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Color Management roundtripping from FCP to AE

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Craig Lowy
Color Management roundtripping from FCP to AE
on Aug 31, 2011 at 5:56:18 pm

Greetings Experts,

Color Management. Once upon a time you could edit in Final Cut or Avid, bring the sequence into After Effects to add stuff and then bring the sequence back into FCP or Avid with no problem. Now, in HD, colors seem to shift all over the place.

How can I keep my colors consistent when I roundtrip between Final Cut Pro & After Effects?

My details. I use XDCAM to transcode [or whatever it’s called nowadays] my Sony EX1 footage then edit in FCP 7. Fine. I export from FCP, making a Quicktime movie. Then bring the sequence into After Effects.

The first problem is the footage always looks considerably darker in AE. Next problem? After rendering the AE files, I bring the sequence back into FCP. The footage itself is now slightly paler and the graphics have lightened even more. So what’s the problem? Different color space? Gamma problems? In After Effects I’m using 8 bit and rendering out using the Animation codec. Is there a simple checkbox or setting that I’m overlooking?

In short, who else is making this round trip and how are you successfully keeping the colors constant and unchanging?

Any suggestions or recipes would be greatly appreciated.

– Craig Lowy

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Matt Lyon
Re: Color Management roundtripping from FCP to AE
on Sep 1, 2011 at 12:50:55 am

Hi Craig,

There could be a few things going on, but first off: In AE, you shouldn't render to the animation codec, since it is 8 bit and RGB. Render to prores, or 10 or 8 bit uncompressed 4:2:2. On my last job, we found we got the best results by checking the "Match Legacy After Effects QuickTime Gamma Adjustments" option in the project settings, but YMMV.

Hope this helps,

Matt Lyon

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Craig Lowy
Re: Color Management roundtripping from FCP to AE
on Sep 1, 2011 at 5:44:33 pm

Hey Matt,

Thanks so much! Sounds good, I'll try following your instructions. Sounds like I should stay YUV, avoid RGB, and stop sitting endlessly in front of computer and tv screens and head outside for some vitamin D.

Thanks again,


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