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Colors shift when uploading to youtube, how to fix?

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Jeremy McCloud
Colors shift when uploading to youtube, how to fix?
on Sep 26, 2014 at 7:07:24 pm

I have this problem with every single AE project I've done so far and cannot figure out how to fix it. The video looks like it should inside after effects and even the rendered file when I play it on my computer, but when I upload the video to YouTube, the colors seem to shift and is most noticeable in the reds. It's very frustrating because I'm giving certain color values I have to go by and they are not matching when it's uploaded to youtube. Instead of looking red like it should, it looks more like a dark pink?

If it helps, this is the color it should be: ec2028
Taking a sample from the youtube video, this is the color I'm getting: b51531

I've tried different settings for saving to mp4 and followed youtube's guidelines and others I've found online, but nothing works.

Here are the settings I'm using to render the video from Adobe Media Encoder:

H.264 MP4
Frame Rate: 23.976
Square Pixels (1.0)
Profile: High
Level 4.1
Render Maximum Depth is Checked
BitRate Encoding: VBR 2 pass
Target and Maximum Bitrate: 8Mbps
Key Frame Distance: 1
Use Maximum Render Quality is Checked

Any ideas of what could be causing the problem and how to fix?


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Daniel Waldron
Re: Colors shift when uploading to youtube, how to fix?
on Sep 26, 2014 at 8:21:10 pm
Last Edited By Daniel Waldron on Sep 26, 2014 at 8:21:51 pm

YouTube and most other video hosts do their own compression to the video after you upload it. If your export looks good and you're following YouTube's specifications, I would say it is out of your control. You could try compensating for the shift ahead of time by adjusting your red and seeing if the upload is closer to what you want, but it's just a guessing game at that point and I can't see it being worth it.

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Chris Wright
Re: Colors shift when uploading to youtube, how to fix?
on Sep 26, 2014 at 11:25:42 pm

you didn't say what program you were exporting out of. What I would do is...
1. take the final master clip and import into AE
2. disable interpretation color management in project settings
3. apply utility color profile converter , set output to sRGB 1966

now the color should be the same online because the sRGB is standard across the board.

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Jeremy McCloud
Re: Colors shift when uploading to youtube, how to fix?
on Sep 30, 2014 at 5:25:22 pm

Thanks for the replies! I've finished the video and the client has uploaded to their website, I suppose running from their server and the colors still do not match, so maybe it's not just a YouTube problem.

The client hasn't said anything, but I want to be sure I have it fixed and know what the problem is for next time.

The video is here: and the red used in the text in the video, should be exactly the same as the red from the logo. I sampled the colors directly from their logo ai file when I imported it into after effects.

I thought maybe it was my browser or computer, so I've tried different browsers and 3 different computers (2 windows and 1 chrome), they seem to shift colors a little, but they all do not match the color of the logo (though the colors from the chrome book looked a little closer).

@Chris Wright - I used sRGB 1966 as the Working Space and Output when I created it, I don't know if that makes a difference, but I'll try adding the "Color Profile Converter" and see if that works.

I've also tried outputting as Rec 709(I think it was), that said it's what YouTube changes the video to, but it didn't seem to make a difference either. I've also tried exporting directly from AE and also Adobe Media Encoder, in both MP4 and MOV H.264. If anyone else have any suggestions, I'll give it try.


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Georgios Tryfonas
Re: Colors shift when uploading to youtube, how to fix?
on Oct 7, 2015 at 9:32:53 pm

Hello Jeremy, I am running into exactly the same problem just from Premiere Pro. Did you actually manage to fix this? I would so appreciate something close to a solution.

Others have claimed this has something to do with Youtube encoding but it doesn't really as I had 100% accuracy on all projects till I upgraded to Windows 10 and Premiere CC 2015 a couple of weeks ago. I have even re-rendered older projects that worked fine a couple of weeks ago but this time I do get the color shift. I don't get the color shift when uploading the previous renders though. I am thinking about a codec problem but I have tried exporting on other codecs. Video plays the same as Premiere locally. This is so weird - probably resolvable with a re-install but I'm trying to avoid that.

Any clues appreciated.

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Ben Rich
Re: Colors shift when uploading to youtube, how to fix?
on Feb 28, 2018 at 11:41:14 pm

I have been fighting this issue for years now. Still no proper fix yet but I have found a trick to help mitigate the issue a little:

Since the color shift is likely due to YouTube's compression algorithm throwing away color data, as most compressions do, I took to de-saturating areas that were not vital color zones. Primarily it was desaturating the shadows and/or the highlights. This way YouTube's process doesn't have to throw away as much color data overall since there is less to throw away in the shadows. This is all speculation on my part but it seems to help some. And I will often oversaturate the mid-tones slightly in anticipation of losing some color.

Ben Rich
Videographer | Technologist

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