Inaccurate Scopes in Final Cut Pro Workaround?

Interesting post from Shane Ross about some monitoring problems in FCP.

His Workaround

So we cancelled the output and tried to figure out what to do.

The engineer…my buddy…had a solution. And this is a nifty workaround (Workaround #214 for those keeping tally of needed FCP workarounds to get things working properly) for those of you taking notes. EXPORT VIA QUICKTIME CONVERSION. Make the settings match those of your project exactly. When you re-import that footage and drop it in the timeline above the originals, you will find that the conversion has chopped off the portions that are above 100IRE, and clamped (chooped, whatever) the portions that go below black. In other words, it does what Broadcast Safe should do, but doesn’t really do.

We’ve been struggling with inconsistent monitoring in our After Effects to Final Cut through AJA Kona products workflow. Particularly interesting has been the vast differences between the digital scopes in Color Finesse in After Effects and the digital scopes in Final Cut and haven’t been sure which was going awry. I’ve seen less of a problem in our monitoring using hardware scopes and Kona throughput. I’m not sure if I’d want to do a Quicktime conversion on every element that went to tape, but it is an interesting observation. I hope a lot of this stuff is just a new generation of gear and software and gets worked out soon, but anecdotally I’ve been struggling to get consistent color workflows. Anybody else?

Follow up: 09-15-2006 Martin Baker from Digital Heaven posted a comment at Shane’s blog where he felt that Quicktime Conversion was going through RGB thus clipping subblack or superwhite levels. Which certainly makes sense. Most of the issues I’m chasing seem to have arisen when we went to an RGB codec via Kona 10Bit 4:4:4. Throw in a custom LUT and it’s hard to find your benchmark. I’m still not sure why we are getting different values when monitoring on individual workstations via Color Finesse vs Final Cut it seems like they should be reading the same RGB values. Throw in yet again Stu Maschwitz’ comment on the AE List about ICC implementations

> The biggest problem I’ve seen with ICC implementations is that they
> do precious little to guide one towards best practices.

I almost agree Tim — I think that’s the second biggest problem. The
biggest to me is the lack of a reference implementation. Meaning any
two software apps can produce any two versions of an ICC color
xform. Kinda makes the whole system seem bogus.

And you’ve got a big case of Yikes! going. If these guys can’t get it right, how am I supposed to?

UPDATE: 09-26-2006 Mike Curtis has an extensive post and comments followup on these issues. All signs seem to be pointing to a QuicktimeYUV/RGB conversion issue. I’ll try to followup with a post or point to a distillation of how to work with these issues once a consensus is available.


  1. austin said

    we’ve been having some of the same problems. Throw Scopo Gigio into the mix of variable results.

    A few days ago, I did a network render of a comp and had color shifts from frame to frame in my targa sequence! yikes is right.

    The only way I fully trust right now is Kona ->hardware scope -> deck -> monitor, all via SDI. The only problem is the price, especially for HD.

    In theory, we’re already doing Shane’s workaround in After Effects by rendering to Quicktime, no? Doesn’t really help if the problem doesn’t show up until the render though…

  2. Dale said


    The only way I fully trust right now is Kona ->hardware scope -> deck -> monitor, all via SDI. The only problem is the price, especially for HD.

    That’s been exactly my experience to this point. The only option I see is to stay current with software/firmware/drive updates until some of this shakes out. If anybody has additional insight I’d love to hear it.


  3. I just blogged a link to this, and threw in some other issues I’ve been hearing about in terms of clipping during export from FCP, clipping as a default behavior in AE, etc.

    I don’t know that I have all my facts straight on this issue, so anybody who wants to chime in (here or in comments on my site or email me directly) please do so, esp. if I have something wrong.

  4. […] Apple released Final Cut Pro 5.1.2 which addresses a lot of the problems that I’ve been running into lately. I want to take a bit of time to dig into the extensive bug fixes, and folks are already doing just that, but one change that I was not expecting really caught my eye. A new version of the Final Cut XML interchange format introduced some new elements. […]

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