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How do I fix a presumably HDR video file that displays super washed out in the Linux video player totem, the cross-platform player VLC, and also in Handbrake's video preview? All colors are extremely muted and gray.

I think the most obvious fix would be some way to fix the metadata, since I'm assuming somehow the colors are interpreted as SDR by every piece of software. I'm on Linux, so I think the preferred tool to somehow fix the embedded color profile would be the ffmpeg command line. But I have no idea what to do for this, I'm not very familiar with color profiles. It's an MKV file.

As a second approach, I want to re-encode it anyway at a lower bitrate, so if there's a way to fix this in Handbrake via a new encode I would find that useful too. However, Handbrake's color settings seem minimal and don't even have a way to manually readjust contrast and brightness for any eyeballed attempt to fix this, let alone any "this is a broken HDR file" setting.

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Was the footage straight from a camera, or is it an edited, finished video?

If it's from a camera, it may have been shot using a gamma curve, such as Slog3. This is where the image is recorded looking "washed out" and corrected afterwards during the editing/grading/post-production phase. If this is the case, you can correct it in any modern video editing software, like Adobe Premiere or Davinci Resolve.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_correction

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  • It's an edited finished video. I assume any video editing software could fix it with some color filter and re-encode, but I was hoping for something that either doesn't re-encode it all, or which alternatively works in Handbrake since there I know good encode settings for an overall good quality in acceptable time which with other UIs I often find very tedious to figure out. I should also note, I would prefer not to buy an editing software just for this one broken file, I assume Premiere or Resolve are not free.
    – E. K.
    Mar 31, 2023 at 22:41
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    Resolve is free, so long as you don't need to integrate external hardware.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 1, 2023 at 7:08

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