OK, and thanks for that clarification. I did not want you joisting with windmills, when it was but a player issue.
Now, I have not encountered what you showed, and am also a PC-only guy, so not sure how much help I can be. However, there are some great folk here, and they will be by soon, with some useful ideas.
Did you use Quicktime's H.264 export option? Or just standard h.264 using the .mp4 container? If you used the Quicktime h.264 the option itself is flawed. Here are some links regarding the issue.
If you read around the net a lot of people have had this issue with h264. A couple of the articles I posted are supposed to "fix" the problem although I haven't ever tried any of them myself. I've never experinced a gamma shift when using the standard h.264 format option in Premiere, however if you have already used that option and you're still having issues then I have no clue what is going on. However when I import ProRes files into Premiere they don't appear washed out, but when I play them in Quicktime or VLC they do appear washed out. I've always just assumed Premiere was somehow correcting it, because when I export my video to mpeg-2 for playback on our server it looks like it looked in Premiere.
From what I have read though the reason the Quicktime format does this when using the h.264 codec looks and looks washed out is because of a incorrect gamma tag. But Premiere isn't affected/fooled by this like most media players are. According from how they made it sound on provideo and the one other site I read it on anyways.
Thanks for the information ComputerNovice25.
I use the standard H.264 option when encoding from PP or Media Encoder. There are H.264 Blu-Ray and Quicktime options but I use H.264 which results in /mp4 files. Strangely, even when I use MPEG-2 or MPEG4 I'm still seeing the same issues.
I have a feeling that my problem is not limited to the H.264 codec but, like you said, something to do with how PP is interpreting the footage for playback. If this is the case, would the simple solution be to compensate for the gamma shift before encoding - so the footage looks too dark in PP - but acceptable when playing afterwards?
Since you're having issues with mpeg-2 I know something wierd is for sure going now. Do you have a NVIDIA graphics card? Sometimes when people have NVIDIA GPU's and they have their color range set to limited 16-235 it causes stuff in their media players to look washed out. I'm not sure how to weak this on a mac though but you need to make sure your colors aren't set to 16-235 because that's what I'm starting to suspect, because I haven't ever had issues with mpeg-2 appearing "washed out". Unless their is some wierd bug going on here.
Also often times with mac's you need to check the following settings
Check this too... Scroll to the bottom of the post there is also one towards the middle that might help.
There are a couples settings mac's have that make things look washed out. Also could you upload a small test file that I could check on my system? The reason I don't think it would be good to make the color darker is because I'm thinking this is probably a GPU/OS on your specific machine possibly causing the issue. Video used to be washed out on my PC too but once I found the 16-235 and changed it then all my media players looked correct. Before they looked terrible though and Premiere looked okay.
Hopefully this doesn't turn out to be a bug but I don't think it is, because I use mpeg-2 several times a day when I export for broadcast and I haven't ever had it wash my video out in any media player at all unless my GPU settings weren't correct.
I do indeed have an NVIDIA card - NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 256 MB - running on OS X 10.7.4. Your theory sounds quite close to what the problem actually could be.
Here's a test clip (mp4) - https://www.dropbox.com/s/12h1htyacchr8dk/Gamma%20test%206.mp4
Here's an MPEG2 for comparison as well - https://www.dropbox.com/s/tprd7k7blprpztl/Gamma%20test%207.mpg
Both look identical in both VLC and QT, ie. washed out compared to what I'm seeing in PP.
The fix may be within your Nvidia Control Panel settings. I was having this issue when exporting from Premiere CS6 and uploading to Vimeo (the video once posted to Vimeo was washed out and/or hazy).
The fix I found was to use the NVIDIA control panel to control your video playback instead of the video player’s settings.
- Open your NVIDIA Control Panel (type NVIDIA in your start menu search field and select NVIDIA Control Panel).
- Go down to Video and select “Adjust video color settings.”
- Under #2 (How do you make color adjustments), select “With the NVIDIA settings.”
- Under the Advanced tab change the Dynamic Range with the drop down to “Full (0-255)” (not “Limited (16-235)”).
- For my display to look as it should, I had to uncheck “Dynamic contrast enhancement.”
My video now appears as it should (not washed out).
The answer to your questions illustrates the difficulty of working with all the various devices we have: there is NOTHING you can do to see that those who view your video work have appropriately set devices, whether desktops, tv's, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. The best you can do without going crazy is:
1) CALIBRATE your own system with a decent "puck" and software package.
2) TEST your output across a variety of devices you WILL be delivering content to, especially if it is for-pay to B-cast stations, satellite/cable companies, content distributors, anything like that. You may need slightly different post-process practices for different markets/user-groups.
3) Accept that you cannot control the infinite variables of an un-calibrated world. And get on with getting work out the door by following 1) & 2) above.
Yeah, I know, but this particular H264 issue with the washed out colors have been driving me crazy.
I work mostly with 2D animations, and the fact that a red background (which is the client color) suddenly turns to pink on the final H264 is a huge pain in the ***. In videos these washed out colors aren´t that big deal, but in animations, this is a deal breaker.
The issue isn't that the color has changed in the file ... the issue is that the gamma or the outer-range of signal have been changed by a video player. Or both. Similar to the note above in this thread by another person, my video card (EVGA GTX-770/4Gb of course nVidia based) installed itself using it's own default setup for video programs: 16-235. Unless a video player (such as that within PrPro) insists on doing it's own thing, that will "rule" what happens. Shrink a 0-255 video to 16-235 and wow ... the darks just ain't so dark, the highlights mush, and the color tends to flatten a bit ... as of course does contrast (the last two are linked, of course, as far as "data" goes).
Now, let's throw on top the gamma question ... different video players treat gamma a bit differently. In other threads when someone provides an example of "bad" export by PrPro, another user has taken the "bad" clip, changed the gamma inverse to what the used video player typically does, and gee ... it suddenly and completely matched the "original" example set side by side with the "bad export" example. Again ... it wasn't that PrPro had done a bad job, but that the gamma used by the video player was a bit different.
You cannot control those variables in other machines run by other people ... the range issue or the gamma issue ... on all devices that will show your material. You can check if PrPro is exporting other than expected by bringing an exported clip back into PrPro ... with appropriate settings on the export, it SHOULD match the original. If on another machine in say Quicktime ... it probably will not. Given that many nVidia chipped cards set up with an assumed 16-235 range, and shrink all other material down into that range, there's a problem right there. Throw in the typical gamma mismatch between Quicktime and most anything else, you've got two variables that are WRONG. And that you as the "content provider" cannot control.
After changing the default nVidia control panel setting to assume 0-255, VLC seems to behave properly on my machine. Quicktime treats the same output into different codecs differently. Matched exports ... always play like the original in PrPro, and since I changed the nVidia setup default they play the same in VLC, but ... play differently depending on which codec is used in Quicktime.
Which is why around "here" a lot of folks stay the heck away from it. At least as far as any "critical" viewing goes. Or use it only to get an idea how Quicktime will mangle their efforts. If "your" market is all running Quicktime, then ... plan for it by testing and finding what settings you need to make in PrPro to make "in the wild" Quicktime players "show" your file somewhat maybe closer to what you want. And if they're on nVidia chips, well ... you might need to output to 16-235.
Or ... output correct material. And know you can't control what others do.
Whichever fits your market needs better.
I thought calibration for stills shooting such that what "we" saw on screen was what we got back from a lab as difficult.
Video is SO much more complex ... but some of it is just out of one's control. Or you go nuts. Naw, set your gear up "righteous", know thy market, and get the stuff out. Get a glass of beer, wine or coffee, and enjoy life ...