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Recently, I was reading a wiki, dedicated to one popular cartoon show and stumbled upon an interesting problem: frames from the different regional iTunes stores

From left to right: frames from the US iTunes, Australian iTunes and US iTunes version with CC in a video player

As you may see, it's the same frame, but colours are different. So, it makes me wonder: does H.264 standard / MP4 container supports any kind of colour profiles (like, ICC in JPEG) and if yes, does any player support it? And what about DVD/Blu-Ray disks? Or there is no way to watch the same version of any video, as it was shot by it's creators? Thanks. :)

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

As it was shot by its creators is kind of a nebulous concept, particularly when compression is involved. Color reproduction varies greatly from one device to another and without a calibrated display and a complete chain of color control going back to the source, you aren't going to get exact. Even then, chances are good that somewhere along the line the color spaces won't match up exactly.

It gets even harder when you get in to compression because compression impacts color. Colors are generalized subtly by compression. The more area of an image it can simplify (particularly for things like cartoons) the smaller the image can be. Most likely, the slight color banding that is seen in that frame does not exist in the original, however because H264 groups similar colors together and simplifies them to one, it ends up causing a banding effect to occur.

In short, for a format that is lossy, a color profile isn't going to solve the problem since the color isn't preserved exactly anyway. It might help improve it a little, but there is still going to be color alteration from the compression.

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