Imported HD files are too dark

Posted by Paul C 
Imported HD files are too dark
December 29, 2016 01:04PM

Further issues with importing HD footage into FCP 6.06 on Mac OS 10.6.8. Mac Pro.

I have a new Panasonic DVX200 camera. I transfer .mov contents of the memory card to my Mac. I have a couple of programs (iSkysoft Video Converter) and trial of Brorsoft to convert the files to ProRes for a suitable ProRes sequence in FCP. In both converter programs, the clips are noticeably dark when I import them into the program, and then into FCP.

The clips look fine via BNC video output from the camera to a broadcast ref monitor, my TV, and even on the camera's LCD screen, so the footage is not under exposed.

Even when I import an unconverted .mov clip into FCP, it's still quite dark, darker than it actually is.

The iSkysoft converter lets me brighten the clips before conversion to ProRes, but it seems like a low-tech solution -- just eyeballing the clip and moving a lever to get the right brightness.

Any idea why these clips would be coming into FCP so dark?

Re: Imported HD files are too dark
January 01, 2017 05:57PM
What you say looks "dark" and "underexposed" is most likely a distortion in the encoding function, such as an incorrectly interpreted gamma. You are using a prosumer camcorder that offers log encoding and many gamma-like options. The options that are Panasonic-specific can't be included in the .mov file metadata, so FCP 6 can't display those files correctly. FCP 6 thinks it is reading a BT.709 encoded video and plays it accordingly. Lighter parts in the original image display lighter than darker parts, but the scale is up for grabs.

You can verify this by choosing BT.709 encoding in the camcorder's menu. (It might be called "HD video" or somesuch.) That .mov file should display fine in FCP 6. But why limit yourself to this old encoding scheme, which makes pictorially poor use of the Panasonic's meager 8-bits. You can choose any other encoding. If you then apply an appropriate LUT to the video using Red Giant LUT-Buddy (or equivalent), you largely defeat the purpose of your encoding choice. The correct approach is to apply an appropriate LUT to the monitor calibration. See discussion from 2013: [].

If you find this a confusing technological mess, you're right. Even the old BT.709 spec is miswritten. The BT.1886 spec intended to fix it is also erroneous. Welcome to the party.

Dennis Couzin
Berlin, Germany
Re: Imported HD files are too dark
January 02, 2017 04:08PM
i don't know about that camera,
but i'd be wary of those cheaper converters.
is there some Panasonic software you could use the convert the footage to Prores?

Re: Imported HD files are too dark
January 09, 2017 04:57PM
Thanks for the input. Still doing some trouble-shooting.
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