Small change, big difference
- From: Mxsmanic <mxsmanic@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 06 May 2012 20:06:55 +0200
I use VLC, a freeware video player, to watch the rushes from my camera and the
final rendered videos, neither of which will play in Windows Media Player or
Quick Time. It's a little bit buggy but it works well enough most of the time.
Anyway, until recently the videos played in VLC looked a lot like those played
on YouTube after I upload them, in that they seemed a bit washed out. Then,
after I had installed the latest nVidia drivers for another issue (which they
did not fix, as usual), I happened to notice a parameter in the nVidia control
panel that allowed me to adjust the dynamic range rendered by the card for
video playback. I also noticed that the default setting of this parameter
placed the black level way above zero, and the white pedestal way below the
maximum (255). So I set the black to 0, and the white to 255 ... and lo! the
images in VLC suddenly became vastly better looking--better than I had thought
possible with the camera.
My guess is that the driver assumes that most people are using cheap monitors
and sets the dynamic range conservatively. But if you have a good monitor, and
you set them all the way to zero and 255, things get much better. The
difference between VLC playback and YouTube playback is striking.
Unfortunately I can't find any way to make the same adjustment in the YouTube
Flash player, so that still looks rather washed out.
If you are using an nVidia card, the adjustment in question is in the "Adjust
color video settings" part of the nVidia control panel.
Who knows how many other settings are hidden here and there that are
interfering with my video quality? It makes it impossible to know for sure
what a video will actually look like "objectively," although I guess even if
you get it perfect, it will still be messed up on someone else's monitor.
This is why I usually don't bother with adjusting image characteristics like
color, saturation, brightness and contrast, etc., unless it's clear that the
camera miscalculated something (turning a white sign to gray, for example).
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