I thought I had color management figured out, but I can't get a match between AE CS3 and AE CS4/CS5.
This is my typical workflow in CS3: I import my video (ie: DVCProHD captured via Firewire) and tag it as HDTV (Rec. 709). My project is set to HDTV (Rec. 709), 16 bit color. None of the other working space settings are checked.
I do my thing with the video and render it out with, say, the Animation codec, ensuring it's tagged at HDTV (Rec. 709). If I bring that Quicktime render back into the project, tag it with HDTV (Rec. 709) and drop it over the original comp it exactly matches the comp.
I still work primarily in CS3, mainly because I saw no compelling reason to go to CS4. However, the 64-bit performance of CS5 is somewhat compelling. Unfortunately, comps created or Quicktimes rendered in CS3 look very different when opened in CS4 or CS5 unless I have Match Legacy After Effects QuickTime Gamma Adjustments checked (nothing else is checked) in the Project settings. The Help documents for CS4 make it sound like this gamma adjustment was for projects created in AE 7 or earlier, not CS3.
The bigger issue is how do I know which version of After Effects is displaying my comps correctly? I'm working in the same color space in both CS3 and CS4, with the same piece of video tagged as HDTV (Rec. 709), but the video gamma looks visibly lighter in CS4 than CS3.
I'm working on an Intel Mac Pro running OS 10.5.8.
a lot, and I mean a lot of stuff has changed since cs3. If you import cs3 stuff into cs4 or cs5, you'll run into interpretations, color management, everythings different. For one quick example, to get cs3 and cs4 to look comparable, go to cs4's project settings-working space-compensate for scene-referred profiles. That did not exist before.
I've spent most of the afternoon reading about these various project setting changes on Adobe's help pages and some info Trish and Chris Meyer wrote. It explains the theory behind the scene-referred profiles, which is all well and good (and I'm not using that feature here), but it still boils down to which application to trust, CS3 or CS4?
It seems to me that if I import a DVCProHD Quicktime into a project with HDTV (Rec. 709) color settings and tag the QT as HDTV (Rec. 709) it should have the same visual appearance in both CS3 and CS4/CS5 on my calibrated NEC PA241W LCD monitor. It doesn't. That same piece of video appears slightly brighter in CS4/CS5. Does that mean everything I've done in CS3 for the past few years will look overly bright on other systems because it was displaying the gamma incorrectly?
It looks like part of the problem is the DVCProHD video, which seems to behave differently in CS3 and CS4, even when tagged as HDTV (Rec. 709) in both programs. The same video captured into an Avid via the HDSDI output of the deck (as opposed to a direct FW transfer) maintains the same gamma in both CS3 and CS4. I wonder if one of the programs is assigning some invisible tag somewhere.