDR reference monitors have the cheapest at about $17,000, but most in use are between $20,000 and $35,000. That's just for the monitor, note.

 

Now ... with all the remote work, it's been a nightmare to find both over-the-net services and devices and apps that can combine for low latency, high bandwidth, and controlled color. As ... that really doesn't actually exist. You have to create it, which is dang hard.

 

Neil

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