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The AE Color Space

COW Library : Adobe After Effects Tutorials : Andrew Devis : The AE Color Space
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CreativeCOW presents The AE Color Space -- Adobe After Effects Tutorial



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You spend a lot of time making sure your project looks just right, but if you don't embed a colour profile into your final output, then you have no control over how that precious project will look on other machines and devices! In this After Effects video tutorial, Andrew Devis explains how this works and shows how to set up a colour profile for your project; and then how to embed it into your output so that you can be sure all your hard work will be properly represented on other devices.



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Re: The AE Color Space
by Marco Carbone
Andrew,
tell me something, is this operation do I have each time that i open one new project or it's preserve colour space like the last time I 've used?

Marco
Re: The AE Color Space
by Tom Durham
Thanks Andrew. Great info.





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Re: The AE Color Space
by Andrew Devis
Hi, there is an upgraded version of this tutorial on its way and should be up soon. In short, embedded profiles are only for image sequences which you will re-use in other projects, not for final output. The output profile is key for output as it covets your project colour space to match the colour space of your target platform.

Hope this helps
Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
@Andrew Devis
by Tom Daigon
Andrew - Clear as a bell on this info...


Keny- I installed QT7 from the SL disk when I upgraded a year ago, just didnt know that it was QT Pro. All is well...

Avid DS / FCP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com
Re: The AE Color Space
by Kenny Miracle
As Tom already said - Thank you for the quick response!

Tom - you can install QT7 Pro from your Snow Leopard Install Disc. It's under "Optional Installs"

Andrew - If using a color profile for QT, you said to use the Photo JPEG compression. Is that necessary? I have 2 main delivery formats. QT DVCPro HD 1080i60 (for HD Broadcast) & QT H.264 (for Web Broadcast).

In regards to tweaking the tut - You're tutorial teaches what a color profile is, the importance of it, and how apply it to your footage. That is a lot of info there.

Maybe a good follow-up tut could be about: Examples of how to apply it in multiple formats (as we've been discussing), and what it means/when to use image sequences. I feel really in the dark when it comes to image sequences, and clarity on when/how to use them would be great.

Thanks again, Andrew!

Kenny Miracle

http://www.kennymiracle.com
Re: The AE Color Space
by Antony Buonomo
Very simple and useful thanks.

A



Vertigo Productions

http://www.vertigo.co.uk
Re: The AE Color Space
by Tom Daigon
Never mind. Apparently QT7 has lots of functions and works great with the latest version of FCS3, but to activate QT Pro 7 costs $30 and adds a few more capabilities (like color space I think).
Again, thanks for the prompt clarification of your article. I understand that assigning and outputting the colorspace info is a wise thing to do with all projects. And embedding is appropriate when the images need to be rendered or re imported into other projects.

Avid DS / FCP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com
Re: The AE Color Space
by Tom Daigon
Thanks for the in depth clarification Andrew. In reference to your suggested work flow using Quicktime Pro... On my Snow Leopard based Mac pro the only QT software options are Quicktime X (severally limited controls) and Quicktime 7 (the go to version suggested by Apple for FCP users with lots of control options). I inspected the video parameters options in QT7 and see no color space related choices. Am I missing something obvious here?

Avid DS / FCP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com
Re: The AE Color Space
by Andrew Devis
Hi Tom and Kenny

Thanks for your questions. However, I think I owe you an explanation and/or apology as I have maybe over-complicated things rather and because of this I am presently talking to the Cow about whether to pull this tutorial and come back with another version or maybe even a part 1 and part 2 as I think this will be clearer.

But in the meantime here are some clarifications for you …

Firstly, as Tom noticed, you can't embed a colour profile in the final output if the output is going to be anything more than an image sequence. There is one exception that I know of – a composition with an image sequence and audio outputted to SWF via the File>Export flash player (SWF) – this will export with an sRGB colour profile in a video with sound.

However, to export your own final comps including SOUND to anything other than the SWF file will require a codec that does not support embedded profiles – BUT that is not to say that profiles are no use, they are still essential because, and I quote After Effects Help here – 'After Effects chooses a rendering intent based on the output color profile that you choose. For most output types, the rendering intent is relative colorimetric (with black point compensation); for output to film negative, the rendering intent is absolute colorimetric.'

In other words, you may not be able to embed the profile, but AE is still going to make an intelligent rendering decision for colours based on the choices you have made for a colour profile. So it is still worthwhile doing for every project and ESPECIALLY IF YOU RENDER ON DIFFERENT MACHINES! Because the output will still be a lot nearer to your original intention even if the profile itself isn't actually embedded.

Secondly, what is the embed option there for?

There are times when you create something and want to pre-render it or to make it into a footage item that can be either re-imported back into your own project or used in other projects on all kinds of different machines or you simply wish to export as a footage item to sell – such as Artbeats! Note: this is usually WITHOUT SOUND.

Such an item really needs to look consistent over multiple platforms and so this is where you want to embed a colour profile.

So how do you do that?

For SWF output, as mentioned above, you export an image sequence (as I did in the tutorial) and then, bring the sequence back into AE as footage, pull it into a new comp and – if the output is SWF – you use the File>export flash player (SWF) which takes your image sequence and converts the colour profile to the sRGB web colours profile while in the process keeping your colours as close to the original as possible.

If it is for SDTV or HDTV, there are some other options.

Firstly, export your image sequence with embedded colour profile. If you can use that as a sequence, then the job's done – import it into whatever project of programme is happy to use the image sequence. However, if you need it as a .mov then follow the steps below.

Secondly, open that sequence in Quicktime Pro.

Thirdly, export it from Quicktime pro where the output settings will determine which colour profile is applied. So if you have an SD output you will have an SD colour profile and if HD output then the HD profile. Quicktime makes the choice for you depending on your output settings, but the advantage of this is that you can them output it as a .mov file which will play on most devices.

So, for example, as far as I can tell – Artbeats export all their footage firstly as probably a lossless image sequence with a colour profile, then open the sequence in Quicktime Pro and then export that sequence from Quicktime Pro with HD settings (Photo Jpeg as a .mov) which then has the HD colour profile embedded. So, if you were to interpret the footage it would show a colour profile was attached and thus Artbeats can be sure their footage looks the same across multiple devices .. I may be wrong, but seems to be the logical way to do it.

Then, if you also wanted to offer sound with a footage item, you would have it as a separate file which could be combined in the editing programme.

Does that help?

So for Kenny – set up a colour profile for your project and if possible output from AE with multiple output modules making sure you set the OUTPUT colour profile for each module as appropriate. This is all you can really do to ensure that the final version will look as near as possible to your original on other machines. And, if you are re-encoding at least you have started with a project and output profile that reflect your project such that the final version will still look better than if no profile was selected. However, if you can output your H.264 from AE that would be even better.

And for Tom, I really don't know about Prores, I'm sorry! But what really matters is setting up the colour profile for the project AND for the output module such that the final version reflects your choices and colour space.

Thanks again for your questions and sorry if I have caused some confusion. The real key is in assigning a project and output colour profile unless you want to export video assets to reimport into other projects.

Hope this is some help

Andrew

... because it's all about stories ...
Re: The AE Color Space
by Tom Daigon
Correction.

"That does present a real limitation for the effective use of colorspace with projects that use QUICKTIME, does it not?

Avid DS / FCP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com
Re: The AE Color Space
by Tom Daigon
Thank you for clarifying this important information. I have bumped into a hitch with it. The projects I work on for a variety of clients are all using Quciktime Prores as the mastering and Quicktime H.264 as the distribution codecs. After replicating the steps you went through I discovered that Quicktime doesn't seem to support embedding this information. That does present a real limitation for the effective use of colorspace with projects that use Prores, does it not?

Avid DS / FCP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com
Re: The AE Color Space
by Kenny Miracle
Wow I had no idea about this! Thank you for sharing.

If you export the HD color profile, then encode your video to h.264 for web, does the color profile stick? Or would you have to export each version from AE?

Kenny Miracle
Head of Post Production
International House of Prayer
http://www.kennymiracle.com
Re: The AE Color Space
by Abraham Chaffin
Great information here Andrew.

Thank you,

Abraham


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