Premiere Pro CC color / gamma shift on export - is a Premiere not Quicktime problem

Explorer ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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I know this is a topic of major frustration for many of us - washed out colors and a very visible gamma shift when exporting out of Premiere Pro. From what I have seen on this forum, people post all kinds of solutions / explanations as to what could cause this problem. Many people think it' a Quicktime problem, some say it has to do with video card drives, or with checking "render as linear color space" or not.

I just did a round of major testing on my iMac running OS 10.12.5 and the latest version of Premiere Pro CC 2017 - and I have to say - nothing I do fixes it or makes any difference. Whatever I export - and that's the key here - Quicktime movies, TIFF sequences, stills - EVERYTHING has a washed-out gamma shift and desaturated colors.

When I take a screenshot of my media within Premiere Pro - colors and gamma of the resulting PNG are exactly as I see them in Premiere. If go through the EXPORT function and export a still image - the colors are faded and the gamma is washed out. And it doesn't matter what is clicked in the export window - maximum depth, linear color space... nothing makes a difference.

Here is another interesting thing I found - when I reimport these washed-out exports (stills or quicktime movies, doesn't matter), inside the Premiere Pro world they look perfectly normal. When I import the same washed-out exports into Final Cut Pro X, the washed out colors and gamma stay. So there must be something in these exports (hidden tags?) that Premiere adds and that it then uses to display the media correctly. Unfortunately every other app in my Mac universe doesn't do the same and is off dramatically.

The problem is - I can't just stay inside Premiere Pro. I have to send tmy cuts out and share them with clients. I need them to see what I see inside Premiere Pro.

Does anyone on the Adobe side have any insight into this? This issue has been going on for years on this forum. I cannot believe that we are still nowhere close to a solution.

Thanks in advance for any hint.

Markus

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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Your problem is quite clear.

You assume your iMac and the display and subsystems are showing "correct" dynamic range and color. This is NOT an accurate assumption. You can't get "there" with a totally uncalibrated amateur system.

Thousands of people working daily in professional suites with properly calibrated systems and high end calibrated broadcast monitors have no trouble with this.

Their hardware and practices are the key.

Those who can't find a way around this  .... don't.

And saying that QuickTime (with the rather obvious DR/gamma it induces differently from any professional player) is accurate is also in error.

You need to learn more about professional standards and color practices. Not to say that PrPro is perfect ... just that it isn't the biggest problem you face.

Neil

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Explorer ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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Neil,

I am using a 5K Retina iMac for my very high-end professional editing work, as do many of my other highly priced colleagues in town (Los Angeles). My work shows up on the big screen as well as on all networks and the internet. So naturally, my iMac's display is fully and professionally color calibrated and it's anything but an "amateur" system.  As Apple said this week - "professionals love our iMacs:...

What I  and many others are experiencing has nothing to do with calibration. If the same thing looks drastically different inside Premiere and outside of it - I could be viewing this on a 100 dollar cheap monitor and it's still the same problem we're dealing with.

So please don't lecture me about professional standards. That's not helpful at all.

And you dismissing Quicktime as not professional is also very ill informed. I have been working with all the top post and finishing houses here in L.A. for 18 years, and all we've been ever used to transfer high-end footage is PreRes Quicktime Movies.

Markus

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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I made a number of assumptions based on some of the comments in your original post compared with a predominant group of comments that we've had here from other with iMacs and QuickTime. Clearly, they were not accurate in your case, and I owe you a very direct and full apology.

QuickTime player as opposed to the QuickTime codec in ProRes are very different things. QuickTime player as distributed for PC's is a rather flawed player.  ProRes is of course a very good pro editing/intermediary codec, even if Apple as always is a rather jealous kindergartener about "their" stuff. So understand that when many of us outside the Macosphere talk QuickTime we mean the player.

Where we do get down to is the iMac itself ... I have heard (as of yesterday) there is a possible issue specifically with certain iMac models with certain GPU's. A couple people I know running several systems have gotten odd results with that model.

Maybe I can find more about that and pass on which models may be having an issue ... or perhaps Kevin Monahan would know?

Neil

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Explorer ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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Hi Neil,

I really appreciate your most recent comments. And I thank you in advance for trying to help me with this.

If the iMac’s GPU is the problem, that would be impossible to solve (other than getting a different machine). I do know that a lot of my colleagues in various companies around town use iMacs as their “professional editing systems” - especially with Premiere Pro.

Here’s what I did experiment with: I switched my project to all 3 rendering engines that are available to me - OpenGL, Metal and Software only - and I exported a master quicktime with each engine. It was the same gamma shift result outside of Premiere. Wouldn’t “Software Only” take the iMac’s GPU out of the equation?

I am aware of the Quicktime Player as being not up to professional standards. But I am seeing the exact same behavior with TIFF exports. Now that has nothing to do with Quicktime.

Something in the Premiere Export/Render engine that doesn’t play nicely with my setup. - I do not have any of these problems with After Effects exports - also as ProRes Quicktime Movies.

Markus

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Explorer ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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So here's the latest development:

I just tested bars and tone in a sequence and output that as a ProRes quicktime.

No color or gamma shift.

So it has to do with the material I am using. I know that material was exported from a Final Cut Pro 7 system as a ProRes file and given to me. Maybe that's where the problem lies...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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Now that's another puzzler!

I wonder ... if you transcoded a clip via Media Encoder, would the clip of media play nicely?

Neil

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Explorer ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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I’ll try that when I have a second. It’s worth a shot. I am a recent Premiere Pro convert - so my question is - does Premiere play nicely with clips being replaced? In other words, what’s the best workflow for transcoding material without losing any of my work?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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I've not done a lot of replacement, but I know of course that for say the round-trip Event out to Resolve & back, it's been very commonly done. As I recall the key is to keep the names the same ... so if say you simply transcoded with exact names to a different folder, and while PrPro is closed, removed the old files and replaced with the new ones I think that would work.

As always, I'd test with a few clips first ... but I've done this with some phone media that I first converted to CFR with Media Encoder, then after testing that media versus setting up a custom conversion in HandBrake, decided to use HandBrake conversions instead.

And also with some other media over the years. Normally it's worked simply.

Neil

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Explorer ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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Thank you, I’ll give this a shot.

Markus

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Jun 09, 2017 Jun 09, 2017

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Best wishes! We all have work that needs getting out ...

Neil

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Explorer ,
Aug 14, 2017 Aug 14, 2017

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Hi All,

Did anyone find a solution to this desaturation problem? I find it unbelievable that this issue even exists! how can something that has been graded and exported look completely different when viewed on different players..?

Surely the solution isn't cranking up the grade so it looks correct in Vimeo/QT (VLC seems to display colours as they are in premiere).... What happens when I supply a client with the finished export file, without knowing where it's going to be played back? 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 14, 2017 Aug 14, 2017

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how can something that has been graded and exported look completely different when viewed on different players..?

Because the players don't use the same internal settings for dynamic range & gamma ... that's been explained many, many times.

Surely the solution isn't cranking up the grade so it looks correct in Vimeo/QT (VLC seems to display colours as they are in premiere).

No ... the only problems come in with say QuickTime on some computers and YouTube for some people uploading/viewing.

So I never use QuickTime player for anything anyway. Potplayer & VLC do a better job. And ... my uploads to YouTube have been without issue, as they are for many. Which is one of the things making the whole YouTube uploads so frustrating. For some users, uploads to YouTube are displayed in a 16-235 dynamic range plus altered-gamma that would go with that ancient "standard". Which ... sucks.

What happens when I supply a client with the finished export file, without knowing where it's going to be played back?

A colorist wrote an article about this problem. They use many-thousand-dollar monitors run from external boxes with LUTs controlling the entire image to grade. Most of the ones I know own a couple grand or more in calibration gear, which they only use for maintenance checks on their monitors, as they have their setups professionally calibrated at least annually if not semi-annually.

It's natural ... that auto-QC device at the network "sniffs" through their projects as they come in, and find one pixel out of saturation or dynamic range, the whole program's rejected. They have to do this.

However, as soon as it's broadcast or sent out via satellite, there's no control of how any user will "see" that program/project. His personal example ... his grandmother lives in Wisconsin or someplace. He was visiting her and saw a program or commercial he'd graded show up on her TV, and it was ... green. As was everything on her tv, it was all off way green.

So all that work on QC is needed ... but there's no way whatever to control the user's actual view, either from broadcast/satellite work or web-casts. No two TVs or monitors will ever look exactly the same, let alone across systems the vast majority of which have never been calibrated at all.

And remember, TVs, monitors, and video players are all shipped, designed to muck with the signal in order to "enhance the viewer's experience".

There's a quote from Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings ... I think it's in one of the movies ... "That way lies madness!" It's a pretty fair statement about trying to control the end-user experience in any video work.

Neil

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Guide ,
Aug 14, 2017 Aug 14, 2017

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Premiere actually does grade you-get-what-you-see in sRGB if your monitor is also calibrated sRGB. premiere will ignore any other color profiles. quicktime is not sRGB(0-255 gamma 2.2). quicktime(depending on the version), RGB values are 16-235 with various gamma styles like 1.8 or 2.4.

Furthermore, if you colorgrade in Premiere and your monitor is not sRGB(instead P3 or adobe RGB), you will get incorrect grades because you are grading in the wrong native color profile. VLC can match premiere perfectly if you set its video output to OpenGL. Also, nvidia control panel needs to be set to 0-255 so that your gfx card doesn't change your RGB values in media playback.

Adobe Media encoder can render video range(16-235) or full range(0-255) as well. Resolve has FCP legacy feature.

Also,

external displays are still limited by adobe's mercury transmit protocol that is hard coded to rec. 709 so you'll need to match that too.

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Explorer ,
Aug 31, 2017 Aug 31, 2017

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Chris and R Neil, thanks so much for the responses..

First and foremost, Neil, I'm in total agreeance that one the export leaves your hands, you're at the peril of outside factors effecting your work.. but I had an "AHA!" moment when I checked a video file on QT & VLC on my Mac Book Pro this time...rather than my iMac... and the colour difference was SO MUCH less apparent.

Taking Chris' info, I started to question if it was the MBP display profile, in comparison to my iMac. Come to think of it I never noticed the colour difference  on my 2014 iMac (that was stolen. now have a 2017 5k machine). Although with my graphics card (Radeon Pro 580 8192 MB) I have no option of changing gamma settings...I started to toggle between monitor profiles and noticed that on "Apple RGB", "Rec. ITU-R BT.709-5" and "sRGB IEC61966-2.1" that the terrible colour/contrast difference between the same video in QT & VLC side by side almost disappears. 

Chris, is this what you was making reference too? Using either one of these compared to the "iMac" profile in my opinion is a great improvement by eye..but is there one i should be using over the other?

Many thanks

Hakan

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 31, 2017 Aug 31, 2017

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For video use, take the " ... BT709 ..." option.

Neil

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Aug 31, 2017 Aug 31, 2017

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hakanahmet85@googlemail.c  wrote

I started to toggle between monitor profiles and noticed that on "Apple RGB", "Rec. ITU-R BT.709-5" and "sRGB IEC61966-2.1" that the terrible colour/contrast difference between the same video in QT & VLC side by side almost disappears.

In theory the display profile should always be set to whatever is closest to the actual gamut of the display, ideally a profile generated for that specific display. If you choose another display profile, test your video output carefully to make sure the problem is really solved, because this isn't supposed to be an ideal solution. And it won't be as good as previewing on a calibrated external video monitor.

The following note is more for those who might read this thread in the future: Don't bother with the "Apple RGB" profile. It's a legacy profile that's only included for compatibility with old images. It represents the gamut of the 13" Apple monitor — a Sony Trinitron CRT — that was sort of a de facto standard in the 1990s and probably influenced the creation of sRGB. But Apple RGB doesn't represent anything we're using today.

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Explorer ,
Sep 05, 2017 Sep 05, 2017

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ok, so scrap "Apple RGB"... got it.

"Rec. ITU-R BT.709-5" looks to really crush the blacks and makes it a little too contrasty I found Neil.

would "sRGB IEC61966-2.1" be a safe one to go for? it looks good by eye and the same footage across different players looks allot more balanced, how it did on my previous iMac. Chris, was this what you mentioned above?

Conrad C, "Generic RGB Profile" also looks pretty good...this an option? 

Thanks in advanced guys... I appreciate that it may not simply be what looks good by eye, for example Conrad C saying that "Apple RGB" is an out dated profile. But I feel that this may be the only work around to this annoying problem on my computer at least.

Hakan

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 05, 2017 Sep 05, 2017

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hakanahmet85@googlemail.c  wrote

Conrad C, "Generic RGB Profile" also looks pretty good...this an option?

According to a page on the Apple Developer website, Generic RGB is based on “P22 phosphors, D65 white point and 1.8 gamma.” P22 phosphors were used in CRTs.

The Apple ColorSync Utility (included with every Mac) shows that Generic RGB is mostly similar to Rec. 709, sRGB, and Apple RGB, so if one of those profiles doesn't work, choosing another from that family probably won't change matters much. You're right, it's just a workaround. Ultimately we need Premiere Pro to support alternate working RGB spaces.

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Explorer ,
Sep 11, 2017 Sep 11, 2017

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Conrad,

Well it looks like I'm now back to square one..

When I set the profile to sRGB IEC61966-2.1 although it looked to balance out the same video between VLC/QT player side by side... my screen looked over saturated and crushed for the rest of the time when browsing the net for example (something my brother picked up on straight away..). So in actual fact the native iMac profile does give the best image day by day on this 5k iMac.

Like most, I feel that the issue has beat me.. I still can't work out if it's software related or the calibration of the screen.

I guess my last question is, which do I trust for my grade? Do i grade it to look good in Premiere and then leave my fate to the gods after export!? OR do I over compensate my grade to work with the issue? It's just so frustrating that the problem isn't apparent on my Mac Book Pro...which leads me to believe its related to the 5k iMac screen.

Cheers

Hax

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 11, 2017 Sep 11, 2017

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hakanahmet85@googlemail.c  wrote

I guess my last question is, which do I trust for my grade? Do i grade it to look good in Premiere and then leave my fate to the gods after export!? OR do I over compensate my grade to work with the issue?

I think the "ideal" answer is the same industry-standard answer Neil suggested earlier: Connect a Rec.709 calibrated broadcast monitor to the Mac and grade on that.

That can be an expensive option, so the next best and much cheaper way to go would probably be to get a common but high quality sRGB-based monitor, connect it to the iMac, and calibrate that (to sRGB).

Either way you would have a display that is actually producing sRGB/Rec.709, so in theory that would provide a grading environment consistent with Premiere Pro is currently set up for.

hakanahmet85@googlemail.c  wrote

It's just so frustrating that the problem isn't apparent on my Mac Book Pro...

What year MacBook Pro is it? If it's a newer MacBook Pro with the P3 gamut display, I would expect it to have the same problem as the iMac. But if it's an older MacBook Pro with the sRGB-based display, then I would expect it to look more consistent inside and outside Premiere Pro.

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Explorer ,
Sep 12, 2017 Sep 12, 2017

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"That can be an expensive option, so the next best and much cheaper way to go would probably be to get a common but high quality sRGB-based monitor, connect it to the iMac, and calibrate that (to sRGB)."

Ok... but once I grade footage that's being displayed on an external sRGB monitor... won't it just look desaturated again once I play this on the iMac screen on say QT player..? (wouldn't this also be the case when anyone else plays the footage with the same hardware set up at their own workstations?)

The thing is, even if i open something up directly off my SD card, it will look desaturated on QT compared to VLC...that footage hasn't even come close to premier!

It's like my screen has two different calibration settings!!...what is the root of the cause? do I just take my iMac back or sack off premier!? sorry for the frustration, it's driving me nuts and a little out my technical comfort zone. Had my previous iMac never been stolen, i wouldn't be facing this issue with this replacement (newer) machine. And yes, the MPB that doesn't seem to show the problem is a 2012 model. 

Thank again for the help.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Sep 12, 2017 Sep 12, 2017

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Think it back a little further, please.

You watch material on that screen from YouTube, Vimeo, and other web services, right?

Nearly everything you watch that has been professionally produced was shot & graded on sRGB/BT(Rec).709.

Period.

How's it look?

Neil

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New Here ,
Oct 19, 2017 Oct 19, 2017

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Did this work for you because I have tried that and it seems to me even after I upload the color still looks washed out on other devices say phone or another computer when uploaded. It changes how I see the colors on my computer but I don't think it changes how its encoded. Let me know if you found a fix for this! I just got a iMac and have not been able to upload anything because of this problem. It's just pointless spending so much time grading and it doesn't even make a dent after export.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 19, 2017 Oct 19, 2017

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What's your monitor, the color space, and calibration profile?

Some of the new Macs use other color spaces, and PrPro unfortunately is only built around Rec709 standards which are sRGB  ... Which needs more options.

Neil

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