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Color woes

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Declan SmithColor woes
by on Mar 1, 2012 at 1:01:27 pm

Hi

I thought I understood a little about color profiles, but now I am confused!
I have to deliver a project to a client that has specific colors that need to be used. These are setup in After Effects rendered out as H.264 (xH264 not gamma raised) and re-imported back into After Effects and checked with the color picker, all colors as I expect them to be.

Now if I go to finder and use the colorpicker to inspect the preview area, the colors levels are raised.

So, to try and make sense of this I did the following.

In after effects, created a solid grey R=127, G=127, B=127 then rendered out lossless movie, H.264 (x264) movie, and a still image in photoshop format.

Go back to finder and used the colorpicker. The photoshop file shows, 127,127,127, the lossless shows, 144,144,144 and the H264 shows 138,139,139.

If I change my color profile in system preferences (to say gamma 1.8, just so there is a change), then photoshop file remains 127,127,127, lossless is 144,144,144 and H.264 is 120,120,120

If I now import those files into after effects and use the color picker within after effects, it reports that all three files are at 127,127,127

If I now use the apple color picker to inspect the after effects window, it also reports 127,127,127 regardless of the display color profile.

Incidentally, if I import the three files into FCP and look at the RGB parade, all three come in at 56% which I figure is 143,143,143, again, regardless of the display profile.

So my inclination is to believe what is being reported by after effects, But what is going here? I can understand color profile in the monitor to correct visually how colours are displayed, but why the variation of reporting ?

Declan Smith
http://www.madpanic.tv
After Effects CS5.5/ FCS3 / Canon 7D / Canon XL2 / Reason / Cubase

"it's either binary or it's not"


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Walter SoykaRe: Color woes
by on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:01:43 pm

[Declan Smith] "So my inclination is to believe what is being reported by after effects, But what is going here? I can understand color profile in the monitor to correct visually how colours are displayed, but why the variation of reporting ?"

AE and Photoshop are color-managed, but Finder, FCP, and Quicktime are not. That likely accounts for the discrepancy.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Declan SmithRe: Color woes
by on Mar 1, 2012 at 11:40:05 pm

Ah ok, that would explain it.

Also tried color picking the clips from VLC and MPEG Streamclip, which also return back yet different values. Why do all these apps not just let the display be responsible for how the colors are displayed? It really makes the use of the color picker an almost pointless task because it just picks what some applications' interpretation of a color is.

Anyway, knowing that both PhotoShop and AfterEffects respect color profiles at least give me some level of confidence of repeatability and certainty.

Declan Smith
http://www.madpanic.tv
After Effects CS5.5/ FCS3 / Canon 7D / Canon XL2 / Reason / Cubase

"it's either binary or it's not"


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Darby EdelenRe: Color woes
by on Mar 2, 2012 at 1:08:35 pm

I believe the Finder, Final Cut Pro and QuickTime all use various forms of color management, but they're not very predictable and don't follow the standards that Adobe uses.

As far as I recall, QuickTime and Final Cut Pro will arbitrarily assign or guess at a color profile to use based on the footage codec. AE does this as well, but does a better job in addition to allowing you to notice that it's wrong (if it's wrong) and fix it.

Darby Edelen


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Walter SoykaRe: Color woes
by on Mar 2, 2012 at 2:09:51 pm

[Darby Edelen] "I believe the Finder, Final Cut Pro and QuickTime all use various forms of color management, but they're not very predictable and don't follow the standards that Adobe uses."

I'd argue that it doesn't count as color management if it's not predictable or controllable!

Final Cut Pro 7 and earlier specifically bypassed ColorSync, so the applications were not able to use the display's profile. FCPX is color-managed and is built for Apple's ColorSync. QuickTime Player and QuickTime X will both display the same video differently, and I have no idea about the Finder.

Color with Apple's software seems to be a moving target.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Declan SmithRe: Color woes
by on Mar 2, 2012 at 2:31:21 pm

What I don't understand is that the reporting of colors is inconsistent. The underlying file remains unchanged, but different apps report different values for the RGB values. I can understand that apps will display differently, but in the case of FCP, it's own scopes showed the midgrey as 56% instead of 50% i.e. a raised level.

It's the discrepancy of the reporting that I find alarming, as passing files around / transcoding may or may not have an impact! Take the adobe kuler website in safari. The OS colorpicker and the after effects color picker report the correct RGB values for a particular color swatch regardless of the display color profile, i.e. they agree. Interestingly though if you select the surrounding menubar in safari, changing the display profile will affect the results returned, but the main contents window seems unaffacted.

So all in all, very inconsistent behaviour. If I can be confident that the files I output from AE are correct then I am happy. As for the rest, then I seriously think I have either missed something fundamental or the whole color management thing is a mess.

Declan Smith
http://www.madpanic.tv
After Effects CS5.5/ FCS3 / Canon 7D / Canon XL2 / Reason / Cubase

"it's either binary or it's not"


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Walter SoykaRe: Color woes
by on Mar 2, 2012 at 2:48:46 pm

Color management works by modifying the RGB values of a color to keep the color itself -- not the numbers -- consistent as you move from one profile to another. With different and inconsistent CM systems, it makes sense that you may see different numbers.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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