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Q&A Blog
QUESTION: I'm choosing to use sRGB IEC61966-2.1 as my working color profile in AE. When I select this profile, the AE project colors immediately appears a little washed out. I add an adjustment layer to the final project and adjust the contrast, brightness and a couple of other color teaks to make it look the way I want in After Effects. Then I render it  and the resultant video looks completely wrong, with around 15% more contrast, and over-saturated.

Sometimes I think AE color management should be renamed "Color MANGLEment". LOL. The problem you’re describing relates specifically to either GAMMA or BLACK/WHITE levels, and also potentially your viewing environment in AE.

Read more: Working vs Output Colorspace

What's the difference between Rec. 709 Gamma 2.4 and HDTV (Rec. 709) in AE? Which one should I use for advanced VFX when working in linear color space?

You can use any of those or even sRGB in a linearized workspace, as the gamma in the profile is not used, only the color coordinates of the primaries and white point.

When you are working in LINEARIZED space, your gamma is 1.0

Read more: Rec709 Profile

We've are compositing in rec709 as opposed to the default no-color space in AE, and when we switched to 709, it seems to be quite a bit brighter in gamma and offset.

Something we discovered is that not all Rec709 profiles are created the same - some have a technically wrong gamma. This includes Rec709 profiles that ship with Adobe products.

Read more: Correct Rec709 Profile

QUESTION: Why doesn't Rec709 have a specific gamma?

Rec709 has always specified a gamma, it is shown here:

Read more: Rec709 Gamma

QUESTION: Which would give the best colors? Shooting aRGB or sRGB? And what bit depth should I use in After Effects?

First off, I'd like to mention that there is no such thing as aRGB. There is sRGB, and there is AdobeRGB, but Adobe RGB should never be written as aRGB.

Read more: AdobeRGB vs sRGB

QUESTION: We have shot a movie on RED and are adding some VFX to the shots in After effects. I've read I have to interprete my Raw footage to LOG, right? To sell the composite effect, the added effects have to have the same log-look my material has now, right? Do I need a color profile? What about this checkbox at the DPX-settings "logarithmic conversion"? What is this about?

With Red or film footage it is preferable to work in 32 bit linear for all compositing. You do not want to work in "LOG" space**. 

Read more: RED, LOG Space, and After Effects

I want to address a common misconception. Some people shooting video or JPG with dSLRs claim:

If you are going to shoot JPG or video on a DSLR then shoot in Adobe RGB 98 because it is a wider color space. You can always switch to sRGB later and it will throw out the extra data

This is, quite frankly, WRONG. Being a “wider” colorspace does not make it a “better” colorspace. Especially when dealing with 8 bit file formats.

Read more: dSLRs and Colorspace

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