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Colors look great in FCPX.

After I export (Share > Master file > H.264 Quicktime) they look a bit dull: desaturated, less vibrant. Also sort of like the wrong gamma curve - shadows are darker.

I realise compression is lossy but is this expected? Should I over-saturate the video in FCPX a bit to compensate?

I saw some very technical forum posts talking about color-space conversions last time I googled for this, suggesting maybe Quicktime uses the wrong 'matrix'. I am not a video pro but the visual difference does remind me of what can happen with RGB > CMYK and colour profiles in the print world.

At first I thought it was only after upload to YouTube, but the issue is there when I play back the exported .mov too.

Does anyone have any tips or info?

  • related: video.stackexchange.com/questions/10305/… – p2or Aug 18 '15 at 15:13
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    that sounds useful... I should add I don't much care about viewing the video in Quicktime, I mostly want a solution that preserves colours when uploaded to YouTube... I will try the 'gamma stripper' utility and report back – Anentropic Aug 18 '15 at 15:24
  • ...unfortunately I can't use the gamma stripper, it's a Windows .exe file :( – Anentropic Aug 18 '15 at 15:25
  • I will try 'x264' codec and see if it looks better – Anentropic Aug 18 '15 at 15:40
  • apparently YouTube actually accepts ProRes... I might try that too! discussions.apple.com/thread/4529088 – Anentropic Aug 18 '15 at 15:46
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You may need to perform a “trim pass” to export to Rec709 colour space.

See: https://images.apple.com/final-cut-pro/docs/Wide_Color_Gamut.pdf

Matching colors in Rec. 2020 and Rec. 709 masters

When some colors are translated to the narrower gamut of Rec. 709, they may look different. To ensure that the Rec. 2020 master and Rec. 709 submaster look similar, you can perform a trim pass color adjustment on the Rec. 709 timeline to bring all the colors in line with broadcast specifications. When performing a trim pass in a Rec. 709 timeline, you should attempt to match the look and feel of the Rec. 2020 timeline as closely as possible.

Prepare for the trim pass

  1. In the Final Cut Pro browser, select a master Rec. 2020 project and then choose Edit > Duplicate Project as Snapshot.
  2. With the duplicated project selected in the browser, choose Window > Project Properties (or press Command-J), then click the Modify button near the top-right corner of the inspector.

enter image description here

  1. In the dialog that appears, click the Color Space pop-up menu and choose Standard - Rec. 709.
  2. In the browser, click the name of the duplicated project (the submaster), then type “Rec. 709” at the end of the name.
  3. In the browser, click the name of the original project (the master), type “Rec. 2020” at the end of the name, then press Return.
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Your browser/quicktime plugin is likely to blame for inaccurately displayed colors. There's a simple test for this. After you export your master file, re-import it into FCPX. Does it look the same as your project? If so, then don't worry about the mismatch because the colors actually exist in the file as you mastered them.

  • It's no help to me if the correct colours exist in the file but no one can see them. I want to be able to export a file which looks the same when viewed outside of FCPX – Anentropic Mar 16 '18 at 10:42
  • Until the rest of the world adheres to a single set of standards -- you get software developers, content creators, camera/display manufacturers, and distributers to play by the same rules -- you're out of luck. Welcome to being a colorist. xkcd.com/1882 – Jason Conrad Mar 16 '18 at 18:52
  • or alternatively, to be able to preview the altered colours inside of FCPX – Anentropic Mar 6 at 17:56
  • It's been 3.5 years since you originally asked this question. You're still struggling with it. Have you tried my advice? What was the result? Does the re-imported footage match the pre-exported footage? If it does, then the problem is with viewing/decoding or perhaps metadata. If it doesn't, then it's with your color process. Without much to go on, it's hard to help. – Jason Conrad Mar 6 at 21:30
  • You might even go as far as to re-download the uploaded YouTube file and A/B it inside FCPX with your original project. There are many tools available on the internet to download YouTube videos. The one I use is called "youtube-dl" which runs on the command line, and is available through homebrew, github, etc. rg3.github.io/youtube-dl – Jason Conrad Mar 6 at 21:51

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