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Dean Pickersgill
Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 13, 2013 at 4:12:31 pm

I wonder if anyone can point out what I'm doing wrong in outputting my comp from AE6 using various colorspaces ...?

My footage looks fine on my calibrated working-monitor, but when I render it out and view it on my TV it looks fairly cruddy. Doesn't seem to matter what color space profile I use, be in sRGB, SDTV, HDTV, Adobe RGB - you name 'em, I tried them all - the result never differ; it's dark, my HD greenscreened components become filled with artifacts and don't look HD anymore ... My comp settings match the footage I'm using, so I don't see that this is the problem.

A 'tolerable' result in fact comes from turing color management off completely, in which case it's slightly less bright than on my monitor.

I've read some posts by Dave LeRonde and Walter Soyka specifically about colour space use for TV but even following their worthy advice I'm still at a loss to understand why I'm not getting that bright, crispy look I expect.

Anyone advise me more please?

Best regards
Dean


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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 13, 2013 at 4:15:37 pm

... And as an aside I notice that the rendering from After Effects is significantly worse in ANY case than if I switch back to PP and export the media from there ...!


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Walter Soyka
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 13, 2013 at 4:39:48 pm

How did you calibrate your monitor? What space is your footage starting in? What format are you compressing to, and how are you watching on a TV?

Lots of variables!

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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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 13, 2013 at 6:11:02 pm

Hi Walter ...

How did you calibrate your monitor?

... I used the ColorSync tool on my MAC. I must say it's a tool I'm not fully trusting; it seems to give different appearances to ALL my monitors (when calibrated individually) - I expected them to deliver at least similar results, but they're all different. However, I DO trust the output from one monitor, so I've used that to work with ...

What space is your footage starting in?

It's AVCHD footage from a Panasonic HDC700 and I've no idea what the native space for that camera is, or where to look for it!

What format are you compressing to, and how are you watching on a TV?

By 'format' I assume you mean what Codec? It's the H264 Mainconcept codec inside PP (which is sent along to AE I believe?) - but regardless of that if I interpret the footage (to ie HDTV) for my workspace, and set the output module to HDTV surely that should work, regardless of the 'incoming' format?

As for how I'm watching it - tried several methods; VLC, Windows Media Player (from a laptop) and I'm just about to try writing it to a DVD ...

Rgds Dean


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Walter Soyka
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 13, 2013 at 11:02:46 pm

[Dean Pickersgill] "How did you calibrate your monitor? ... I used the ColorSync tool on my MAC. I must say it's a tool I'm not fully trusting; it seems to give different appearances to ALL my monitors (when calibrated individually) - I expected them to deliver at least similar results, but they're all different. However, I DO trust the output from one monitor, so I've used that to work with ..."

You really have to do this with a real probe for color management to work. I use the X-Rite i1Display. Without objective measurement like this, you have no way of knowing what you can trust.

Of course, if the display on the TV side is also uncalibrated and unmanaged, you have no idea what processing the TV itself is doing or what you'll get on final display. This is the part with no real solution. If you go into any big-box retailer and look at their wall of TVs, you'll see that every single one is different.

The best we can generally do is make sure our own pipelines are correct and leave it to the viewer to make sure their device is correct.

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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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 14, 2013 at 9:23:28 am

Thanks Walter, and the summary of your advice being 'get a proper colour probe' of course opens up more questions for me! ;-)

I'm grateful for your input, I shall explore/learn more …!

Best regards
Dean


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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 14, 2013 at 10:11:31 am

Walter can I ask - if I use a bog-standard no frills TV as my 'workspace monitor' is it likely the resultant output would be at least tolerable on other TV's ...?


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Walter Soyka
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 16, 2013 at 3:51:01 pm

[Dean Pickersgill] "Walter can I ask - if I use a bog-standard no frills TV as my 'workspace monitor' is it likely the resultant output would be at least tolerable on other TV's ...?"

Walter's First Rule of Color Management: First, do no harm. (Yes, I stole it from Hippocrates.)

Consider what would happen if your TV is off one way (maybe its gamma is set a bit too bright) and your viewer's TV is off the other way (its gamma is set a bit too dark). You'd be looking at the image on your monitor, say to yourself, "My, this is too bright," and then you'd darken it. Your viewer's monitor would darken it even more, doubling the incorrect correction.

The only way we know we are doing no harm is working with properly profiled displays.

Once our work is out in the wild, we have no control over the displays. Color management and good intentions can't help us any more. The best we can do to prepare for this is work to the standards we have and hope that the real-world displays don't deviate too far.

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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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 16, 2013 at 5:32:53 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Consider what would happen if your TV is off one way (maybe its gamma is set a bit too bright) and your viewer's TV is off the other way (its gamma is set a bit too dark). You'd be looking at the image on your monitor, say to yourself, "My, this is too bright," and then you'd darken it. Your viewer's monitor would darken it even more, doubling the incorrect correction."

I think I hear what you're saying, Walter, forgive my tiny brain ;-) So the Colour Meter device you're using allows you to tune your working monitor to the industry-standard colour spaces - then it's likely the footage will look like all the other stuff the viewer watches (assuming he's got his TV set inside his viewing comfort-zone) :-)

I intend to rush off and buy one; do I also need to obtain any particular display to go with it, or will the 1080 Phillips I've got suffice? Or is it best to calibrate an average TV and use that …?

Rgds Dean


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Walter Soyka
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 16, 2013 at 6:26:40 pm

[Dean Pickersgill] "I think I hear what you're saying, Walter, forgive my tiny brain ;-)"

Ha -- I'm not a color scientist, I just play one on the Internet. This is some conceptually-challenging stuff!


[Dean Pickersgill] "So the Colour Meter device you're using allows you to tune your working monitor to the industry-standard colour spaces"

Sort of, but not really.

Tuning the monitor for its most consistent output -- calibration -- is the first part of a two-step process. The second part -- profiling -- is equally important.

A device's profile is a description of how it makes color. With a probe like the X-Rite i1Display Pro I was shilling for earlier, we can send the display a series of known input values and measure the color that is actually produced.

What does that get us?

Our monitors work by specific mixing amounts of red, green and blue light at each pixel to produce color. However, the actual amounts of red, green and blue light necessary to make a specific color may vary from device to device.

In other words, the same color can be produced by two different sets of RGB values on two different devices. Likewise, the same set of RGB values may produce two different colors on two different devices.

When we are talking about a specific color in a defined display profile like HD's Rec. 709, we know exactly what RGB values are necessary in Rec. 709 to make that color. When we measure (profile) our own displays, we can figure out what RGB values we need to send to the monitor to produce that exact same color.

The purpose of color management is to keep the appearance of a specific color correct and consistent across profiles and devices. Color management itself is the process whereby we transform those color values from one profile to another to ensure consistent color reproduction.

With After Effects, we assign profiles to out inputs, we set a working space in which all calculations (the actual math on the RGB values) are performed, and we optionally have separate profiles for display and for rendered output.

Every piece of imported footage is transformed from its own native space into the working space for processing. That's important, because if you have inputs with different profiles (say, Rec. 709 video and Adobe 1998 photography), you don't have a common mathematical basis for performing the calculations. It's kind of like math with fractions: if you want to add 1/4 and 1/2, you have to first translate the 1/2 to 2/4 before you can arrive at 3/4.

Once everything has been processed in the working space, it can be translated to your display space so you can see it in the viewer window, and it can be translated for output to the profile of your choice.

Your monitor profile comes into play in the viewer window, where the RGB values calculated from the comp in its working space are transformed to the RGB values in your monitor's profile that represent those same colors.

To complicate matters further, viewing conditions and gamma play a huge role here, and very specifically in your concern that things look darker in one setting than they do in another. Controlling the lighting in your work area (or compensating for differences in lighting via gamma) is an important part of perceiving color the same way in the suite the viewer does at home.


[Dean Pickersgill] "... then it's likely the footage will look like all the other stuff the viewer watches (assuming he's got his TV set inside his viewing comfort-zone) :-)"

Yes, this part is right, if everyone else is also using some kind of color management and has similar taste as you.


[Dean Pickersgill] "I intend to rush off and buy one; do I also need to obtain any particular display to go with it, or will the 1080 Phillips I've got suffice? Or is it best to calibrate an average TV and use that …?"

To be clear, when I talk about Ae's color management system, I'm referring to a display attached to your computer. In general, you'll get better color (broader gamuts, more consistent reproduction) from more expensive displays.

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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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 16, 2013 at 8:51:55 pm

I'm grateful for your words Walter, and plan to get an Xrite over the next couple of days - I'll let you know how I get on with it. As this is my first production I naturally want to deliver the best possible render, your advices are roving invaluable ;-)

Rgds Dean


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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 17, 2013 at 7:06:44 pm

Got an Xrite i1 display pro and I'm already more than happy with the resulting calibrations, Walter :-) Fabulous tool, and it's beginning to fill what I already know are some massive gaps in my knowledge.

Thanks again for the pointers, and for recommending such a great piece of kit.

All the best
Dean


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Walter Soyka
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 17, 2013 at 7:27:21 pm

[Dean Pickersgill] "Got an Xrite i1 display pro and I'm already more than happy with the resulting calibrations, Walter :-) Fabulous tool, and it's beginning to fill what I already know are some massive gaps in my knowledge. Thanks again for the pointers, and for recommending such a great piece of kit."

Glad to hear it!

Cheers,

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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Dean Pickersgill
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 17, 2013 at 7:18:59 pm

... Ooh, meant to ask in case you know off the top of your head - does PP inherit the workspace-profile I'm using in the related AE comp? I can't seem to find an output module in PP that reflects AE ...?

Rgds D


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Walter Soyka
Re: Output Colourspace (AE6)
on Dec 17, 2013 at 8:18:08 pm

[Dean Pickersgill] "... Ooh, meant to ask in case you know off the top of your head - does PP inherit the workspace-profile I'm using in the related AE comp? I can't seem to find an output module in PP that reflects AE ...?"

Premiere is not color-managed. (If you'd like to see that change, here's the feature request form [link].)

As long as your Ae working space matches your final output profile (Rec. 709 for HD), Premiere won't muck anything up.

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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