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Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look

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Sam Freeman
Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:18:37 pm

Hi Guys,

I hope you can help with this because I've been searching around and I'm struggling to come to a conclusion.

I've been working on a compositing shot in 32bit because I wanted to get the nice blurs, glows and subtlety of colours that just aren't possible with 16bit. The shot looks great, and now I'm trying to render it out. The problem I'm getting is that it looks so dull when rendered (because of the down convert to 16bit). i thought I'd set colour management up right (although a slight shot in the dark) - and this wouldn't happen... Bit naive maybe...

There seems to be enough info out there to introduce people to 32bit, but I can't find much that actually tells you how to properly set up and export in 32bit... That seems to be left off articles and tutorials.

One question I can't help but raise is what is the point of working in 32bit, when we can only (it seems) output in 16bit? I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the render module in AFX would be able to retain the colour information if I'd set the profile up from the outset?

Can anyone give me some more articles/pointers..?

Thanks
Sam


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Vishesh Arora
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:31:30 pm

Sam

You can export file in 32 BPC.

Click on Best Settings in render Queue and select 32 bits per channel in Color Depth.






Vishesh Arora
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Sam Freeman
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:45:31 pm

Thanks Vishesh, I'm rendering another test now (using TIFFs) so I can't check now, but I'll look at that in a bit. Surely if it's set to current then it should be automatically in 32bit (as that's what I'm working in).

The Tiffs are looking good, but my concern now is turning those TIFFs into a deliverable format... I need to show this to the director and then deliver to the edit...


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Sam Freeman
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 4:01:20 pm

Ok, so I've got the TIFFs and they look great. I've found a workaround in that I go into photoshop, run a batch file convert on the TIFF to convert them into 16bit and remove the colour profile.

I can then turn these TIFFs into a ProRes file to show the client using FCP and it retains the majority of my look.

But surely this can't be right? Seems a bit cluncky.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 4:45:21 pm

[Sam Freeman] "I can then turn these TIFFs into a ProRes file..."

Now, you ARE aware that the ProRes family of codecs are ten-bit color, correct? So your carefully-rendered 32-bit TIFF sequences ultimately are being converted to 10-bit color.

If they look fine to you in FCP, you could render to ProRes straight out of after Effects and cut out the transcoding.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Tero Ahlfors
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 7:09:32 pm

[Sam Freeman] "But surely this can't be right? Seems a bit cluncky"

Those insane bit depths are pretty much only for post production or mastering. Broadcast and web is video is 8-bits so you still need to bring it down when you are making your deliverables.


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Sam Freeman
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 7:58:28 pm

I guess my main questions is how can I help retain the look on an output - I know it's probably not possible to do it entirely accurately, but the benefits of working at this high depth seem vast in terms of how things look. So it would be great to try and use it more often - and that means getting it out of the program.

I know ProRes is only 10bit, but at least my offsite director can see that... :0) And it would be great to avoid working through photoshop to resample them to 16bit then ProResing them, but After Effects always seems to overcomplicate things!

Maybe I'm asking for the best of both worlds. But they are both so nice...


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 9:42:14 pm

If it's a matter of the "look" only and you need to get the same results in a 10bit or even 8bit file for final delivery most of the issues come from having linearize workspace "On" for 32 bit in your project settings. Turn that off and the "look" should be preserved in the final render(eg no more washed out colors or banding in glows or blurs).

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Darby Edelen
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 15, 2013 at 10:34:48 pm

[Sam Freeman] "Ok, so I've got the TIFFs and they look great. I've found a workaround in that I go into photoshop, run a batch file convert on the TIFF to convert them into 16bit and remove the colour profile.

I can then turn these TIFFs into a ProRes file to show the client using FCP and it retains the majority of my look.

But surely this can't be right? Seems a bit cluncky."


You should be able to do any adjustments you're making in Photoshop within AE instead. Have you tried setting your output module's color settings to something else? What you're describing in Photoshop, for example, sounds roughly like "Preserve RGB" in the output module.

The benefits of 32bpc are not in the delivery. There are very few formats that allow you to store 32bpc (or equivalent) and most of these are intermediate or cinema formats (not video). The benefits of 32bpc are almost entirely in the latitude that it provides you while working with the footage: compositing and color correction.

Retaining "the look" shouldn't be too much of a stretch of the imagination since the output on your display is already not 32bpc.

Darby Edelen


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Sam Freeman
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 16, 2013 at 10:10:19 am

Thanks for all you input guys. I have been playing around with the various output settings and I do find that After Effects seems to somehow mash the picture - really crushing the black channel down and removing a lot of the colour hue. Whilst photoshop leaves the image reasonably the same. It's like After Effects is being really smart, but doing more than I need it to...

I'll keep trying various options in the colour output dialog and let you know if I see a way through.

Cheers
Sam


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Walter Soyka
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 18, 2013 at 2:29:41 am

[Sam Freeman] "I have been playing around with the various output settings and I do find that After Effects seems to somehow mash the picture - really crushing the black channel down and removing a lot of the colour hue. Whilst photoshop leaves the image reasonably the same. It's like After Effects is being really smart, but doing more than I need it to..."

Can you post some screen shots of your material, before and after, as well as your color management settings?

What you are describing is not at all typical or expected, so hopefully we can help you to correct this.

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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Sam Freeman
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 18, 2013 at 9:15:34 am

I've uploaded some example stills of what I've got going on.

5258_pictureassets.zip

There are 3 stills and a screengrab of my settings

Item 1: My output from a linearized colour space.What I want!
Item 2: A 16bit convert in photoshop and the colour space not embedded on save. What I want!
Item 3: An output from after effects with preserve RGB selected What I don't want!
Item 4: Screengrab of settings when using colour management

I find if I bring the 32bit stills into AFX and export 16bit I get the result of item 3. If I go via photoshop I get Item 2.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 18, 2013 at 3:54:05 pm

You are not setting color management up correctly. Here's my intro to color management in Ae:

Different color profiles may use the same RGB numbers to represent different colors. For example, a specific RGB value in Adobe RGB may look different on-screen than it does in Rec. 709, and Adobe RGB and Rec. 709 may use different RGB numbers to represent the same color.

The goal of color management is to keep the appearance of color consistent across profiles and devices. To do that, you must define how the color is coming in (by interpreting your footage with the correct profile), and also define how it's going out (by choosing a working space that matches your destination, or by choosing another working space and adding a profile that matches your destination to the output module).

Following this idea, Ae's color management brings in images and movies, converts them from their native color profiles into the working space, performs all the additional mathematics for effects and blending in the working space, then optionally converts from the working space to an output profile for previews (using your monitor profile) and renders (using the output profile specified in the item's output module).


[Sam Freeman] "
Item 1: My output from a linearized colour space.What I want!
Item 2: A 16bit convert in photoshop and the colour space not embedded on save. What I want!"


If you do not correctly define the input profile for Ae footage items, you may not get the results you expect, because the system has no way of knowing what color you intend to display with the specific RGB values stored in the image. For a very rough analogy, think of it this way: an image with a profile embedded describes color like an absolute address, like "100 Main Street, Anytown, USA." It's a precise and specific value, and you can get there from anywhere. An image without a profile describes color like relative directions: "take the second left, then take the first right. " It only works if you happen to be in the right spot to begin with.

I notice item 1 is ProPhoto RGB (linear), so we'll go with that. (I am guessing that when you saved item 2 out of Photoshop, you saved it in sRGB, even though you didn't tag it as such.)



[Sam Freeman] "There are 3 stills and a screengrab of my settings"

It looks like you're using ProPhoto as your working space.

Assuming you're delivering in HD, let's change the working space to Rec. 709 (so your outputs will default to Rec. 709, which any HD player will expect).



[Sam Freeman] "Item 3: An output from after effects with preserve RGB selected What I don't want!"

You're right, you sure don't want that. Preserve RGB passes the RGB values through unchanged -- so the color space transformation necessary to preserve the appearance of your colors from ProPhoto RGB to a computer or HD display is not happening. It's basically a checkbox to disable color management.

This is very useful for data passes (like position passes, motion vectors, depth passes, etc.), but it's rarely a good idea to engage this for an image pass.



[Sam Freeman] "I find if I bring the 32bit stills into AFX and export 16bit I get the result of item 3. If I go via photoshop I get Item 2."

Check out the image below (but please be aware that your browser may or may not be color-managed -- for critical viewing, bring it into Ae, enable color management, and note that the JPEG itself is sRGB).

That's all done using Ae's color management, as described above. Is the bottom image what you expect to see?

5258_freemancolormanagement.jpg


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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Sam Freeman
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 18, 2013 at 4:57:53 pm

Hi Walter,

Thanks for that excellent (and very clear) explanation of what is going on. The bottom frame is exactly what I was hoping for.

So that's bringing the 32bit TIFFs I've rendered into After Effects - which is great. So if I wanted to avoid the step of rendering out 32bit TIFF's and reimporting the sequence I can still retain the look of the ProPhoto RGB colour space by rendering out from AFX but specifying the Colour space to export to?

So I could render a 16bit TIFF sequence - as long as I assign a colour profile such as Rec.709 in the colour management dialogue? Is my understanding accurate? (I'm rendering so I can't check it out, but I will asap).

Thanks for your time - this is really helping!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 18, 2013 at 6:29:54 pm

[Sam Freeman] "Thanks for that excellent (and very clear) explanation of what is going on. The bottom frame is exactly what I was hoping for."

Glad to help. I've written pretty extensively on color management on this forum, so a quick search here on "color management" should return a bunch of different variations on this post. Each are somewhat targeted to their own specific threads, but put together should be a pretty comprehensive overview.

There are a couple good Adobe resources, too:

After Effects / Color management [link]

Color management workflow in After Effects CS4 [link] (still applicable to CS6)



[Sam Freeman] "So that's bringing the 32bit TIFFs I've rendered into After Effects - which is great. So if I wanted to avoid the step of rendering out 32bit TIFF's and reimporting the sequence I can still retain the look of the ProPhoto RGB colour space by rendering out from AFX but specifying the Colour space to export to?"

The color profile you're rendering to should match what the next element in the workflow (whatever that is) expects, because if the next application to touch the file doesn't understand the color space correctly, it will not show the colors correctly.

If you're working in HD, you most likely want to set your output module to use Rec. 709.

I don't think it matters what your working space is if you're working in 32bpc in Ae; with floating point math, all the color spaces are unbounded. If you are working in 16bpc or 8bpc, you want to make sure that your working space is large enough at least to encompass all your outputs. I generally recommend working in the color space of your output for simplicity's sake.


[Sam Freeman] "So I could render a 16bit TIFF sequence - as long as I assign a colour profile such as Rec.709 in the colour management dialogue? Is my understanding accurate? (I'm rendering so I can't check it out, but I will asap)."

Yes. By default, output modules will output in the working space, but you can override this in the output module's color management tab and Ae will transform from the working space to the output space on render.

FYI, with the display color management option enabled (under the View menu), Ae will transform colors from the working space to your monitor's space, independent of the output space. If you have a reasonably nice monitor and a reasonably nice probe (I use the i1 Display Pro), you can get reasonably accurate color on your display.

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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Tom Daigon
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 18, 2013 at 5:45:49 pm

Whew, great explanation Walter. Ive always done color management but never had such a clear understanding of why I was doing it. Thanks!

Tom Daigon
PrP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com





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Walter Soyka
Re: Rendering out 32bit and retaining the look
on Jan 18, 2013 at 6:36:39 pm

[Tom Daigon] "Whew, great explanation Walter."

I am not a color scientist, but I play one on the Internet!


[Tom Daigon] " Ive always done color management but never had such a clear understanding of why I was doing it. Thanks!"

Color management is important when you are bringing multiple different kinds of inputs together, or when your inputs are in a different color space than your outputs must be.

You could leave color management off if all your inputs match your output. For example, if you're compositing multiple HD videos, everything will probably be Rec. 709, so there's no need to convert colors. (However, disabling color management also naturally disables display color management, so you'll lose the benefit of a profiled monitor.)

One final note: Premiere is not color managed, so any prep work in Ae and Ps should take that into account!

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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