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Old September 15th, 2006, 08:25 AM   #1
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How to adjust the way FCP displays video? (contrast and/or gamma)

It's normal for video to look pretty dark in FCP isn't it? I'm asking because all my footage looks like the blacks are ALREADY crushed even though I can tell from the waveform monitor they are not. ON the color bars the slightly brighter black chip on the bottom right corner is completly indistinguishable.

One issue I constantly have with DV footage shot on the PD-170 is the weak black levels. Oddly enough on the Mac they "look" perfectly strong because it tends to display the video pretty dark.

Now if I'm preping for output to DVD I'll be proofing my colors on an external monitor. However when editing clips for the web I want to make sure I don't let them go out with weak black levels simply because I didn't adjust them on screen because they "look" good already.

1) Is it normal for FCP to display imagery considerably darker than the actual footage

2) How do I color correct for web-based distribution (ie avoid them looking washed out on other peoples screen) To my knowledge FCP doesn't have any videocard "overlay" controls to tweak the way it's displayed unless changing my general quictime viewing settings (in QT player) effects the way FCP displays. ???
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Old September 15th, 2006, 11:00 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Elliott
It's normal for video to look pretty dark in FCP isn't it? I'm asking because all my footage looks like the blacks are ALREADY crushed even though I can tell from the waveform monitor they are not. ON the color bars the slightly brighter black chip on the bottom right corner is completly indistinguishable.

One issue I constantly have with DV footage shot on the PD-170 is the weak black levels. Oddly enough on the Mac they "look" perfectly strong because it tends to display the video pretty dark.

Now if I'm preping for output to DVD I'll be proofing my colors on an external monitor. However when editing clips for the web I want to make sure I don't let them go out with weak black levels simply because I didn't adjust them on screen because they "look" good already.

1) Is it normal for FCP to display imagery considerably darker than the actual footage

2) How do I color correct for web-based distribution (ie avoid them looking washed out on other peoples screen) To my knowledge FCP doesn't have any videocard "overlay" controls to tweak the way it's displayed unless changing my general quictime viewing settings (in QT player) effects the way FCP displays. ???
Wow, you're going thru the issues!

I am assuming that you are previewing the video on a computer monitor as opposed to an actual CRT television monitor. While you can approximate a TV look on the computer monitor, I would avoid this method on any NLE system. Convert the FireWire output of FCP to analog thru your camera or A/D converter. Then you'll get accurate color and gamma as long as the TV set is calibrated.

You might need to open the monitor settings in System Preferences to adjust the computer's monitor anyway. Are you using an Apple LCD?

A workaround if you don't have a camera or A/D box is the get the Apple DVI to video adapter for about $30. Put it on the second monitor output. It does an exceptional job for such a small item. I didn't really need to tweak the settings at all unlike a LCD monitor I got for the same purpose that just can't reproduce video correctly. It's the easiest way to view HDV in real-time on a TV set while editing. I would still use the analog output for color-correction.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 11:38 AM   #3
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William I completly understand- I would never color correct using what the computer monitor displays. I always color correct out to a professional broadcast monitor (Sony PVM14L5/1 with SMPTE phosphors).

However my concern lies with my ability to tweak video that is destined for the web. If the blacks look strong even though they fall off on the histogram way to shallow- I don't want to output it thinking it looks fine and end up with a washed out result.

I proofed a Displaymate grayscale chip chart and it indeed has good tonal response all the way slightly below 16% black (which is good for an LCD) however video displays considerably darker than it should look.

Is there a way to calibrate the way FCP displays it's video (akin to PC's ability to tweak video overlay)?
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Old September 15th, 2006, 12:23 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Glen Elliott
Is there a way to calibrate the way FCP displays it's video (akin to PC's ability to tweak video overlay)?
No. OS X maps everything straight across. Numeric values in the Quicktime file get displayed as is.

Have you calibrated your display? I recommend you go into System Preferences/Displays and then on the Color tab, "Calibrate". This will run you though a series of tweaks that will get your display if not calibrated, at least to a baseline you can use.

Final Cut doesn't allow you to tweak how video displays on screen...the data is the data and that's it. OS X does allow you to have different Colorsync profiles though.

I'm surprised that you're not having the opposite issue. Macs typically use 1.8 gamma, which looks lighter to the eye than PC's 2.2 gamma. So go through the calibration above and you can set your display's gamma to either for your liking.

From there, all I can recommend is tweaking your web movie encoding at that point. Both Quicktime export and Compressor allow you to insert filters during the web encoding, so you can bring brightness and gamma up there if you like.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 12:30 PM   #5
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I just realized I didn't answer any questions directly

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Elliott
1) Is it normal for FCP to display imagery considerably darker than the actual footage
No. My Cinema Display is very accurate compared to my external CRT. You seem to have a display calibration issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Elliott
2) How do I color correct for web-based distribution (ie avoid them looking washed out on other peoples screen) To my knowledge FCP doesn't have any videocard "overlay" controls to tweak the way it's displayed unless changing my general quictime viewing settings (in QT player) effects the way FCP displays. ???
The export filters I outlined above.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 02:52 PM   #6
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No. OS X maps everything straight across. Numeric values in the Quicktime file get displayed as is.
Final Cut does try to correct for gamma issues... anything imported as R'G'B' may have gamma correction/"conversion" applied to it. The superwhite setting in sequence settings also makes a difference in how R'G'B' is converted to Y'CbCr ("YUV" in FCP terminology).

Quicktime I believe also does some stuff with embedded ICC profiles. I'm not too sure about the details on that.

Your video card also has a look-up table which can be manipulated.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 03:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Elliott
William I completly understand- I would never color correct using what the computer monitor displays. I always color correct out to a professional broadcast monitor (Sony PVM14L5/1 with SMPTE phosphors).

However my concern lies with my ability to tweak video that is destined for the web. If the blacks look strong even though they fall off on the histogram way to shallow- I don't want to output it thinking it looks fine and end up with a washed out result.

I proofed a Displaymate grayscale chip chart and it indeed has good tonal response all the way slightly below 16% black (which is good for an LCD) however video displays considerably darker than it should look.

Is there a way to calibrate the way FCP displays it's video (akin to PC's ability to tweak video overlay)?
Export a few test files, take them to another computer and see if the visual effect you descibe is in the web files. Compressor has a few filters you can apply to files that address some of these issues. I've never had to use them. I usually have more problems with titles and graphics looking lousy.
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Old September 15th, 2006, 11:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver
I'm surprised that you're not having the opposite issue. Macs typically use 1.8 gamma, which looks lighter to the eye than PC's 2.2 gamma. So go through the calibration above and you can set your display's gamma to either for your liking.
Litterally the VERY first thing I did when I got the Mac Pro was calibrate the display (using the Advanced settings) and selecting the 2.2 PC Gamma. 1.8 looks washed out to me.

Problem is the monitor calibration has a direct effect on the way video is displayed in FCP. I've backed it off to 1.8 and while the mid tones look a little weak, the display in FCP looks at least "closer" to what I'm getting on external monitor.

After inspecting both Gamma settings 1.8 and 2.2 using Displaymate and I must say 1.8 is actually a better gamma for showing a wider gammut of off-blacks/greys. I'm learning to live with the slightly washed out look knowing it's giving me a bit more lattitude (ie blacks don't clip as early).
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