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Jacob Tirey
Preview window is dark
on May 25, 2011 at 9:08:49 pm

I am having a strange issue with the preview window. All videos appear darker than they actually are.

I've linked a screen shot, it really demonstrates the problem well:

The dark video is the preview window of my timeline, the one in the foreground is my "Log and Transfer" window. The video appears fine in quicktime, finder, log and transfer, and even when you export it. It only looks bad in the finder. I would think it is some sort of setting in Final cut as opposed to a computer setting or video card or cable issue.

More info: I'm running newest 2011 mac book pro, HDMI out to LG monitor running 1080p. Footage was shot with Cannon T2i converted to Pro Res 422 LT

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Jacob Tirey
Re: Preview window is dark
on May 25, 2011 at 9:38:30 pm

I tested it a bit. It has something to do with the video connection. If I use DVI instead of HDMI, the problem goes away.

Anyone have any idea why this is? Its strange that it only affects the preview windows. I suspect it has something to do with the Final Cut Pro gamma correction setting.

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Brendan Maghran
Re: Preview window is dark
on May 26, 2011 at 12:52:44 am

Do the new macbook pros have an HDMI port? Or are you using an adaptor?

"Where that light source is coming from?"
"The same place as the music."

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Jacob Tirey
Re: Preview window is dark
on May 26, 2011 at 12:58:51 am

They use the mini display port. I have an adapter for HDMI, and then another one for DVI

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Neil Waller
Re: Preview window is dark
on Jun 4, 2011 at 10:08:09 pm

We are having the same issue on a Mac pro using DVI to monitor.

Have been three weeks on the issue.

Have bought a new drive and clean installed it with 10.6.6 and FCP updated to 7.0.3 and as late as last night was still giving same symptom.

Obviously we are not alone in this.

Please someone, can you give us the fix.

Our symptoms are exactly the same. It is not project related because the symptoms are the same even on old projects. The really bizare thing is that if you grab the end of w clip on the timeline and roll the end back or forward the luminance value is correct in the canvas window... But never in the viewer window.

Having stripped the machine completely and reloaded all os and only FCP it is obviously not a bad file etc.

I have a cloned in on Monday at 9.30 am and is has to be fixed by then or I am going to look pretty bad... So much so that I will be walking away from FCP.

I posted this issue on another forum On the 25th of may with no real answers so hope you guys are able to help.

Details are:

Despite the fact that footage looks fine on playback on the camera, we are having issues with our Final Cut Pro suite exhibeted as the footage in the bin, viewer canvas and timeline has very low luminance and this is over assetts from two camera of sources.

1. Sony Z7p recording HDV1080i – Progressive scan (25p):
a. From tape – Log and Capture.
b. From card – Log and transfer.
2. AVI files from Point Of View Camera.
a. DV Mov files. They play fine in Quicktime but are very dark in Final Cut Pro.

Events leading to the issue were:

1. We installed the Sony Recoding Unit plugin for Final Cut Pro 7. (Sony memory recorder unit plugin as supplied with HVR-MRC1).
2. Keyboard was accessed by kids over the weekend and a key may have been pressed that causes this to happen however we can’t seem to reverse it ???

The really interesting thing is that when you grab the end of a clip on the timeline and drag it back it corrects itself in the canvas?????

I don't have any cards in place... and this is definately an issue because I have used FCP fro some time and even old projects that where fine, if I open then now are dark. Attached please see a screen grab and note the luminance of the frame that is in QT player as opposed to the same shot in FCP.

See attached image.

Not happy Apple.

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Neil Waller
Re: Preview window is dark
on Jun 11, 2011 at 12:27:36 am

Thanks - That is better than what I did. Bought an adapter and used a VGA cable and the problem went away. Obvioulsy automatic updates has screwed something. Anyway thanks for that. I'll try it soon.

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Steven Waltham
Re: Preview window is dark
on Sep 6, 2011 at 10:00:01 pm

I Just had this exact problem first time i tried FCP7 on my brand new Feb'11 Macbook pro which is using min dvi to HDMI adaptor to a Benq 24" 1080p monitor. And seemed to have found a work around, in my instance anyway.

It seems if you start final cut with the monitor attached it will always be dark. I found that if you start final cut and then connect the monitor the viewers are normal. This seems to work no matter what your monitor set up is, ie your using 2 displays, mirroring or external display with mac in clamshell.

Hope that helps someone


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ian harding
Re: Preview window is dark
on Jan 18, 2012 at 10:18:54 am

Hi there..

Has anyone found an answer to this problem of the preview window playing darker than the clips actually are?

FCP never used to do this, I cant figure out what is causing it, Im on a MBPro, ive tried the monitor fix mentioned above but that doesnt work for me..



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igor martinovic
Re: Preview window is dark
on Jan 23, 2012 at 4:19:04 am

Hi there,

I am experiencing the same problem as discussed earlier (preview window dark. it gets brighter when scrolling through footage but once you stop scrolling it becomes darker again) and can't find a solution for it.

Anyone has an idea how to fix it.

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Peter Sydvin
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Feb 29, 2012 at 3:15:01 am

Hi Everyone~! Not sure if this has been completely solved but I wanted to share what I found - This was in the FCP 7 User Manual (Top of page 1465, Chapter 85 "Rendering and Video Processing Settings")

It reads as follows:

Choosing Real-Time Playback Gamma Correction Options
Whenever you watch your video on a computer display (such as video displayed in the Canvas, the Viewer, or via Digital Cinema Desktop Preview), Final Cut Pro applies gamma correction to the video to more closely approximate the way it would appear on a video monitor.

If your computer’s graphics card supports gamma correction, Final Cut Pro automatically uses the card for accurate gamma correction. If your computer has an older graphics card that does not support gamma correction, you have two gamma correction options in the Playback Control tab of the System Settings window.

Accurate: High-quality gamma correction. This option is the most accurate but also requires the most processing power.

Approximate: Lower-quality gamma correction. This option leaves more processing power available for real-time effects but results in less accurate color and brightness rendition.

Tip: If your real-time performance is limited, try changing the gamma correction setting to Approximate (if available).

To choose a gamma correction option in the current sequence
1 Open a sequence in the Timeline.
2 Choose Final Cut Pro > System Settings, then click the Playback Control tab.
3 Choose Accurate or Approximate from the Gamma Correction pop-up menu.

I switched the setting to "Approximate" and that solved the problem for me~! Hope this helps!

Here's a link to the manual from apple:


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joshua sandler
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Mar 5, 2012 at 11:50:29 pm

hey I am dealing wit the same issue but not for an external monitor. Problem happened suddenly a few days ago on my brand new iMac 27inch and the gamma in canvas and viewer is really out of whack and dark. Honestly I can't imagine editing like this. The only thing that i can come up with is that it is connected to some bug in a software update. changing the Gamma correction to approximate does make it look better, but honestly it is really disconcerting that there is not a more legit solution for an obvious bug in the program. I am a longtime FCP user and I have never been so frustrated and disappointed with Apple. I have been researching for days looking for information about this problem and have found almost nothing. I was even on the phone with a FCP expert at apple who claimed to have not heard about this problem at all. I was just about to reinstall FCP which is a huge pain in the ass before i read this post and realized about changing the gamma settings, but i consider this a temporary solution and really hope Apple offers a more legitimate fix for this very troubling problem, or i am going to finally learn how to use avid.

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Guillermo Parraguez
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:22:39 pm

I changed the gamma correction to "Approximate" and solved the problem to me.

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joshua sandler
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:35:05 pm

It fixed the problem for me too but just while the cursor is moving. when the cursor is still the image goes back to being dark.

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Holt Adams
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Sep 28, 2012 at 11:36:16 pm

I too have experienced this dark preview issue when using my 27"" Cinema Display.......but think my problem didn't occur until I installed Red Giant's Magic Bullet Suite 11. When using FCP, I didn't have the problem until I added the Video Effect Colorista II. Immediately the preview screen goes dark (about 1 to 2 exposures). I reset the Playback control as suggested and it worked ..but not if added the Colorista filter to another clip....I experienced the dark preview issue.

Disconnecting the 27" display...before starting FCP.....appears to work inconsistently too for me. hmmm

For issue is definitely related to using the Colorista II Filter/Effect. I just got this software plugin and my problem started. I did not have the problem with the Colorista II Trial version...but once I activated my license problems started.

I'm still investigating my problem.....I'll post more as I figure things out.

Thanks, Holt

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Holt Adams
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Oct 1, 2012 at 3:43:53 pm

Found a workaround for my problem........I did some more research and for me....its a monitor calibration issue......or to be more precise...its an Apple FinalCut Monitor profile issue. Not saying its a perfect work around...but at least its more information. Below is a link that has a lengthy discussion about it. Bottom line for me is....if I use an Apple profile that is the default for my Apple Mackbook Pro LCD laptop and my Apple 27" Cinema display....the dark preview issue goes away. hmmmm

When my problem started a few days ago I had both installed Red Giant's Magic Bullet Suite 11 and calibrated my monitors using X-rite's i1Profiler. Previous profiles from X-rite's i1Display2 software worked...but since moving to MAC Mountain Lion...I had to installed i1Profiler. The new calibration profiles from i1Profiler.....appear to set my monitor such that the Dark Preview occurs.


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Dan Hrkman
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Dec 29, 2012 at 4:44:00 pm

Choosing Real-Time Playback Gamma Correction Options almost worked for me. Choosing "approximate" made the picture much better, but not quite back to where it should be. Using Holt Adams suggestion is what finally cleared up the problem for me.

When I went into the "Color" section of the Display system control panel, both my MacBook Pro screen and external monitor had the same color profile chosen that I had never seen before. And the really weird part was that when I chose another color profile on both displays, the strange color profile disappeared entirely; I couldn't reactivate it. It was just gone. Unfortunately, I didn't think to write down it's name before it disappeared, so I can't tell you what it was labeled.

Anyway, thank you Holt for solving my problem.

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Leandro Machado
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Sep 25, 2013 at 12:09:38 pm

Very good! Thank you!

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Sunil Joseph P.
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Feb 6, 2014 at 6:23:50 pm

Thank you Peter!!! It was the gamma correction.
...who knew the answer was in the owners manual...strange


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Eric Bacus
Re: Preview window is dark << Solution~!
on Oct 1, 2015 at 3:01:19 pm

Peter's solution worked for me! Thanks for making me look like a genius :D

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Gabriel Lahovary
Re: Preview window is dark
on May 16, 2012 at 4:54:11 am

I bought a new computer screen, my first. When I connected my MacBook pro to it every videoclip are getting darker in final cut pro. When exporting from it and look on the file from my desktop it's like it should be. I had this problem when I tried to connect to my LCD 40". Why does it get darker and different colours in Final Cut pro 7?

I think my MacBook pro laptop are already calibrated. I can't afford to buy a calibrator and don't now anyone who have one.

What could I'll do? Why does the clips getting darker in FCP when i connect it to an external screen?

Is that my screen couldent connect to RGB or like people write in here about the gamma?

Please help me! I have jobs I need to do!

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Bounty Umbara
Re: Preview window is dark
on Jun 6, 2016 at 7:42:33 pm

I had the same problem.
Mine is Yosemite on iMac late 2013.

I always turn on my external monitor first before I open FCP 7, but a few days ago I was in hurry to see some cuts in an FCP project without turning on my external monitor. There I saw my whole sequence looks much darker in Preview window.

There was no setting changed in FCP 7, all settings were set as how it was before. So I didn’t touch any setting there.

However I found one thing changed in (OS X) System Preferences pane, the Display Profile, It was set to HD 709-A, not iMac as how it was set before.

So I changed it back to iMac.
It solved my problem.

System Preferences > Display > Color > Display Profile > iMac

- Bounty -

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