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October 28, 2008 /Region of Interest /

more on color management and image state adjustments in After Effects CS4 and Photoshop CS4

In a previous post, I mentioned that we have a new white paper that explains the new image state adjustment features in After Effects CS4 and Photoshop CS4. One of our more savvy power users pointed out that the white paper and the After Effects Help section about these image state adjustments left some important questions inadequately answered:

The new document is a bit opaque, and upon initial reading at least, fails to answer a central question: Why?

I guess the question is: What should I do to modify my workflow to be even more correct?
1) Set my Project Working Space or Output Module to the display profile?
2) Leave the above at the scene profile, and just enable output simulation to the display profile?
3) If I’m not [supremely persnickety power user], just ignore it altogether for right now?

And by that, I’m just talking “which profile do I assign” – I haven’t even gotten to the Project Settings checkbox!!!

Here’s what the person who wrote the code and the white paper said in response:

The new option to compensate for scene-referred profiles should be checked. This is the “more correct” option. It is presented as an option in Project settings so legacy projects will look the same in CS4 (the option would be unchecked in this case).

For HD/SD workflows, using this option has the effect of turning on Output Simulation for HDTV/SDTV. When viewed, the pixels in the scene-referred HDTV (Rec. 709) color space are interpreted as they would appear rendered on an HDTV monitor while the compositing is still done using the scene-referred tone curve in the HDTV (Rec. 709) color space.

I would not recommend setting the Project Working Space to your monitor as your monitor may have unique (and in some cases quite strange) behavior. That behavior is modeled by the monitor profile and used by the color management system to draw effectively to the monitor screen. However, this unique behavior (like channel cross-over if your monitor is really screwed up) my cause unexpected and unwanted results when compositing. Best to stick with a more “device-independent” color space like HDTV (Rec. 709). Also, if you are sharing projects with someone else, they will get the HDTV profile with their project (it’s embedded) and this may be valuable metadata. “Oh, this project is built for Rec 709.”. If they get a project that has your monitor profile embedded, they may scratch their heads a bit, especially if your monitor profile has an esoteric name.

Region of Interest