Color Correcting for Web Videos...why use a monitor?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by budha, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. budha macrumors member

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    #1
    Hey guys,

    I'm starting to learn how to color correct better, and I always hear that you need to have a separate monitor that shows "true" color of what it will look like on a T.V.

    Now if I am just uploading my projects to the web, does this still matter? I use a MacBook Pro for my screen, so I take it that I have a very high quality monitor that would be capable of such a thing.

    Last thing, lets say my MBP monitor is not "perfect", can it still pull off a decent correction if I needed to use it because of a budget?

    I appreciate the help.
     
  2. cpcarrot macrumors member

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    #2
    I guess the starting point for all these things is, what do you know, what do you want to achieve and what tools are you planning to use to achieve it?

    But in simple terms:

    Macbook Pro Monitor = Not very accurate. What you are refereeing to in your post is a broadcast quality display that will give you very accurate color reproduction and the display on your Macbook Pro is not even close to this.

    Now how much you “need” or more accurately “want” a highly accurate display depends on what you are seeking to achieve and with what tools. If your planning on using something like Apple Color or any similar “high end” Color grading tool your not going to be able to easily run it on your Macbook Pro (you need 2 monitors for Apple Color) and what you can do with it will be limited without an accurate reference monitor. You will still be able to improve the quality of your footage – especially if you can teach yourself to rely on the scopes rather than what you see on the screen and espcailly if all your really concerned about is a bit of white balance correction – but you certainly are not going to come close to reaching it’s full potential.
     
  3. huntercr macrumors 65816

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    #3
    Some other people might disagree here, but my take on this is:

    Delivery on the Web in general you are supposed to assume the sRGB profile. So you shouldn't need to use a TV, just make sure the system you use is properly calibrated for sRGB. Like you said, if you're on a budget, you can get away with what will get you most of the way there.

    Alot of people, particularly windows users with CRTs will not be using sRGB ( despite Microsoft being one of the founders of the standard ) and you might get some issues with people who are at 9000K, but you can' please everybody.

    For a cheap way to calibrate things ( understanding that this will only get you so far ) click on the Display preferences panel -> Color -> Calibrate -> expert mode. Sit back and start squinting :)

    I don't think you can do this on the MBP display though... you might have to get an external display to do that. ( which might make your point moot )

    Hope this helps!
     
  4. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    You'll be better grading on a computer monitor than on a TV-style monitor if it's destined for the web. Calibrate it to 2.2 gamma, however, as I'd imagine 95% of web users will have their screen set up this way.

    One potential issue might be the bit depth. There was a furore over Apple implying the MacBook screens were 8-bit, when they were in fact 6-bit dithered. If this is true of your MacBook Pro screen, it will be far from ideal for colour grading.
     
  5. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

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    #5
    a broadcast monitor is still useful for creating web videos because the canvas window in FCP is still an inaccurate preview. it doesn't represent what the video will look like playing back in QT.

    most people aren't willing to spend the money on color accurate monitoring so they just forget about it.
     
  6. Chris7 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    I remember you had said in a post a while back that crunching your trailers into H.264 for the web caused video to look "washed out" compared to what you see in the canvas, even when played back on computer monitor (hope I've got that right). Recently I transfered an animated Power Point into H.264 using ScreenFlow, then exported it as ProRes, and transcoded it into MPEG-2 for DVD. The red turned a little orange. I know there's too many links in this chain to figure out exactly what caused the color shift in my situation, but could you explain in general why there would be a color shift just by changing codecs?

    Also, I think I read elsewhere that FCP actually messes with the color when importing media because of the way it handles QT files. One person said this would happen even without roundtripping to another app. He just recompressed the timeline using QuickTime Conversion, then re-imported it, and noticed a changed on the scopes (though I think he said ProRes did OK). Could this be part of it?

    Thanks in advance,
    Chris
     
  7. budha thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    Would hooking up my 2 year old 17 inch CRT HP monitor work better than my MBP monitor for color grading?

    You say that the canvas viewer in FCP is not good because it is not accurate, how exactly do I set it to export out to another monitor rather than in the canvas window?

    -Mark
     
  8. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

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    #8
    no, a CRT computer monitor wouldn't be the same thing...

    when you use a broadcast monitor, it is only getting the video signal. it is not an extension of the desktop that you can move the canvas window onto.

    Chris,
    The washed out h.264 stuff was before I got my broadcast monitor. With the monitor, my exports look identical to what I did in Color.

    Why would you go to ProRes (unless you edited the video) before going to DVD? I would suspect the change in the red is a color-space issue.

    Never use QT conversion unless you need something quick and dirty. Always go out QT Movie and bring that into Compressor.
     
  9. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    There's an issue with Quicktime (and therefore FCP) and gamma. (Seems as though it will be resolved with Snow Leopard, though.) If you do your grading in Color on a calibrated computer monitor with gamma at 2.2 you should get an accurate preview of how it will look. There's still a chance of the Quicktime gamma issues rearing its head, but that's something you can deal with if and when it arises.
     
  10. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

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    #10
    maybe gamma-wise it won't change, but your color still won't be accurate.
     
  11. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    In Color, with 2.2 gamma, on a decent LCD, destined for the internet?

    That would be the ideal set-up as far as I can see...
     
  12. Chris7 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I’ve heard not to use QT Conversion before, but not sure why. I’m thinking that, once I render, I take a quality hit. Then if I export as QT Conversion using the same settings, I take another quality hit. If, instead I export using QT Movie and convert into ProRes that way (to get the kind of file that will play w/ QT only), it would seem I take the same quality hit. You do this professionally, so I’m sure you are right that this workflow is better, but I just don’t understand why.
    Kieth and Bigboss (or anyone else):
    I’m grading using the native FCP color correction, not Color. Thanks largely to the people’s help here, I understand the necessity of using an external monitor (such as MXO plus ACD) for creating videos that will be played on a TV, but I do not have one as of yet. But for progressive scan videos that are to be played back on the computer screen anyway, I’m having a hard time understanding why an external monitor would be more accurate than the canvas. On a Larry Jordan tutorial from lynda.com., he's saying that Mac’s default gamma setting it 1.8, whereas PC’s default gamma is 2.2.
    http://www.lynda.com/home/DisplayCourse.aspx?lpk2=298 (you don't need a subscription to see, it's half way into 1.Definitions>Levels)

    So, to compensate, FCP actually uses a gamma of 2.2 in the Canvas, even if the main OS system settings are kept at the default 1.8. So it would seem that a QT video played back on QT Player would naturally look lighter than it did in the canvas. If that video were played back on a PC (which has a default gamma of 2.2), or the Mac system preferences were set so that the monitor displayed at a gamma of 2.2, would it perhaps look right (“right” here meaning like it did in the canvas, when the system preferences were set to the default 1.8)? Or is there perhaps another factor that might make video in the canvas and video transcoded into a QT file and played in QT Player look different?

    If I transcode into MPEG-2 and make DVD, then play it back on a computer monitor (rather than a TV), is there any reason that it should look different from a video that was made into a QT file for QT Player? That is – does simply changing form ProRes to MPEG-2 alter the colorspace in a way that compressing into a QT file for QT Player does not?

    Also, Larry Jordan is saying that "ColorSync settings are not used by FCP for automatic color calibration or compensation of any kind," but then goes on to show how to calibrate your main monitor using the SyncMaster, Display Calibrater Assistant (Apple>SystemPreferences>Displays>Color>Calibrate)
    Any guess as to what he's talking about?

    I’m brand new at grading, so I appreciate your help here.

    -Chris
     
  13. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

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    #13
    the preview window in Color is not color-accurate... it is simply a preview.

    Chris:
    It isn't simply a gamma issue... the color space of computer monitors are not the same as TVs/Broadcast monitors. When you convert for the web, adjustments are made so that it'll look correct on a computer. But if you don't start from an accurate source, the corrections come out wrong.
     
  14. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Pardon the double negative, but it being a preview doesn't mean it is not highly accurate. When you get the pipeline right, Color provides a very good preview of what the video will turn out like. So if you get the set-up and pipeline right, you can use a decent LCD to colour grade material for the web to a sufficient standard for most people and scenarios.


    Chris7, to simplify:

    Leopard is set for a gamma of 1.8 (the word is that Snow Leopard will migrate to 2.2, like the rest of the world) and Quicktime running on a Mac knows it's running at 1.8 and so compensates. FCP uses Quicktime as its engine but Color does not. The trouble with this is the user knowing that what is going on is going on right, which can get confusing. And add to that that Quicktime itself sometimes gets confused.

    So, without thoroughly checking this out, my assumption is this:

    Say you have some HD footage shot on a camcorder and you want to edit it, grade it and stick it on the web. You import it into FCP edit it, then send to Color. The video going into Color is Rec.709 (which has its own gamma curve, helpfully, but it's similar to the 2.2 sRGB) YCbCr. If you have your monitor set up as 2.2 gamma sRGB (which will likely be nearest to the set-up the viewer has), the Color preview will be pretty accurate. Render it out and cross your fingers Quicktime does its job properly, and you should end up with a web video that looks very much like what you saw in the Color preview.
     
  15. -DH macrumors 65816

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    #15
    IMHO, there is absolutley no need to use an external TV monitor if your output is only for the web or computer viewing.

    -DH
     
  16. Chris7 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Thanks for your time. I'm not using Color, however. Just the native FCP color correction.
    -Chris
     
  17. followme macrumors regular

    followme

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    #17
    If your delivery medium is the web, there is precious little reason to use a TV for color correction. There's still a reigning belief in the pro and semi-pro video editing industry that we need to have a TV connected to our setup when we color correct. Broadcast safe is also still considered a law.

    In general, broadcast safe restrictions are a good idea. In general, color correcting on a color-accurate monitor is a good idea...

    But honestly, is the at minimum $hundreds$ you spend on a professional monitor and a TV really going to affect your web delivery performance? If at all, it'll be miniscule. Only other color experts will notice. I color correct with my monitor, and although it could be a lot more accurate than it is, for web delivery, it's not a problem.

    Besides, I suck at color grading, which is where the real need for a monitor is.

    Just for reference, although "color correction" is often used interchangeably with "color grading," here's the official difference in terms of video editing:

    Color correction: Fixing mistakes in the original video. Removing a color cast (blue, yellow, etc), fixing exposure issues, etc.

    Color grading: Attempting to achieve a desired look or "feel" by altering the color. This includes going for the "film look," giving everything a purposeful color cast, and other interesting techniques used to make the video more visually appealing.
     
  18. budha thread starter macrumors member

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    #18
    I hate to rehash this post, but my boss is now really pressing into me to figure out this issue. I will basically be running the web series from now on and I would like to get the most color accurate solution possible. I have my laptop's gamma set to 2.2 like most people have recommended in the past.

    If I send my stuff out to color and do my corrections there, will there really be a huge difference if I am ONLY sending my videos to the web. Again this is strictly for web videos. I am not doing any type of print making where I need 100% accurate colors.

    Is a Matrox MXO absolutely needed for this type of thing, or can I just get a really nice external monitor like the Dell Ultra Sharp and work with that.

    -Mark

    p.s. Could I just buy a cheap SD broadcast monitor just to make sure the colors look right or will it just not work because the 1920x1080 be too compressed.
     
  19. -DH macrumors 65816

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    #19
    I'll repeat my post from above: IMHO, there is absolutley no need to use an external TV monitor if your output is only for the web or computer viewing.

    An external TV monitor and/or a Matrox MXO would be a waste in your situation. If your output is strictly for the web, use a computer monitor. Know that Windows viewer will see the video darker than a viewer using a Mac.

    -DH
     
  20. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000

    bigbossbmb

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    #20
    without an MXO+ACD/Broadcast monitor you will not have an accurate preview of your video. period. it doesn't matter what the destination is.

    if you can get close enough for web video without it, then good for you. it's really a judgment call on how detailed you wanted your video corrected/graded.

    for most people doing web videos, the cost isn't justified. if you're doing it professionally, then it might be.
     
  21. -DH macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Sure it matters what the destination is. If its only for web delivery and will only be viewed on computer monitors, then viewing on a broadcast TV monitor won't help. You need to view/grade on the same type of monitor that the end viewer will be using. And that ain't a TV in this case.

    -DH
     
  22. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #22
    Personally I'd rather grade on a b'cast monitor and do any tweaks for computer viewing via Compressor (or whatever compression program gets used). This also leaves me a TV safe version because you never know when you might have to burn a DVD or lay something off to tape. The vast majority of the work the company I work for does is for the web but we still make things TV safe 'cause sometimes our stuff does get watched on TV and it looks like amateur hour if titles get cut off or some stuff like that.

    There really is no right answer to this question because there is no right way to view videos over the web on a computer monitor. There's only varying degrees of wrong, IMO. Once video gets something like the color profiles the gfx/photo people have then we can actually 'color correct for the web' but right now it's just a crap shoot. Apple's apps aren't designed for the in-app preview windows to be used for color correction. FCP assumes you are using the default ACD color profile and adjusts the Viewer and Canvas window to roughly simulate the color space of a TV and the preview window in Color can go completely screwy w/some custom color profiles. On top of that Apple has horrible image management between apps so, for example, what you see in FCP isn't necessarily the same thing you'll see in QT which isn't necessarily the same thing a person running Windows will see in QT.

    In reality I don't think it really makes a difference or not. If you want to accurately color correct your footage you have use a b'cast monitor. For web-only stuff no one is going to be able to view it accurately so I guess you don't really need to worry about correcting it accurately. For major problems, like correcting a camera that was improperly white balanced, you can color correct that and people will probably notice it but if you want to fine tune stuff, like adding a subtle hint of blue to the blacks to underscore the somber mood of your protagonist, I wouldn't waste much time on it 'cause it's not gonna come across right.


    Lethal
     

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