Latest post Thu, Jul 14 2011 8:20 AM by Job ter Burg. 113 replies.
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  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 8:03 PM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    tho_wi, I don't get what that proves, actually. The system gamma settings change the display values in the QT UI?
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  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 8:33 PM In reply to

    • tho_wi
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    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    Job ter Burg:
    The system gamma settings change the display values in the QT UI?
    yes. Some half-backed "color managment" is going on here in QT. The Belle Nuit chart (exported from Avid same as source, rec709) displays correctly in QT when the system Gamma is set to 1.8. But it's completey off when you change the system gamma. Whatever is going on here... it is in any case not consitent.

    MC 6.5.3 & 7.0 . Matrox Mini . OS X 10.8.4 . 8x2.26GHz Nehalem . 24GB RAM . Radeon HD 5870 [view my complete system specs]
  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 9:06 PM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    Job ter Burg:
    was merely trying to share some background information about how I found stuff to work. I was trying to point out that you carefully examine all the steps that are in the mix: ingest/Import, color level interpretation, UI display, export options, codec-related color issues. I'm not asking that you share that information with your clients as an excuse, I was hoping it might be helpful to you.

    It IS helpful... really... don't get me wrong.  Knowing what's going on is ALWAYS a good idea.  I'm not annoyed with you (!!!!!!!!); I appreciate the explanations.  I just don't see how I get from there to satisfying my client demands, without a stack of truly hideous workarounds.  And I'm intensely frustrated -- can you tell? [:'(] -- that the system I prefer has (understandable now, thanks) "problems" with the standard requested delivery formats.*  And the edit platform I dislike has managed to work around the inconsistencies of those formats... at least to the degree that it provides a consistent** result within its own closed universe.  

    (*It's fair to say those "problems" are inherent to those formats... but problems can be fixed.  Even by people who didn't cause them.  Even if it means installing something that otherwise wouldn't be necessary.)

    (**Note my qualifications on the use of this word later.)

     

    Job ter Burg:
    Again, try to import the Belle Nuit chart in FCP and tell if it looks right on the WFM (it won't). Export it to ProRes and see what happens.

    I've already done that, and yes, I see what's happening.  But it's not cumulative on round-tripping in & out of FCP, which means FCP has some pre-processing to ensure that doesn't happen.  The shift happens once, and once only, no matter how many round-trips you go through.  So it CAN be canceled out.  If FCP and After Effects can do it, I'd like to see Avid build the same capability into MC.  That's all.  Does it suck that Avid would have to do that?  Sure.  But it has to give us that ability.  I'm not saying Avid has to screw up everything... there just needs to be a feature that tames ProRes.

    If I'm right -- if that shift of levels (and the fact that the amount of shift changes from one version of QT to the next) is something that was intentionally added to make Quicktime look better on each generation of Apple displays, then in retrospect it would have been a LOT better to build correcting circuitry into their monitors to change the response at the screen, not in Quicktime.  It's a crazy Rube Goldberg fix, if it's intentional.  But we're stuck with it.

     

     

    Job ter Burg:
    If this is going to be about assumptions, I'm going to have to pass.

    Well, it's not an assumption that Avid can remap levels on output.  And, at its essence, that's all we're talking about: adding a pre-processing pass to remap levels before the file gets passed to QT encoder.  It's technically possible.  Clearly FCP does it... otherwise the gamma shift would be cumulative when you round-trip in Final Cut.  As for my guess about WHY Avid hasn't done this, I did present that as conjecture.  I said it sounds like a political decision.  Editors want to be able to deliver predictable results in ProRes...Avid's in the business of serving editor needs...it hasn't happened...I still say it sounds political.

     

    What's not conjecture... what's fact is this:

    Apple is a very closed ecosystem, where everything is designed with an all-Apple environment in mind. As part of that ecosystem, ProRes includes flaws that may be intentional or unintentional, but FCP is designed to generate a consistent (Note: I did not say "accurate" ... merely "consistent") result using ProRes.

    Apple has no reason to assist Avid; they're staunch competitors.

    Avid has no reason to make Apple look better; they're staunch competitors.

    Avid believes in maintaining accurate, unchanging signal flow within its products, and has designed DNxHD to provide a clean, accurate, platform-independent, standard codec.  Unfortunately, it has not been widely adopted/supported outside the universe of Avid products and certain professional video applications (when the Avid codecs are installed).  

    Quicktime, primarily as H.264 and ProRes, has become the industry's most common delivery format.  (ProRes and H.264 are rapidly becoming professional acquisition formats as well.)

    Avid pushes its very clean, accurate signal to the Quicktime encoder -- over which it has no control -- and if the export fails to match the import, the blame is placed on the Quicktime encoder.

    It is technically possible to improve the exported result of the Quicktime encoder.  After Effects, for example, can round-trip ProRes without additional shifts in levels.

    Avid has not implemented any capability to improve the exported result of the Quicktime encoder.  

     

    Moving beyond fact to a bit of crystal ball prediction:

    Avid is increasingly seen as an irrelevant player to editors under the age of 30 or so.  If Avid does not change this perception, its very survival is at risk in the long term.

    Any philosophy that fails to adapt to dramatic changes in the population risks becoming either petrified dogma or laughable folly.  Witness Cray Computer, who insisted on continuing to build the fastest single-machine supercomputers when the world had moved to low-cost, blade-server, distributed computing.  Had Cray continued to pursue being the world's most powerful computer regardless of architecture, they could have thrived.  IBM had its near-miss with death by refusing to see that the world no longer wanted mainframes for 90% of business computing, despite the greater efficiency and security of mainframes.  Avid had one disaster by refusing to let go of its hardware-centric, turnkey system approach (a superior approach in many ways, but one the world eventually rejected).  If it makes the same mistake in refusing to accept the reality that Quicktime --warts and all-- is the dominant delivery format.... if it dogmatically thumps its chest and tells the world, "but you SHOULD use our codec, because it's better!" rather than working to deliver the best possible result from even the worst, most popular codec.... then Avid will fail again.

     

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    A great chef will cook with only the finest ingredients, and insist that the menu change if they're not available.  The best chef can take even lousy food if he has to, and use whatever tricks are necessary to make it taste great.

     

     

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  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 9:19 PM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    tho_wi:
    The Belle Nuit chart (exported from Avid same as source, rec709) displays correctly in QT when the system Gamma is set to 1.8. But it's completey off when you change the system gamma.

    I'm told there is a gamma flag in ProRes files, indicating 1.8 or 2.2  

    2.7 GHz iMac Intel Core i5, 20GB RAM, G-Tech eSpeed RAIDs, AJA ioXT, ATTO Thunderlink, RED Rocket accelerator [view my complete system specs]
  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 9:21 PM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    scott auerbach:

    A great chef will cook with only the finest ingredients, and insist that the menu change if they're not available.  The best chef can take even lousy food if he has to, and use whatever tricks are necessary to make it taste great.

    What if you are the best chef... your media is your food... and MC is your toolset: pans, pots and knives... Could it be that it's your job as well to make it work?

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own systems: 1x Z420 E5 1650 32GB memory quadro K2200, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 24GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

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  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 10:13 PM In reply to

    • hbrock
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    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    Scott, respectfully, you're taking an enormous amour of time drawing conclusions on incomplete information.  All of the information is available back in the 5 pages of posts but you insist on supporting your own theories based on faulty information.  Here are some facts that may help you:

    1.  The gamma flag in QuickTime is a recent addition.  Most applications don't read it, most can't even write to it.  It's one of the problems that occurs when standards change and the solution is tacked onto an existing product.  Go onto a After Effect forum to see what this does to Adobe users.  ProRes works correctly within the Apple world because Apple is able to know that it's ProRes and that the gamma is flagged as such.  Simply sending a QuickTime that doesn't have the gamma flag set can result in unpleasant results if the receiving end decides to make an assumption and changes the gamma on it's own.  You'd think that the absence of the flag would result in consistent behavior.  That would be nice, but it's not necessarily so.  Blame it on "standards" being a plural word.

    2.  Macs used to assume a 1.8 gamma on the display.  PCs and TV's used a 2.2 gamma.  Apple changed to the 2.2 gamma standard when Snow Leopard came out.  (The gamma determines the slope of the transition between black and white and will affect the perceived contrast of the image.)  The QuickTime preference setting for "Final Cut Studio color compatibility" that I keep harping about affects how QuickTime will handle gamma differences and that will affect what you see on your display.  It will also affect what your clients see, if they're using a Mac.  You'll get different results depending on the gamma setting for the display as well as different results depending on how that flag is set.  That's 4 different permutations right there.  Add the settings on an external display that allows you to change the gamma and you've got at least 9 permutations, maybe more.  Which leads to the next item...

    3.  Try as we might, we have no control over how our material is displayed.  Ever watch TV at someone's house and the blacks are grey and the color is way off but they don't see anything wrong?  I know I have.  The reason we keep emphasizing the need to know what you levels are inside the application is because using your eyes to tell you that it's OK is based on the display being set correctly isn't quantifiable or necessarily accurate, especially given what I pointed out in the previous paragraph.  The best you can hope for is to tell your client: "I know that the levels are correct on the file.  If it doesn't look OK at your end, let's take a look at your settings."  If you want to get a handle on what's going on with your display, use the Digital Color Meter application in your Utilities folder.  Open QuickTime, point to a dark or light part of the image and note the values.  Now go change the gamma setting in System Preferences: Display.  Read the same values again.  Oh my!

    Hope this helps.

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    Must think of something clever to go here...

  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 10:22 PM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    Jeroen van Eekeres:
    What if you are the best chef... your media is your food... and MC is your toolset: pans, pots and knives... Could it be that it's your job as well to make it work?

    Yeah, but I'd sure like some sharper knives!  It gets tiring (and expensive for the client) spending all this time sawing through a steak with a butter knife.  Big Smile

    Can the editor do workarounds with Color Corrector, applying hand-built fixes by trial and error until the outputted file finally looks good in QT Player?  Sure.  It's just far from ideal.  And at some point, you just decide it's easier to move to a different kitchen.  I'm at that point for anything that goes to QT instead of to broadcast.  Unfortunately, in my case that's most of my work these days.  I hate that, because I strongly prefer the Avid UI.

    I'll try testing some other workarounds, like exporting to some intermediate file format, then bringing that into Apple Compressor for the export to ProRes.

     

    2.7 GHz iMac Intel Core i5, 20GB RAM, G-Tech eSpeed RAIDs, AJA ioXT, ATTO Thunderlink, RED Rocket accelerator [view my complete system specs]
  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 10:24 PM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    scott auerbach:
    adding a pre-processing pass to remap levels before the file gets passed to QT encoder
    I would personally prefer not to go that way, as it basically implies TWO conversions to get to where you already are (correct 709 footage). That is asking for rounding errors, especially in 8-bit video.
    scott auerbach:
    I said it sounds like a political decision.
    If it is a political decision, it might more likely be Apple's, as they were the ones building QT and ProRes.

    As for AE not having these issues: I doubt it.

    Finally, I'm fairly sure that Avid is well aware of the market position of its products, and the competition they are (and have been) facing from FCP. It's been here for a while, as has the discussion about it. I'm not sure how relevant it is to this thread and topic.
    Media Composer Symphony | PT Ultimate | Win10 HPZ | OSX MBP | ISIS5000 [view my complete system specs]
  • Sun, Jul 10 2011 10:43 PM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    scott auerbach:
    Can the editor do workarounds with Color Corrector, applying hand-built fixes by trial and error until the outputted file finally looks good in QT Player?  Sure.  It's just far from ideal.

    I'm with you that MC needs the ability to deliver "color correct" media without a client monitor when the end product is a file in the RGB color space.

    But from Avid's perspective I could write:

    Can the NLE manufacturer do workarounds with Color Corrector, applying hand-built fixes by trial and error until the outputted file finally looks good in QT Player?  Sure.  It's just far from ideal

    I think most of us agree that the problem needs to be solved at the source.

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own systems: 1x Z420 E5 1650 32GB memory quadro K2200, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 24GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

    A.V.I.D....... Another Version In Development

    www.mediaoffline.com

     

     

     

  • Mon, Jul 11 2011 5:19 AM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    tho_wi:
    But it's completey off when you change the system gamma.

    That's exactly what one should expect when the system gamma changes.  Like Job, I'm not sure why you're surprised by that.

    2.7 GHz iMac Intel Core i5, 20GB RAM, G-Tech eSpeed RAIDs, AJA ioXT, ATTO Thunderlink, RED Rocket accelerator [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jul 11 2011 5:23 AM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    Jeroen van Eekeres:
    I think most of us agree that the problem needs to be solved at the source

    I completely agree that this would be the more elegant solution.  I just think that there's not much chance of making that happen.  In the meantime, I'm just trying to find a workable solution for real-world working conditions with real-world non-technical clients with present-day tools.

    2.7 GHz iMac Intel Core i5, 20GB RAM, G-Tech eSpeed RAIDs, AJA ioXT, ATTO Thunderlink, RED Rocket accelerator [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jul 11 2011 5:53 AM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

     

    hbrock:
    Scott, respectfully, you're taking an enormous amount of time drawing conclusions on incomplete information.  All of the information is available back in the 5 pages of posts but you insist on supporting your own theories based on faulty information.

     

    Job ter Burg:
    As for AE not having these issues: I doubt it.

    I did look at your link, Job.  If you look at the very first Adobe Forum link in those Google results, you'll find this, from Dan Ramirez at Adobe:

    "If you're using CS5, ProRes will roundtrip just fine in all cases except for one. OSX 10.5 users rendering to ProRes4444 will need to turn "Gamma Correction" OFF in the codec settings in the output module. Outside that very special case, we're roundtripping just fine in CS5.... in CS5 we're doing a better job controlling our destiny, so you don't have to do manual  editing to get ProRes to roundtrip correctly."

    This matches the experience all my compositor colleagues are currently reporting with AE & ProRes.  Gamma shifts USED TO BE the nightmarish situation that we're complaining about, but Adobe took the initiative to fix the problem themselves.  They did what I'm suggesting is technically possible: they decided to make the best of a world where a flawed format has near-hegemonic dominance.

     

    The only things that are crystal-clear to me are:

    We're all pretty frustrated about the status quo.

    None of this is going to get solved here.... or soon.

    I'm flogging a dead horse and I'm going to stop.  I'm normally a totally reasonable person!

     

    Thanks for all of the very interesting information.  

     

    Howard: Indeed.  This started primarily as a massive AMA playback problem and a failure of Tech Support to follow through, with the gamma inconsistencies as a secondary issue.  Somehow we fell deep, deep down a rathole.  I guess I'm to blame for that, but it seemed like every answer raised two additional questions.

    2.7 GHz iMac Intel Core i5, 20GB RAM, G-Tech eSpeed RAIDs, AJA ioXT, ATTO Thunderlink, RED Rocket accelerator [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jul 11 2011 7:20 AM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    scott auerbach:
    That's exactly what one should expect when the system gamma changes.
    However, you would expect it to be a DISPLAY setting, that would not have any baring on input or output.
    Media Composer Symphony | PT Ultimate | Win10 HPZ | OSX MBP | ISIS5000 [view my complete system specs]
  • Mon, Jul 11 2011 8:21 AM In reply to

    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    scott auerbach:
    In the meantime, I'm just trying to find a workable solution for real-world working conditions with real-world non-technical clients with present-day tools.

    Most of us are trying exactly that on a almost daily basis. And I'm sooo great full that many on these forums share their solutions to problems making these searches sooo much more easy.

    Sometimes the creation of a workaround, like Adobe made, can create a situation where the creator of the problem is no longer motivated to fix it. I believe this is one of those cases. Apple, in all its genius, is often in a world of its own very stubborn to adapt to what the industry considers "standards", creating a new market of "interfacing to apple" products. For example these guys: http://www.calibratedsoftware.com.

    Practically I know that it's unlikely Apple will fix their codecs but the chaos that we work in needs some form of clean-up, starting at Apple.

     

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own systems: 1x Z420 E5 1650 32GB memory quadro K2200, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 24GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

    A.V.I.D....... Another Version In Development

    www.mediaoffline.com

     

     

     

  • Mon, Jul 11 2011 9:02 AM In reply to

    • tho_wi
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    Re: A month of zero results from Tech Support

    scott auerbach:
    tho_wi:
    But it's completey off when you change the system gamma.

    That's exactly what one should expect when the system gamma changes.

    no, absolutely not. You would expect that it looks different VISUALLY (as Gamma 1.8 displays the same RGB values brighter) - but you would not expect that the software assigns different RGB values to the actual source image.

    In terms of computer color management we are currently in a situation of "dumb" CMMs and "smart" profiles. Output devices are "dumb" anyway. A monitor simply receives RGB values and displays those RGB values in its own color space. If you want so, the RGB values of the monitor are assigned to the incoming RGB signal. As RGB values do not define a certain color (RGB values only define a mix of the 3 RGB triples) the source image will be displayed "wrong" if there is no appropriate translation from the source-RGB to the monitor's color space (and TRC). Color management aware applications (ICC profile aware applications respectively) do exactly that: they translate the RGB (or Lab or CMYK ...) values of the source image to the RGB values of the monitor profile (which works quite well if your monitor is accurately calibrated & profiled). To be more precise: they convert relative colormetric to the monitor profile for viewing purposes. This happens "on the fly" without altering the actual source image.

    Now, to my knowledge this is not how we deal with color in video ... correct me if I'm wrong. In video the source image is sent to the monitor without a prior translation (conversion) to the monitor profile. Of course we do calibrate the external monitor, but we don't use the resulting profile as an ICC profile in NLE softwares. At least not that I know of. Instead we try to get the actual monitor as close as possible to ITU-R BT.709 (or whatever) and color correct our video so that it matches this standard. In any case the RGB values of the monitor are assigned to the incoming video signal.

    ICC profile aware NLE softwares would certainly be nice. But they would NOT alter the actual image data - they would only translate the source color values to the monitor's color values for viewing purposes. Altering the actual image data pushes an accurate color workflow ad absurdum. But that's exactly what QT does (and what apparently also FCP does).

    IMHO ...

     

     

    MC 6.5.3 & 7.0 . Matrox Mini . OS X 10.8.4 . 8x2.26GHz Nehalem . 24GB RAM . Radeon HD 5870 [view my complete system specs]
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