Understanding Color Management 1
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Ronald Sussman

great article. Thank you. we have been dealing with this issue for 30 years. you would think the various computer makers and NLE makers would have figured this out by now. Its very frustrating

Mark Spencer

Excellent article Iain

R Neil Haugen

I did a presentation at NAB 2019 in the Flanders FSI/MixingLight booth on Premiere’s color management. Patrick Palmer assigned then-color engineer Francis Crossman and color scientist Lars Borg to assist in any way possible.

That presentation became an insight over at MixingLight.com later, after both Robbie Carman and Patrick Inhofer had participated in many emails with Lars.

The 2021 and all earlier versions were hard-coded with the assumption that any one needing broadcast standards would be using a fully setup system using calibration set to Rec.709/Bt1886.

So the color management internally assumed *the user* applied proper calibration. And worked perfectly, *if* that was followed to the letter.

They had added a cadged-on method in the 2020 version, to sort of work in HLG and PQ by coding in a process using what they called “over-range Rec.709 values”.

But the 2022 version has a completely new under the hood color system front to back. All mathematical calculations, default behaviors, and user controls have changed.

After realizing this, I posted comments about the new version being color-space agnostic. As opposed to Rec.709 only.

They actually used that “color space agnostic” phrase in a published comment since. Ha.

This is of course a massive change in the app. It has since done things like frequently defaulting to “seeing” log encoded clips as being HLG. Requiring the user to set the new “Override to …” control to Rec.709.

There have been a number of bugs. And some needed color management features and controls are not actually present yet. So working with the 2022 builds have felt like a work in process.

One thing desperately needed is a SINGLE color management panel. I’ve requested this via emails, their UserVoice system, and in person at NAB last April. All they will say of course is it is “under consideration”.

Currently the new CM controls are spread all over, most typically 3-4 levels deep in a right-click context menu. NOT good.

So I’m not surprised your data showed some odd results. With the 2021 and prior versions I could get total agreement between Premiere and Resolve on my PCs.

2022 … too much is still being built.

Scott Simmons

That’s great info Neil. I love, LOVE this idea of a color management panel or, at the very least, all color management controls in a single easy-to-understand place. But as is typical with Adobe and PPro they will introduce something new that is kinda-half-implemented and then it never gets tweaked or evolves. There is a laundry list of these things and I guess I’m being negative when I say I expect color management to follow the same pattern.


Neil, didn’t I see you post somewhere that Adobe is actually removing the color management features thus far to further improve them and do another complete re-write / implementation?

John C

Just wanted to share a solution I’ve found that now actually allows me to edit and color in a fully color managed pipeline with predictable, repeatable results. Here’s the hack: when you’re in Adobe Premiere or FCP, you just press Command-Q, then you press Command-Spacebar and type in “Davinci Resolve”, then press Enter. This unlocks perfect color management. You also get access to world class customer service and a responsive company that actually listens to user feedback. And, a nice bonus, you can cancel your expensive Adobe subscription. Adobe are either clueless, lazy, or stubborn in refusing to offer pro color features but now… it’s irrelevant. Once you get over a small learning curve, Davinci Resolve is more powerful in every way. Better editing. Better sound mixing. Way better coloring. Better performance with intense file types. The only thing you lose by switching to DR from Premiere is the easy integration with After Effects and Photoshop but that’s a small price to pay for all that you gain.)

If you insist on staying in Premiere, the best thing you can do is get a legit external monitor (Sony, Flanders, LG Oled, Eizo or BenQ) and a calibration probe and calibrate it to Rec709, Gamma 2.4, 100nits since that is what Premiere is coded to expect for both input and output. This is the only way to get Adobe Premiere to play nice. Once you do that then your exports look as expected.

But seriously, consider switching to Davinci Resolve. It’s pretty fantastic.

Last edited 1 year ago by John C

“Don’t let your clients use VLC on a Mac to judge your work.”

smh; lol I thought the answer a lot of the time WAS to use VLC. I swear some of the articles out there say that. Classic. Thanks for the article and info!

Last edited 1 year ago by Eric

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