Color Space Tips for Television & Film

October 22, 2014

Color spaces are confusing. Here are some tips for what I know that apply to working with video for Film & Television as an assistant editor.

The important rule to follow is, when importing & exporting video between software programs, make sure the programs are both set to import and export the same color space. If you’re sending video to different companies, ask them what color space they are working in.

– The majority of graphic houses work with the RGB color space.

– Visual FX houses tend to work in Rec. 709

– When importing footage into Avid Media Composer, choose the correct color space that the file was created with. “Computer RGB (0-255)” for RGB graphics, and “601 SD or 709 HD (16-235)” for 709 graphics. The option “Computer RGB, dither image colors” is if you want to take 10-bit RGB graphics and convert them to 8-bit.

– When exporting footage, choose the color space that will be used when imported. For example, a VFX company needing Rec. 709 DNxHD 175x QuickTimes would require the following export settings in Avid.

Another good thing to know…

– DNxHD 175x is 10-bit color, DNxHD 175 is 8-bit. Same with 220x and 220. It’s good to find out if your source footage is 10-bit or 8-bit, and if your finished product will be delivering 10-bit or 8-bit, and then choose the appropriate DNX resolution. For example, XDCAM and DVCPRO shoot 8-bit. HDCAM SR can record 10-bit.

That hopefully clarifies color spaces a little from an assistant editor standpoint.

-Matt Rittorno

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