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A little update on Final Cut Pro's gamma quirks

Last week I made a post about Final Cut Pro modifying the gamma of clips, causing some to be too dark and some to be washed out.

The washed out issue was the most serious because it only happened upon exporting the movie, and the image looked perfectly fine in FCP. The darkening issue was less severe because it only affected the user's perception of the image in FCP and if they were not performing color correction in FCP, they would be perfectly fine.

I was just going through User Preferences, trying to help someone who was having difficulty, when I noticed a new option that I had never seen before (I don't adjust user prefs very often). In the Editing tab, there is a section marked "Imported Still / RGB Video Gamma". You can choose from Source, 1.80, 2.20, 2.22 and Custom. My research indicates that this option has been there since 6.0.0 but Apple recently renamed it in 6.0.2 to clarify that it is for RGB footage only.

1.80 refers to the default gamma of RGB footage (eg. still images and special effects codecs such as Animation). This is also the default gamma of your Mac display. 2.20 refers to the default gamma of YUV footage (eg. NTSC, PAL, ProRes, etc). Camera footage falls into this category, as do a lot of the displays on Windows machines. Gamma 2.22 is also used by Windows PCs. I would advise leaving this option on Source, so that no gamma correction will be applied to the clip itself. The only correction that will occur will be when playing back in the FCP Canvas, and not upon exporting the movie.

This setting will fix the RGB gamma issue that caused images to be washed out upon export. This does not change Final Cut Pro's handling of YUV images.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Jan 19 2008 to Analysis, Final Cut Studio, Video Editing