The User Preferences Tab

The User Preferences (User Prefs) tab contains settings that affect the operation of Color with any project you open. It includes options for customizing control surface sensitivity, Timeline display, playback behavior, video output, and the bit depth that's used for both display and rendering.

Figure. User Prefs tab.

The state of each of these settings is automatically saved whenever they're changed. If necessary, you can restore the settings to their original defaults.

To reset the default user preferences
  • Click Reset Preferences, at the bottom of the User Preferences tab.

For more information, see:

Media and Project Directories

The Media and Project directories let you control where new files are saved by default.

Figure. Media and Project directories.
  • Default Project Dir.: The default directory where all new Color projects are saved. This is also the default directory that appears in the dialogs for the Import EDL and Import XML commands. Click the Browse button to choose a new directory.
  • Default Media Dir.: The default directory for the file browser. This is also the default media location used by the Import EDL and Import XML commands. Click the Browse button to choose a new directory.
  • Default Render Dir.: The default directory for media that's rendered by Color for export. Click the Browse button to choose a new directory.

Control Surface Settings

If you're using a control surface with Color, the following parameters let you adjust how motion applied to a particular control corresponds to the resulting adjustment that's made.

Figure. Control surface settings.
  • Hue Wheel Angle: This parameter specifies the angle at which colors appear on the color wheel of color controls in the Color interface and the corresponding angle at which these colors are adjusted when using the joyballs of a control surface. This is customizable in order to accommodate colorists who are used to working with different systems:
    • 122 is the default angle of red for DaVinci color correction systems, which corresponds to the angle at which red appears on a Vectorscope. This is the default Color setting.

    • 0 is the default angle of red for Pogle color correction systems, which corresponds to the orientation of the controls of the older Mk III telecine.

      Figure. Different hue wheel default values.
  • Encoder Sensitivity: This parameter controls the speed with which the rotation of knobs on a control surface changes the value of their associated Color controls.
  • Jog/Shuttle Sensitivity: This parameter controls the speed at which the playhead moves relative to the amount of rotation that's applied to a control surface's Jog/Shuttle wheel.
  • Joyball Sensitivity: This parameter controls how quickly color balance controls are adjusted when using a control surface's joyballs to adjust the Shadow, Midtone, and Highlight color controls in the Primary In, Secondary, and Primary Out rooms. The default setting is 1, which is extremely slow. Raise this value to increase the rate at which corrections are made with the same amount of joyball motion.

User Interface Settings

The following settings let you customize the Color interface.

Figure. User interface settings.
  • UI Saturation: This value controls how saturated the Color user interface controls appear. Many colorists lower the UI saturation to avoid eye fatigue and the potential for biasing one's color perception during sessions. UI saturation also affects the intensity of colors displayed by the Scopes window when the Monochrome Scopes option is turned off.
  • Frames/Seconds/Minutes/Hours: These buttons let you choose how time is displayed in the Timeline ruler. They do not affect how time is represented in the other timecode fields in Color.
  • Show Shot Name: Turning this option on displays each shot's name in the Timeline.
  • Show Shot Number: Turning this option on displays the shot number for each shot in the Timeline.
  • Show Thumbnail: With this setting turned on, single frame thumbnails appear within every shot in the Timeline.
  • Loop Playback: Turning this option on loops playback from the current In point to the Out point of the Timeline. How this affects playback depends on how the Playback Mode is set. For more information, see Switching the Playback Mode.
  • Maintain Framerate: This setting determines whether or not frames are dropped in order to maintain the project's frame rate during playback.
    • If Maintain Framerate is turned on (the default): The current frame rate is maintained no matter what the current processing workload is. If the currently playing grade is processor-intensive, then frames will be dropped during playback to maintain the project's frame rate. If not, playback occurs in real time.
    • If Maintain Framerate is turned off: Every frame is always played back. If the currently playing grade is processor-intensive, playback will slow to avoid dropping frames. If not, playback may actually occur faster than real time.
  • Synchronize Refresh (slower): Turning this option on eliminates video refresh artifacts in the monitored image. (These may appear as "tearing" of the video image.) It affects playback performance, but only slightly, resulting in a playback penalty of approximately 1 fps.

Grade and Scope Color Controls

The following parameters use miniature color controls that operate identically to those described in Color Casts Explained.

Figure. Grade and scope color controls.
  • Grade Complete color control: The color that's displayed in the Timeline render bar for rendered shots. The default color is green.
  • Grade Queued color control: The color that's displayed in the Timeline render bar for shots that have been added to the Render Queue, but that are not yet rendered. The default color is yellow.
  • Grade Aborted color control: The color that's displayed in the Timeline render bar for shots that have had their rendering stopped. The default color is red.
  • Monochrome Scopes: Turning this option on draws the video scope graticules with a single color (specified by the Scope Color option, below). Many colorists prefer this display to avoid eye fatigue. On the other hand, it also eliminates the full-color display in the Vectorscope. Another option for those wishing to have color feedback in the scopes is to lower the UI Saturation setting to a less vivid intensity.
  • Scope Color: This color control lets you adjust the color that's used to draw the video scope graticules when Monochrome Scopes is turned on.

Limit Shadow Adjustments and Show Control Surface Controls

These controls are used to limit shadow adjustments and display the Control Surface Startup dialog.

Figure. Limit shadow adjustment and show control surface buttons.
  • Limit Shadow Adjustments: When this option is turned on, a falloff is applied to the Shadows color and contrast adjustments such that 0 percent values (pure black) receive 100 percent of the correction, while 100 percent values (pure white) receive 0 percent of the correction. When this option is turned off, adjustments made to the Shadows color and contrast controls are applied uniformly to the entire image.
  • Show Control Surface Dialog: Turning this option on immediately opens the Control Surface Startup dialog, from which you can choose a Color-compatible control surface with which to work. While this option is turned on, the Control Surface Startup dialog appears every time you open Color. If you don't have a control surface, turn this option off.

Using Proxies

If you're working with a project that uses Cineon or DPX image sequences, you can use the Color proxy mechanism to work faster with high-resolution media. The proxy mechanism in Color is not available to projects using QuickTime media, unless you’re using native RED QuickTime media. RED QuickTime media is capable of generating proxy data on the fly depending on how the Render Proxy, Grading Proxy, and Playback Proxy pop-up menus are set.

Figure. Proxies controls.
  • Enable Proxy Support: Turning this button on enables the use of lower-resolution substitute media, called proxies, in place of the source media in your project. Using proxies increases playback, grading, and rendering performance, although your shots are displayed at lower quality. If you’re grading DPX or Cineon media, proxies may only be used once they've been generated; proxies are generated using the same format as the source media. (For more information on how to generate proxies, see Generating and Deleting Proxies.)

    If you’re grading native RED QuickTime media, you can turn on proxy resolutions at any time, without the need to generate proxy media; they’re generated on the fly.

    Note: In all cases, while resolution may be reduced, proxies are completely color-accurate.

Generating and Deleting Proxies

In order to use proxies while working on projects using DPX and Cineon media, you need to first generate a set of half- and quarter-resolution proxy media for your project.

To generate a set of proxy media for your project
  • Choose File > Proxies > Generate Proxies.

To delete all the proxies that have been generated for a project
  • Choose File > Proxies > Delete Proxies.

Important: The proxy mechanism is not available for projects using QuickTime files, unless they’re native RED QuickTime media. Native RED QuickTime media uses the proxy mechanism, but proxies are generated on the fly, so you don’t have to use the Generate Proxies command.

Playback, Processing, and Output Settings

The following settings affect playback quality, render quality, and performance.

Figure. Playback, processing, and output settings.
  • Force RGB: This option is disabled for standard definition projects. This setting is meant to be used when you're working with high definition Y′CBCR source media that you're monitoring on an external broadcast monitor via a supported broadcast video interface. It determines how the RGB image data that's calculated internally by Color is converted to Y′CBCR image data for display:
    • If Force RGB is turned off: This conversion is done by Color in software. This consumes processor resources and may noticeably reduce your real-time performance as a result.
    • If Force RGB is turned on: Color sends RGB image data straight to the broadcast video interface that's installed on your computer and relies on the interface to do the conversion using dedicated hardware. This lightens the processing load on your computer and is recommended to optimize your real-time performance. When monitoring legalized video between 0 and 100 IRE, there should be a minimal difference between the image that's displayed with Force RGB turned on or off. When Force RGB is turned on, super-white and out-of-gamut chroma values will not be displayed by your broadcast display, nor will they appear on external video scopes analyzing your broadcast video interface's output. This limitation only affects monitoring; the internal image processing performed by Color retains this data. As a result, you will always see super-white image data on the Color software scopes when it's present, and uncorrected super-white and out-of-gamut chroma levels are always preserved when you export your final media. If Broadcast Safe is turned on in the Project Settings, you may not notice any difference in the display of these "illegal" levels, since they're being limited by Color.
  • Disable Vid-Out During Playback: Turning this option on disables video output via your broadcast interface during playback. While paused, the frame at the position of the playhead is still output to video. This is useful if your project is so effects-intensive that video playback is too slow to be useful. With this option turned on, you can make adjustments and monitor the image while paused and then get a look at the program in motion via the preview display, which usually plays faster.
  • Update UI During Playback: Turning this option on allows selected windows of the Color interface to update dynamically as the project plays back. This updates the controls and scopes during playback from grade to grade, but potentially slows playback performance, so it's off by default. There are two options:
    • Update Primary Display: Updates the main interface controls in the Primary In, Secondaries, Color FX, Primary Out, and Geometry rooms. Turning this option on lets you see how the controls change from grade to grade and how they animate if you have keyframed grades.
    • Update Secondary Display: Updates the Scopes window. This is the way to get updated video scopes during playback. With this option turned off, the video preview still plays, but the video scopes disappear.
  • Radial HSL Interpolation:: This setting affects how keyframed color adjustments are interpolated from one hue to another.
    • Turning this setting on causes keyframed changes in hue to be animated radially, with the hue cycling through all hues on the color wheel in between the current and target hues. This results in visible color cycling if you're animating a change from one hue to any other that's not directly adjacent on the color wheel. This is the method that Final Cut Pro uses when animating color adjustments in the Color Corrector and Color Corrector 3-way filters.

    • With this setting turned off (the default state), keyframed changes in hue are animated linearly, directly from one point on the color wheel to another. This results in the most direct animated adjustments and minimizes unwanted color cycling. This is the method that the DaVinci and Pogle systems use to animate color adjustments.

      Figure. Illustration of radial vs. linear interpolation for animated color controls.

How Does Working in Floating Point Affect Image Processing?

Aside from providing a qualitative edge when processing high-resolution, high–bit depth images, setting the Internal Pixel Format to Floating Point changes how image data is handed off from one room to the next, specifically in the Color FX and Primary Out rooms.

At 8- through 16-bit, out-of-range image data (luma or chroma going below the Floor IRE or above the Ceiling IRE of the Broadcast Safe settings, or below 0 and above 110 if Broadcast Safe is turned off) is clipped as your image goes from one room to another. Out-of-range image data is also clipped as the image is handed off from one node to another in the Color FX room.

If you set the Internal Pixel Format to Floating Point, out-of-range image data is still clipped as it moves from the Primary In room to the Secondaries room, and from the Secondaries room to the Color FX room. However, starting with the Color FX room, out-of-range image values are preserved as image data is handed off from node to node. Furthermore, out-of-range image data is preserved when the image goes from the Color FX room to the Primary Out room.

Here’s an example of how this works. At 16 bit, if you raise the highlights of an image beyond 110 percent in the Color FX room, then lower the highlights in the Primary Out room, your highlights stay clipped.

Figure. Original and clipped signals in integer space compared.

At Floating Point, if you raise the highlights beyond 110 percent, and then lower them again in the Primary Out room, all of the image data is retrievable.

Figure. Original and preserved signals compared in floating point space.

Because of this, you may occasionally notice differences between images that were initially corrected at less than 16-bit, and the same images changed to render at Floating Point. This is particularly true in the Color FX room.

For more information about bit depth, see How Do Bit Depth and Channel Data Correspond?

How Do Bit Depth and Channel Data Correspond?

The actual range of values used by each channel for every pixel at a given bit depth is calculated by taking 2 to the nth power, where n is the bit depth itself. For example, the range of values used for 8-bit color is 2 to the 8th power, or 256 values per channel. The range of values for 16-bit color is 2 to the 10th power, or 65536 values per channel.

However, this isn't the whole story. How much of the available numeric range is actually used depends on how the image data is encoded.

  • Full Range: Image data using the RGB color space encodes each color channel using the full numeric range that's available. This means that 8-bit video color channels use a value in the range of 0–255 and 10-bit channels use a range of 1–1023.
  • Studio Range: 8- and 10-bit video image data that's stored using the Y′CBCR color space uses a range of values for each channel. This means that a subset of the actual range of available values is used, in order to leave the headroom for super-black and super-white that the video standard requires.

    For example, the luma of 8-bit Y′CBCR uses the range of 16–236, leaving 1–15 and 235–254 reserved for headroom in the signal. The luma of 10-bit Y′CBCR uses the range of 64–940, with 4–63 and 941–1019 reserved for headroom.

    Furthermore, the lowest and highest values are reserved for non-image data, and the chroma components (CB and CR) use a wider range of values (16–240 for 8-bit video, and 64–960 for 10-bit video).

Auto Save Settings

Two settings let you turn on or off automatic saving in Color.

Figure. Autosave controls.
  • Auto-Save Projects: Turning this option on enables automatic saving.
  • Auto-Save Time (Minutes): Specifies how many minutes pass before the project is saved again. This is set to 5 minutes by default.

    Auto Saving saves only the current project. It does not create an archived copy of the project. For more information about creating and recalling archives, see Saving and Opening Archives.