5 Replies Latest reply on May 22, 2009 10:31 AM by Adolfo Rozenfeld

    Color Issues with export / other hardware

    Jrsey Level 1

      Hello All,

       

      Having a few color issues, and hopefully someone can point me in the right direction.

       

      I'm ready to export a project from After Effects CS3 and am having various color issues. The project is 720p and has a working color space of Adobe RGB 98. (Coming from a photo background this seemed to be the most logical working space when I began the project, and now I realize not so much) When it is exported without any compression it looks great on my monitor.

       

      However today when I went to the sound studio to talk with them about the project it looked horrible on their projector - it was too bright and there wasn't a dense / rich black to be found. ( They were running a Panasonic PT-AE3000U. Nice piece.) They played the QuickTime file off of an XP machine. I forgot to ask if their projector was calibrated, but they did mention the brightness was all they way up.

       

      Upon getting back to the studio I began doing my research and found I should be exporting to rec.709 - not a huge deal, as my workflow is managed. A partial export shows that rec.709 is darker, much darker, than ARGB. I'm now working to adjust the color so it looks right on a rec.709 output.

       

      First, is this ARGB ---> to rec.709 correct, especially if the final output is going to be Blu-ray? As well, is there anyway to keep the color close to consistent across devices or am I at the mercy of the monitor / projector? 

       

      Thanks for your input.

        • 1. Re: Color Issues with export / other hardware
          Adolfo Rozenfeld Adobe Employee
          First, is this ARGB ---> to rec.709 correct, especially if the final output is going to be Blu-ray? As well, is there anyway to keep the color close to consistent across devices or am I at the mercy of the monitor / projector?

          Jrsey: I am not sure that's a good idea. An output profile is sometimes used to "bake" a color transform in the final render, in specific cases. One could be, for example, having the project working space set to HDTV REC.709 and then assigning an output profile of HDTV REC.709 16-235 (never use that as working space) so that the pixels processed in the wider REC.709 are then legalized for broadcast-legal REC.709. It's also used to "force" a device simulation into a rendered file, so one could watch that device preview in an exported video file.

           

           

          I would set the project working space to HDTV REC.709 and not assign any output profile, or assign the HDTV REC.709 16-235 (again, only as output profile, never for working space) for rendering. I only use output profiles in that way (for STDV NTSC 16-235, for example). It's also important to check that all footage items are automatically interpreted so they show the right input profile, or assign the right one (HDTV REC.709, SDTV NTSC, SDTV PAL)  for the few exceptions in which this doesn't work by itself. It's not necessary that the input profile matches the working space, just that the app assigns the right one. For example, if you have Photoshop files that are in Adobe RGB, AE will use the embeded profile for input and handle the trasform to the working space perfectly.

           

          Regarding consistent colors across devices.... yes, you're at the mercy of the monitor / projector. Unless you calibrate them with a hardware device (They can be bought nowadays for under $100). I never tried it with a projector, but the software offers that as one of the options.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Color Issues with export / other hardware
            Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

            Jrsey wrote:

             

            or am I at the mercy of the monitor / projector? 

             

            Generally speaking - yes. Unlike for print/ pre-press, there are very few or no standardized calibration rules. A simple overcranking of brightness can massively skew the viewing experience. The only way to be halfway sure are calibrated studio monitors with the video signal being routed through hardware vectorscopes before to monitor their actual electrical signal levels. Projectors may work as well, but in most cases they are simply used to impress people, but not calibrated and then also calibration for them works differently to begin with. You should really ask the studio if the equipment holds up to that before doing any color correction work which then only may also be incorrect. You should also get away from thinking in print/ photographic terms here. There is no such thing as "rich black" and "pure white" in video. Not only do the various broadcast specs work with limited color ranges, but also because of the above, the screen pixels will never be really black if a certain brightness level is used... Things have gotten better with HD, though, as it closes the gap between computer displays and video monitors. Apart from that - everything mentioned previously is of course right. simulating the output and tweaking the effects to look good is usually preferable to already compressing the color range.

             

            Mylenium

            • 3. Re: Color Issues with export / other hardware
              Jrsey Level 1

              Thanks for the help - It should get me going in the right direction.

               

              Since this project has over 700 layers and numerous nestings perhaps I should leave it in ARGB to finish it, export it without an export profile, and bring it back into a new project with the 709 workspace? Or am I just creating too much trouble for myself?

               

              I guess it's difficult for me to think of professional studios that dont calibrate their screening area devices since I calibrate anything in my path from studio monitors, to my projetor and HDTVs.

               

              Thanks again.

              • 4. Re: Color Issues with export / other hardware
                Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

                Jrsey wrote:

                 

                export it without an export profile, and bring it back into a new project with the 709 workspace? Or am I just creating too much trouble for myself?

                 

                Yes, that sounds sensible. Since your system is calibrated, it should give you a 1:1 representation that can then be further massaged if needed. Just the opposite, if you now started to adjust all comps and sources, you might create a mess, which is what you wanted to avoid. There's always the chance to miss out on adjusting an effect's value or that one clip you only use for a second someplace... As for uncalibrated equipment - not uncommon, even in print and even more in anything to do with video and web design. As long as Master Collections don'tr ship with a free Colormunki or such, that's not bound to change much, though people are more aware of these issues than a few years back. The failure for most video equipment is, that it's calibrated once when it's new, then never again,givingno credit to blown out phosphors or faded screens, further compunded by that people do not watch the electrical side of things and use bad cables...

                 

                Mylenium

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Color Issues with export / other hardware
                  Adolfo Rozenfeld Adobe Employee

                   

                  Since this project has over 700 layers and numerous nestings perhaps I should leave it in ARGB to finish it, export it without an export profile, and bring it back into a new project with the 709 workspace? Or am I just creating too much trouble for myself?

                   

                   

                  As long as all items have the right input profile in Interpret Footage (in most cases, this is automatic. A few video files come in as sRGB, and that should be corrected manually to HDTV or SDTV, etc) you shouldn't have any problems if you change the working space from Adobe RGB to HDTV REC.709. Changing the working space is not a destructive operation. In case you have doubts you can do this in a copy of the project. As I said, if your Photoshop files are (say) Adobe RGB, it's not required that your working space matches that. If AE has the the right input profile, it can handle the transform to the working space. This is quite similar to other options in Interpret Footage like, say, Pixel Aspect Ratio. Source files don't have necessarily to match the Comp's PAR. If AE knows the nature of the imported items, it will handle the differences well.

                   

                  The only way to be halfway sure are calibrated studio monitors with the video signal being routed through hardware vectorscopes before to monitor their actual electrical signal levels

                   

                  I can't believe I forgot about calibration of video monitors, in the sense of feeding a color bar signal, using the blue channel, etc. That's a sign of the times, isn't it? In that regard, for similar studio monitors, you should be able to get a degree of consistency.

                  For monitors or projectors that are beyond your reach, yes, forget about consistency.