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Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)

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Greg Sage
Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 23, 2018 at 5:10:59 am

I know it's not ideal, but for other reasons, I need a single 65" monitor. I do, however, make music videos mainly using After Effects, and use tons of effects, so I would like to do the best I can to optimize my viewing accuracy, working colorspace, etc for the best possible outcome.

Computer:
Mac 3.1 (2018) running last possible OS (10.11.6)
980 Ti card which has 3 display port outputs, and one HDMI 2.0 output.

TV:
TCL 65S405
3 HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, one with HDMI ARC, 1 USB 2.0

Rtings.com (which gave this budget set the highest ever marks for post calibration accuracy despite it's limited gamut) said it could do 4k 60 hz 4:4:4 in PC mode.

I don't see how, though, since folks are telling me that's beyond the HDMI 2.0 bandwidth. Regardless, since my critical work will be in AE, I'd like to hear from the experts what's my optimal workflow here?

And, on a more basic level, I just hooked it up for the first time with new card and new tv, and the mac is only giving me 24 or 30hz options in system prefs, and no over/underscan. Image is showing at 4k, but shrunk several inches or more from each edge. Running HDMI out from card to TV as that's the only option I see other than running out of DP and converting to HDMI.

Do I need to get switchresx or similar just to get a properly sized 4k image?

But, to bring it back on point, for use in AE with lots of effects, what's my optimum working color space, bit depth, etc given the hardware limitations?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 23, 2018 at 9:56:42 am

[Greg Sage] "Rtings.com (which gave this budget set the highest ever marks for post calibration accuracy despite it's limited gamut) said it could do 4k 60 hz 4:4:4 in PC mode. I don't see how, though, since folks are telling me that's beyond the HDMI 2.0 bandwidth."

HDMI 2.0 can do UHD at 60fps with a depth of 24 bits per pixel:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI#Version_2.0


[Greg Sage] "But, to bring it back on point, for use in AE with lots of effects, what's my optimum working color space, bit depth, etc given the hardware limitations?"

Your working space and bit depth should be driven by your final output requirements, not by your monitor.

If you only have one output color space, use that as your working space. (For most users, this is Rec. 709.) If you have multiple output color spaces, use the largest one as your working space. If you're using Ae's color management system and want to see accurate color on your monitor, make sure you've profiled your monitor and that you're using the right ICC profile for the monitor at the OS level, and make sure that View > Use Display Color Management is checked.

Choose 32bpc if you need the internal high dynamic range it offers: the ability to process a stack of layers or effects without clipping white or black until output to a lower depth. Choose 16bpc if you need more precision than 8bpc offers, but do not need "the floating-point effect." Choose 8bpc if you need speed.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Greg Sage
Re: Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 23, 2018 at 3:34:02 pm

OK, thx. I vaguely remembered being told a while back that I needed to increase something in my "working color space" to avoid certain issues when colors combine or have effects added. I guess it was just the bit depth.

In practical terms: Even just in the defaults, there are several options for rec709, and is increasing the bit depth to 16 bits merely an internal affair inside AE, or does seeing it accurately as I'm working necessitate different card settings, increase HDMI bandwidth, and / or affect other items. The TV, for instance, is listed as being capable 10 bit color. Is that an issue?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 24, 2018 at 10:19:14 am

[Greg Sage] "OK, thx. I vaguely remembered being told a while back that I needed to increase something in my "working color space" to avoid certain issues when colors combine or have effects added. I guess it was just the bit depth."

If you're working at 32bpc and you are going from a very wide gamut on your source footage to a smaller one in your working space, or if you are working with normal footage but making extreme adjustments between effects, things can get weird as normal colors will be pushed above 1 or below 0, instead of clipping to normal ranges. In this case, you could work in the wider source space and manage to the destination space on output.

Normally, though, you can work in the same space as you deliver.


[Greg Sage] "In practical terms: Even just in the defaults, there are several options for rec709, and is increasing the bit depth to 16 bits merely an internal affair inside AE, or does seeing it accurately as I'm working necessitate different card settings, increase HDMI bandwidth, and / or affect other items. The TV, for instance, is listed as being capable 10 bit color. Is that an issue?"

Working at 16bpc in Ae can be really important, even if you're ultimately outputting to an 8bpc display or output file. You will suffer less banding (in Ae, stepping down from 16bpc to 8bpc uses dithering), and the extra precision gives you less quantization (rounding errors on the pixel values) when stacking multiple effects together.

Just remember, if you're viewing 10-bit, you may see significantly smoother gradients than your 8-bit viewers will!

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Greg Sage
Re: Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 24, 2018 at 2:03:32 pm

OK, then I basically need to boil that down into practical steps to get up and running. Unfortunately, I've wasted great time and effort over the years by not quite nailing down each of the following steps, but I have an opportunity now with the new setup to finally get it right (to the extent the hardware allows)

As I see it, I have to define settings for:

1) AE workspace:
I'm guessing this should be rec709 and 16 bit, right? I do have a practical question here: Since I'm used to working in rec709 8 bit, with the 16bit color just double ram or scratch disk use or something like that, or will it effectively double everything like render time per frame? Also, is there a specific VERSION of rec709 that I should be aware of as I go down the chain (I notice I have several versions for video card options.) Also, if the video card is set to output lower color bit, is there something I need to do here to let AE know that the 16bit rate is only INTERNAL, and not to be shown?

2) AE render:
I've been told before that I should output at full workspace quality, then compress with Media Encoder, so I'm assuming that's still the case. Assuming 1080P, and whatever is worked out for working color space above, what would those other details be to set the output render?

3) Media Encoder output:
I'd assume that's just whatever YT's upload requirements are.... though I do remember doing some experiments and getting higher quality by submitting higher quality than they requested, 2 pass encryption, etc. Any insights here for optimum YT playback definitely welcomed.

4) Checking the render:
It's been a while, but if I remember correctly, the YT version ends up being sRGB, right? I think the way I was handling this was always causing the YT version to have much more contrast than my working version, and it essentially ruined every video. I also remember something about QT player ignoring gamma settings, and not being accurate reflection of YT playback whereas VNC was closer to YT playback. Whatever the right answer is here, I need to make sure my YT render looks like the workspace version as much as possible without the rec709 -> sRGB contrast shift, and that I'm viewing it in a player that accurately reflects the YT viewer experience.

5) Video card settings:
Again, I see multiple versions of rec709, gamma 2.2 or 2.4 outputs. I'm in a room with plenty of indirect sunlight, but it's not what I'd call "bright". It's all indirect sunlight, though. No man-made lights skewing the white balance. TV says it can do 10 bits, but if that might cause issues, I'd rather see what the audience does whenever possible, so I'm assuming I want rec709 4:4:4 8 bit here, right? Again, different rec709 and related options available.

6) TV calibration. I've done a few calibrations before, and I have a colormunki, but it's been a while. I've read that the tv has an "11 points white balance control", gamma setting, and so on, so I should be able to dial it in with the colormunki. The set is known for being remarkably accurate within the standard gamut with the exceptions of very dark colors, and brightness inconsistencies from the edge lighting. Is there something I should be aware of here regarding target white balance, gamma, or anything else (again, in a room with indirect sunlight), or just follow the colormunki wizard?


Really appreciate the help, and hoping I can finally get this stuff straight after working for years in less than ideal circumstances. I understand this is still not a professional setup, but if I can get each of the points above worked out, I should be much better off than I have been.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 25, 2018 at 10:50:25 am

[Greg Sage] "1) AE workspace:
I'm guessing this should be rec709 and 16 bit, right? I do have a practical question here: Since I'm used to working in rec709 8 bit, with the 16bit color just double ram or scratch disk use or something like that, or will it effectively double everything like render time per frame? Also, is there a specific VERSION of rec709 that I should be aware of as I go down the chain (I notice I have several versions for video card options.) Also, if the video card is set to output lower color bit, is there something I need to do here to let AE know that the 16bit rate is only INTERNAL, and not to be shown?"


Yes, it sounds like Rec. 709 and 16bpc are good defaults for you.

Yes, RAM and disk cache storage requirements will double. Render time will increase a little as a result, but not at all by 2x.

What profiles do you see for Rec. 709 to choose from?

No, you don't need to tell Ae that 16bpc is for internal use only. As soon as Ae tries to pass the image to something at a lower bit depth, like your monitor, a video card, or an output module, it will automatically step the output down.


[Greg Sage] "2) AE render:
I've been told before that I should output at full workspace quality, then compress with Media Encoder, so I'm assuming that's still the case. Assuming 1080P, and whatever is worked out for working color space above, what would those other details be to set the output render?"


I do like to render intermediates from Ae, to have a full-quality master to make as many encodes as necessary from. Make sure your output module reflects the format, depth, and color space you want. For example, if you're working at 16bpc and rendering to ProRes 422, you will want to set the output module to Trillions of Colors. If you're using your desired output space as your working space, you don't need to change anything for output color management. If you're outputting to a different space than you're working in, set the space in the output module's color management tab.


[Greg Sage] "3) Media Encoder output:
I'd assume that's just whatever YT's upload requirements are.... though I do remember doing some experiments and getting higher quality by submitting higher quality than they requested, 2 pass encryption, etc. Any insights here for optimum YT playback definitely welcomed."


YouTube is going to recompress whatever you upload to them. You can apparently upload intermediates directly, if you want:
http://www.liftgammagain.com/forum/index.php?threads/using-a-mezzanine-code...

Otherwise, AME has some good H.264 presets.


[Greg Sage] "4) Checking the render:
It's been a while, but if I remember correctly, the YT version ends up being sRGB, right? I think the way I was handling this was always causing the YT version to have much more contrast than my working version, and it essentially ruined every video. I also remember something about QT player ignoring gamma settings, and not being accurate reflection of YT playback whereas VNC was closer to YT playback. Whatever the right answer is here, I need to make sure my YT render looks like the workspace version as much as possible without the rec709 -> sRGB contrast shift, and that I'm viewing it in a player that accurately reflects the YT viewer experience."


HD video should be Rec. 709. YouTube won't break that, and sRGB is very close to Rec. 709 anyway.

The bigger problem is that different browsers may handle color management differently, people have un-profiled monitors, etc. Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee color-accurate playback once something leaves your hands. The best you can do is stick to the standards and hope other people do, too.


[Greg Sage] "5) Video card settings:
Again, I see multiple versions of rec709, gamma 2.2 or 2.4 outputs. I'm in a room with plenty of indirect sunlight, but it's not what I'd call "bright". It's all indirect sunlight, though. No man-made lights skewing the white balance. TV says it can do 10 bits, but if that might cause issues, I'd rather see what the audience does whenever possible, so I'm assuming I want rec709 4:4:4 8 bit here, right? Again, different rec709 and related options available."


Rec. 709 has no official gamma specified, and viewing conditions greatly affect our perception of the image. In a brighter room, you can use 2.2. In a darker room, use 2.4.


[Greg Sage] "6) TV calibration. I've done a few calibrations before, and I have a colormunki, but it's been a while. I've read that the tv has an "11 points white balance control", gamma setting, and so on, so I should be able to dial it in with the colormunki. The set is known for being remarkably accurate within the standard gamut with the exceptions of very dark colors, and brightness inconsistencies from the edge lighting. Is there something I should be aware of here regarding target white balance, gamma, or anything else (again, in a room with indirect sunlight), or just follow the colormunki wizard?"

Rec. 709's white point is D65.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Greg Sage
Re: Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 25, 2018 at 6:31:52 pm

Looking into some of the other items you mentioned.

In the meantime, there are lots of color profiles listed (and cut/paste doesn't work within that box), but the color options I see that mention 709 are:

HD 709-A
Rec.709 Gamma 2.4
Rec.709 PQ

Which bring up one other slight point of confusion. I've got decent control over the tv's calibration including specific gamma settings in 0.2 increments, but not clear if that should be matched to the card's output?

In other words, I'm in a room that receives plenty of indirect sunlight (and no artificial light), so I'm assuming that should be accounted for in the calibration of the TV, but is it the TV's setting ONLY that should reflect that, or also the output of the card to match?


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Greg Sage
Re: Optimizing image accuracy for AE use between Mac, 980ti, and new 4k tv (working colorspace, bit depth, etc)
on May 25, 2018 at 9:12:08 pm

After messing with colormunki and other items, I see that colormunki's generated profile is added to the profiles in System Prefs, so it replaces those in the list. Seems like the control I have there is in the beginning of the process what I'm calibrating for. Choices are:

ITU-Rec. BT709 (Video)
NTSC (Video)
PAL SECAM (Video)

I wasn't quite sure between the first two, but being in the US, I chose NTSC. Is that the right choice?

From there, it does everything for me except brightness and contrast, then spits out a profile.

On the positive side, it has an ambient light sensor (which can vary quite a bit in this room) that can measure every few minutes and adjust, so I'm assuming that addresses the gamma issue (although I could take a light and dark profile separately and switch manually if that would be better.

On the negative side, it just bypassed all the other settings on the tv which makes me wonder if they were optimized first.

For instance, the tv itself has a gamma setting, 11 point white balance, and quite a few other controls that were not addressed. Should I be doing some process to dial these items in first to get me closer, and THEN using colormunki to do all of it's overrides in it's custom profile?



Also, other folks have suggested that I view in 4:4:4 while doing visually critical work, and I've read that this tv can handle the input, but I don't see anythin gin either the existing color profiles, colormunki setup, or anywhere that indicates the ability to do this. Where and how would that be enabled? (Or should it be... since viewers won't see it that way?)


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