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Shift in Color/quality issue through Final Cut Suite apps

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Ray Argall
Shift in Color/quality issue through Final Cut Suite apps
on Apr 11, 2014 at 5:25:18 am

Hi, I posted this in the Motion Forum about 4 weeks ago but have received no responses so thought I'd throw the net a bit wider as it relates to FCS apps.

I’ve been having some difficulties with workflow through the Final Cut suite apps - specifically maintaining consistent colour management, with round trips from FCP to Color to FCP and then to Motion. Problem becomes apparent in Motion 4 when working with ProRes 4444 files. Problem is most obvious when ready to render out of Motion and choosing Best quality. There is a noticeable shift in contrast or gamma, and a shift in color (slight shift to red/magenta cast). It’s also possible the issue is being caused earlier in the FCS workflow?

The original files are 2K dpx from Arri scanner (of 16mm A&B roll negs), I generated ProRes proxy files in Color (1.5), re-assembled the A&B rolls in FCP, exported xml, and re-conformed to the original dpx in Color, where I’ve graded the images and rendered as ProRes 4444. (Grading is done via BM Decklink HD Extreme 2 card using YUV component output to JVC CRT broadcast monitor)

I’ve sent back to FCP, then sent to Motion - to slightly re-frame the 2K; stabilise original edits (16mm A&B rolls can jump around quite a bit even in the ArriScanner!). It is here I notice the shift in contrast or gamma and colour. (I've been rendering/exporting the individual files out of Motion then importing into FCP, rather than connecting Motion file in FCP and rendering there.)

I’ve done tests on other codecs, and there isn’t a shift when exporting ProRes 422(HQ) or uncompressed 10 bit from dpx in Color. I want to maintain the best possible color range hence using 4444 to master, and uncompressed is a large amount of disk space.

Is this problem being caused by shifting between FCS apps that process color differently (RGB vs YUV)? Or am I missing a setting somewhere? I also looked at a workaround sending the exported files from Motion back to Color for another grade to re-balance the colors - it’s not ideal, plus I noticed the black levels had risen in the newer files exported from Motion.

Any advice greatly appreciated!!

Ray

Work station is Mac Pro 4,1; 2.26ghz 8 core; 12GB RAM; 240GB Sandisk SSD; 6TB internal Raid;

Piccolo Films
Sydney Australia


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Christopher McDonell
Re: Shift in Color/quality issue through Final Cut Suite apps
on Jul 31, 2014 at 7:14:12 pm

Pity no one's responded to this yet. I'm running into problems as well. I just updated to Motion 5 and since I"m cutting with FCP 6.0.6, that means I have to export/import .mov files rather than just roundtripping with the motion file itself. I'm exporting w ProRes 4444 (422 doesn't support alpha?) and what I'm discovering is that FCP only displays these files correctly if I set the Gamma correction to Approximate (System Settings/Playback Control). If I do this, however, the rest of my footage looks washed out. It's been driving me crazy trying to find a solution or a setting I might be missing. Short of sticking with Motion 3 and round-tripping, does anyone have any suggestions?

By opening the same file in QT X (Mavericks) and QT 7 Pro, I can confirm it's the gamma change by simply toggling the checkbox beside "Enable Final Cut Studio compatibility" and comparing the two files side by side.

Chris


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Ray Argall
Re: Shift in Color/quality issue through Final Cut Suite apps
on Aug 5, 2014 at 2:42:22 am

Hi Chris,

Yes it's a bit underwhelming to have no response to this querie, but one just moves on! (The Cow is still a brilliant resource for info)

I find often with the FCS programmes it's hard to get definitive confirmation that you have actually created the best quality files you're after - even in FCP there are little traps in the sequence settings that can downgrade high res files through not checking the right setts (progressive vs interlaced; best for motion files etc). I certainly found that FCP 7.0.3 works better than 6.0.6 (and possibly better for round tripping); however I've stuck with Motion 4 as it appears to be more compatible with FCP 7 (Motion 5 works better with FCP X). So some of your issues could be the update to Motion 5? (And not working well with FCP 6.0.6).

Gamma shift issues are frustrating for sure, I had some success with files (not exactly as you've created) by going to the clip in FCP, right click to bring up item properties, and changing the Alpha setts to None/Ignore or Straight. Might be worth seeing if that makes any difference. You can also open the file in QT 7 PRO (rather than QT X) which gives a better rendition of what the actual file should look like when mastered out.

I've resorted to exporting QT files from Motion, I've found the round tripping problematic. Which doesn't help your problem much, I'm afraid!

Ray

Piccolo Films
Sydney Australia


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