Video Levels

mdindestin wrote on 5/10/2014, 8:31 AM
Part of the problem is that very knowledgeable and experienced users have issues sorting things out. After all this time, there are tons of recent examples.

Exhibit "A": http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/forums/ShowMessage.asp?MessageID=861982&Replies=14

It seems clear that something needs to be redesigned in the software. Start with studying how Premiere and Final Cut handle these issues for the editor. Sometimes a simple dialog box prompt (that can be disabled) could do wonders.

Most of us have other lives and can't devote hours and hours trying to figure this out. When we see experienced experts disagreeing or confused, where does that leave us?

Comments

paul_w wrote on 5/10/2014, 9:35 AM
My 10p's worth

Agree.
The total posts with the terms "video levels" in this forum alone are 2902. Granted not all related to workflow 'issues'.

"Start with studying how Premiere and Final Cut handle these issues for the editor".
+1 and include Avid.

"Most of us have other lives and can't devote hours and hours trying to figure this out. When we see experienced experts disagreeing or confused, where does that leave us?"
In a mess. Too many conflicting views on here (and personal attacks even).

One thing recently pointed out to me, Vegas really is 'out there' and does not operate the same as any other NLE on the market. This is huge problem for newcomers and seasoned editors alike coming from another NLE or video technical background. Once you start to grasp the differences in workflow compared to any other NLE, the mist clears and the realisation sadly is - Vegas is alone. Thats ok if you dont need to work in a team with other editors and NLE workflows, Vegas can do its thing in its own way. But its not working to any video standard i am aware of, full range 255 is not a video broadcast standard like Rec709.. This is also bad for collage students learning to edit with say FCPx who want to migrate to Vegas for example. Their mindset and workflow have to change.

As for me, i am worn out on this subject. We can only hope that SCS are reading and learning - those are the guys that matter as they are the only ones who can implement changes. We can talk all we like, draw graphs, compare results from charts, but its all pointless if changes are not made.

Well good luck. And i mean that sincerely.
deusx wrote on 5/10/2014, 9:52 AM
Who cares how or what Premiere or FCP handle.

Take any video file and open it in Quicktime player, then windows media player, then flash player and as many other players as you wish.

It looks completely different in each one. No matter what you do with levels you really have no real control over what it will look like in the end. Those coming from audio side of things have known about this for decades. You can only do so much and the only thing to get the best possible results is to test your mixes on expensive speakers, cheap speakers, car speakers of various kinds, headphones and so on.

If your final output is for tv broadcast then you just have to figure it out once and stick to that.
Marc S wrote on 5/10/2014, 10:31 AM
"One thing recently pointed out to me, Vegas really is 'out there' and does not operate the same as any other NLE on the market. This is huge problem for newcomers and seasoned editors alike coming from another NLE or video technical background. Once you start to grasp the differences in workflow compared to any other NLE, the mist clears and the realisation sadly is - Vegas is alone. "

Well said. Add to this the fact that Vegas does something on render to many formats that screw up the levels even further and I think there is a major problem that is long overdue for resolving by Sony. Just try rendering an uncompressed, Avid DNXHD or Cineform in Vegas and then bring it into Premiere or After Effects. Your black level will be raised up about 7.5 IRE. How is this helpful to anyone who uses multiple programs to edit? How are we supposed to collaborate with other editors with this type of level shift going on?
deusx wrote on 5/10/2014, 10:42 AM
>>>How is this helpful to anyone who uses multiple programs to edit? How are we supposed to collaborate with other editors with this type of level shift going on?<<<

Why don't you ask Adobe? That is what happens when Premiere and/or FCP fix levels for you.
Marc S wrote on 5/10/2014, 10:50 AM
But the point is that the other editing programs do not seem to have these issues interchanging files between them. Why can I send an EXCAM rendered file from Vegas to Premiere with no level issues but not an AVID, Cineform or uncompressed? No wonder Vegas lacks in market share—it doesn't play well in the sandbox.

My guess is there is some type of flag not being placed or read properly when output from Vegas. I also have issues when I bring an uncompressed 1080p AVI from after After Effects into a 1080p Vegas project—Vegas reads it as 1080i.
Marco. wrote on 5/10/2014, 11:36 AM
Looking at systems like Premiere and After Effects isn't always a good idea. Their developers made many mistakes in the past, e. g. they used an incorrect pixel aspect ratio for PAL DV about a whole decade. Then finally they made it the way Vegas always did and does it.

Just an example.

It should not matter how other systems handle it. It should matter what the correct way to do it is.
That said – talking about levels handling, there is not just one correct way to do. It depends on sources and destinations. And whatever could be optimized in Vegas, there will never be the one and only fool proofed way to do. A system cannot automatically know what part of your video frame should be the reference levels. The editor must always care for this to a certain amount.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 5/10/2014, 12:15 PM
I find no issue with how Vegas handles workflow. To me (and I used Premiere for years before I stumbled on Vegas 3/4), the others are in the wrong and Vegas is correct. IE I'm currently looking at a project & my scopes are set to Studio RGB. I've got blow out whites and crushing blacks. Good. I don't want my software (vegas, OS, GPU drivers & color correction, etc) to "fix" anything for me.

If I wanted all this automatic stuff I'd stop using Vegas & start using one of those packages that automates everything for you. All looks the same but who cares, right? Everybody else does it that way. ;)
John_Cline wrote on 5/10/2014, 5:22 PM
I'm with the HappyFriar on this one.
mdindestin wrote on 5/11/2014, 7:43 AM
It takes a ton of money and time to create high quality videos. We all want every speck of quality (within a reasonable workflow) we can get for the given Mbps, file size, whatever. Something like washed out or blown-out colors is, of course, unacceptable.

So, If someone would please instruct me, I suspect it will help many others as well. In my case, there really may be one best way as far as the filters are concerned. I'm not sharing files or collaborating with other editors or any broadcasters.

Media: I always use 1080p full range 0-255 Canon mov files.

Project Properties: "match media settings".

Destination:
-Vimeo
-DVD
-BluRay
-mp4 on thumb drive for local computer playback

Other:
NeatVideo filter
Text at the beginning and end
Grading entirely within Vegas
External Monitoring

Question: What do I need to do as far as the Computer/Studio filter during editing and rendering?
musicvid10 wrote on 5/11/2014, 8:27 AM
Those are three separate render (the Vimeo and USB drive can be the same).
Each will need compliant 16-235 levels to play back in full range.
mdindestin wrote on 5/11/2014, 9:23 AM
Interesting, thank you. So when do I apply the Computer to Studio filter on all three?

Stay with me please, don't be terse. You're coming dangerously close to teaching me something.
musicvid10 wrote on 5/11/2014, 10:18 AM
The method I teach is basic and foolproof. There are others.
1. Do all your editing, color correction, etc. in Vegas' native preview space. Understand that this is how your final video will be displayed, whether online, BD/DVD, computer, home media center. Of course that does not account for how you have adjusted your device settings. I have no control over that.
2. Add the Computer->Studio RGB levels filter to the output when finished editing. That's the fx button at the top of the preview window. The preview will now look flatter than before. This is what you want.
3. Render.

As for terse, after this many years, I really can't help it. Thanks for understanding.

Our video tutorial is somewhat dated, but the section on levels (at 4:30-6:10) is relevant:



wwaag wrote on 5/11/2014, 1:19 PM
MusicVid10 wrote:

The method I teach is basic and foolproof. There are others.

Tried this on current project and it really works well--so much easier than fiddling with levels on event/track basis. In this case video was 0-255. Question: If video is 16-255, I gather you would have to expand the blacks, else the final blacks would be a bit washed out? And for any sources that were 16-235 already, you would have to apply the full Studio RGB to Computer RGB preset?

wwaag

AKA the HappyOtter at https://tools4vegas.com/. System 1: Intel i7-8700k with HD 630 graphics plus an Nvidia 1050ti graphics card. System 2: Intel i7-3770k with HD 4000 graphics plus an AMD RX550 graphics card. System 3: Laptop. Dell Inspiron Plus 16. Intel i7-11800H, Intel Graphics. Current cameras include Panasonic FZ2500, GoPro Hero11 and Hero8 Black plus a myriad of smartPhone, pocket cameras, video cameras and film cameras going back to the original Nikon S.

musicvid10 wrote on 5/11/2014, 1:22 PM
Watch the video at 4:30-6:10, and again at 9:05. It's all there.
Video was produced three years ago; sorry about outdated portions.
mdindestin wrote on 5/11/2014, 6:57 PM
Thank you MusicVid10. I'm anxious to try it out and compare. I'll watch those portions of the video first.

I hope you never lose interest in this forum. I may not understand all the technical details, but you push my thinking and I always enjoy your contributions.

john_dennis wrote on 5/11/2014, 9:10 PM
@ wwaag

"[I]Question: If video is 16-255, I gather you would have to expand the blacks, else the final blacks would be a bit washed out?[/I]"

In this case, customize a filter like

"[I]And for any sources that were 16-235 already, you would have to apply the full Studio RGB to Computer RGB preset?[/I]"

If all your media is 16-235, do nothing for render to youtube, Vimeo, DVD and [i]Blu-ray[/I] or a flash drive where it will be played on a TV. If you have media with mixed levels on the timeline, it's more complicated, but you need to apply the appropriate filter (or not) at the track, event or output to achieve 16-235 on the final output where legal levels are expected.

My main system:
Motherboard: Asus X99-AII
CPU: Intel i7-6850K
GPU: Sapphire Radeon RX480-8GB
RAM: Corsair Dominator (4 x 4 GB) DDR4 2400
Disk O/S & Programs: Intel SSD 750 (400 GB)
Disk Active Projects: 1TB & 2TB WD BLACK SN750 NVMe Internal PCI Express 3.0 x4 Solid State Drives
Disk Other: WD Ultrastar/Hitachi Hard Drives: WDBBUR0080BNC-WRSN, HGST HUH728080ALE600, 724040ALE640, HDS3020BLA642
Case: LIAN LI PC-90 Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Case
CPU cooling: Corsair Hydro series H115i
Power supply: SeaSonic SS-750KM3 750W 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply
Drive Bay: Kingwin KF-256-BK 2.5" and 3.5" Trayless Hot Swap Rack with USB 3
Sound card: Crystal Sound 3 on motherboard. Recording done on another system.
Primary Monitor: Asus ProArt PA248q (24" 1920 x 1200)
O/S: Windows 10 Pro 22H2, Build 19045.2130

Camera: Sony RX10 Model IV

https://www.youtube.com/user/thedennischannel

wwaag wrote on 5/11/2014, 10:19 PM
I think (hope) that I'm getting a better understanding of the levels question, and the more I do, the more I'm inclined to MusicVid's suggestion of editing in Computer RGB and then apply the conversion on the tail end since most of my stuff entails lots of stills and titles. At the moment, my current projects entail video that is all 0-255, but others in the pipeline are from HDV and AVCHD sources that require at least a conversion on the black end if that approach is to be followed.

wwaag

AKA the HappyOtter at https://tools4vegas.com/. System 1: Intel i7-8700k with HD 630 graphics plus an Nvidia 1050ti graphics card. System 2: Intel i7-3770k with HD 4000 graphics plus an AMD RX550 graphics card. System 3: Laptop. Dell Inspiron Plus 16. Intel i7-11800H, Intel Graphics. Current cameras include Panasonic FZ2500, GoPro Hero11 and Hero8 Black plus a myriad of smartPhone, pocket cameras, video cameras and film cameras going back to the original Nikon S.

musicvid10 wrote on 5/11/2014, 10:38 PM
In that case, I would bump the shadows in the remaining clips up to 16 (at the event or track level) to match your HDV/AVCHD, then add the highlight filter (only) at the output. That prevents tinkering with the bit depth any more than is needed to obtain legal luminance. I might do it differently if the product was headed to PBS.
Marco. wrote on 5/12/2014, 5:50 AM
Whatever workflow you use: Ensure your reference black and reference white levels always stay where they are meant to be.
musicvid10 wrote on 5/12/2014, 8:47 AM
Regarding PBS, which I've mentioned a couple of times lately, my reading of their submission criteria suggests that this is acceptable,



while this is not, even though it "may" be fine for broadcasters who still honor the old NTSC guidelines.



If you add your levels filter at the very end of the chain, you can be assured that it will look something like the first histogram. Adding it earlier, or using the legacy Broadcast Colors produces results more like the second example.
TeetimeNC wrote on 5/12/2014, 9:01 AM
>In that case, I would bump the shadows in the remaining clips up to 16 (at the event or track level) to match your HDV/AVCHD, then add the highlight filter (only) at the output.

And if you also have mixed highlight media (some full range, some 16-235)? Sounds like in this case you will be conforming all to 16-235 for the edit rather than at render? What is the best way to preview this on a computer monitor?

/jerry
musicvid10 wrote on 5/12/2014, 9:27 AM
Same principal as above, but:
True 16-235 is rather uncommon, except with conservative shooters who actually know what zebras are good for, or who plan to deliver their native camera video directly.

I mentioned in the video and in the forum that in this case, a redundant Studio RGB filter is equally a mistake, and will make the video levels play flat.

To address your preview question, regardless of the accuracy (or lack of ) in the preview pane, I make literally dozens of quick test renders as I go to check key scenes in the project. Usually HDV 720p (.m2t) because it is really quick and good quality.

Remember though, that the vast majority of consumer footage is potentially 0-255, so we would like it to look "right" in the preview..
I could really live without an accurate preview much of the time, but there's always the option of a filter at that stage too, if one remembers to remove it.
;?)

I once had a hired gun shoot a stage show for me, who was so conservative that he insisted, against my better advice, on keeping every single sequin, sparkle, and lame' inside 235. What a mess trying to expand that back out to usable levels; a posterchild case for lost bit depth. Yuk!

So, I'll add something to my original thought: Shoot RGB (try to avoid clipping), edit RGB, Render YUV. Preserve bit depth until the very end, wherever possible.

VidMus wrote on 5/12/2014, 3:33 PM
Marco. said, "Whatever workflow you use: Ensure your reference black and reference white levels always stay where they are meant to be."

I have been giving this a lot of thought since the last time we discussed this. All of my cameras shoot from16 to 255 and are the same as putting the reference white level at 255.

So when I use levels to bring the brightest parts of the video down, I am the same as bringing the white reference level down to 235 where it belongs.

Please see my explanation below.

Now, I can use the broadcast filter to clamp the video to 235 but then I will loose all details of video that was originally between 235 and 255. In some situations this can create a very bad video!

Case in point. A video of an elderly man at a podium with poor lighting such that most of the light is on top of his head and not enough on his face. The man has thin white hair that allows parts of his skin to show through. The camera exposure will be such that most of the top of his head will be between 235 and 255. If I use the broadcast filter to clamp the parts of the video above 235, the top of his head will be a white blob. And that will look bad! If I use the levels to 'compress' the brightest parts of the video down to 235 THEN the details will be preserved and the video will look great!

All of this of course depends on the top of his head being between 235 and 255. If any portion of his head is above 255 then those details are already lost and cannot be recovered. I can watch the zebra's to make sure of my exposure and all BUT too much compensation of the exposure can make for an overall too dark video. Especially where his face is. The top of his head is normal and his face and other areas are dark? No thanks!

So I have to compromise at times and choose what is best considering the poor lighting situation. And I cannot always add some fill light to make it correct either. In a Church setting, if I add a fill light, I will probably get kicked out. Same with theater.

There are so many crazy situations to deal with. One must know what their cameras shoot and deal with them accordingly. You will not find a one size fits all solution. A true professional knows how to deal with the many different situations that can happen. Even then, a situation can sneak up that can even bite a professional.

With reference white at 235 where it belongs the areas above 235 are for overshoot from misc. stuff like a bright reflection from an object, filter overshoot from the sharpness filter and so on. I feel that my cameras are raising the reference white to 255 because main parts of the image can easily be at that level.

When I really think about that, that is a bit goofy but since the auto exposure likes to put the brightest parts of the video all the way up to 255 (above 235) then I have to look at it that way. And there are many times when auto exposure is the ONLY way I can shoot the video. A Church with indoor and outdoor lighting with the out door light varying all of the time on a partly cloudy day and one person running three cameras in different locations. I simply cannot be at all three cameras to re-adjust them for the sudden and unexpected light changes.

The final video will not exceed 235 and not be less that 16 with the exception of the overshoot areas.

Anyway, these are my thoughts on this.

musicvid10 wrote on 5/12/2014, 3:54 PM
Try to keep any useful highlights (top of head) just below 255 when shooting, and the rest becomes a lot easier. Let the pure glare reflections go as there is no useful information. A little baby powder can keep bald heads from becoming white glare.