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There seems to be an issue in DaVinci Resolve with the contrast displayed on Macs compared to the exported data and played back using some other tool.

Let's say we grade the footage – we set the levels and export the clip as ProRes 422. Once it's done we play it back in, let's say, VLC and the contrast differs.

I experienced the problem on iMac and MacBook Pro, but I believe it happens also when using Apple Displays.

The quick fix is to uncheck the Use Mac Display Color Profile for viewers option in the settings:

Once the option is removed the preview in DaVinci Resolve gets fixed and looks the same as in the VLC after the export.

Here's the before & after:

It's easy to fix but before I found the solution I spent some time trying to figure out the root cause. Hope this post saves you some time.

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  • Jason Brooks

    Amazing, thanks very much for clarifying this for me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I get clients (not to mention myself!) asking if “the blacks shouldn’t be a little punchier”, and having to run back through the grade adding a slight curve node to every single goddam shot! Cheers, jason

    • Anytime Jason, I’m glad it was useful for you!

  • Jose Santos

    Hi Tom, I’m sorry but have to correct this post. The issue isn’t with data or video levels nor is it with the Mac Color Profile. In fact it’s much simpler and your photos actually show the issue, which isn’t an issue.
    Like the photo from the color management TAB you posted, people normaly set their projects (timeline color space) to Rec709. Which is what you should do in case you are doing a correction for Television. But the fact is, that, when you then view the exported file on VLC or Quicktime (whichever playback software) you are viewing it in sRGB.
    Now these two Gamuts are practically the same when it comes to colorspace, but whereas Rec709 has a gamma value of 2.4(2.35 in Europe), sRGB has a gamma value of 2.2!
    Hence the image looking “brighter”. It’s not a contrast issue but a simple gamma shift from 2.4 to 2.2 and it’s completely normal.

    For this not happen you simply have to set the Timeline colorspace to sRGB.
    With Resolve Color Managent (RCM) you can even set your color space and Gamma individually.

    I hope you don’t mind me correcting your post, but this is a very common misconception.
    Cheers

    • Thank you Jose! This is the explanation I was looking for, but never found for some reason.
      Makes sense now – looks the same when setting the timeline to sRGB and Rec.709 2.2.
      What I don’t fully understand now is that there’s still a small difference when I check and uncheck “Use Mac Display Color Profile for viewers” after setting the timeline to sRGB color space…

      • Jose Santos

        Are you using either ACES or Davinci Resolve Color Management?

        I noticed the following issue:
        When having the “Use Mac Display Color Profile for viewers” off, altering the timeline color space has no effect on the GUI viewer (which is how it should be I believe because what it’s beeing defined is the working color space). But when I select the option of “Use Mac Display Color Profile for viewers” then whichever timeline colorspace I choose will alter the image on the internal GUI viewer. This happens with and without any applied correction.

        I believe this is your issue but I cannot give you an answer at the moment. BUT for intents and purposes even if you are only grading for WEB (sRGB) I advise you to read on the Resolve manual about ACES and Davinci Resolve Color Management and use it! I have been using it and I love it, makes me work with more confidence because I know that I’m seeing the colorspace I’m supposed to be seeing/delivering.

        I contacted Alexis Van Hurkmann and BMD on this issue and will come back to you as soon as possible

        Cherrs

        • Thanks again Jose. I read all the great things about ACES but never really gave it a go – I will definitely check it out as well as sRGB timeline color space.
          Whenever you have any news regarding the issue please let me know, I really appreciate your feedback!

          • Jose Santos

            Tom ACES is more dedicated to Film Production, I would recomend RCM for web and broadcast work

          • Gotcha, will check it out.
            Thanks again.

          • Jose Santos

            Hi Tom, I haven’t heard from anyone regarding this issue so I don’t have an answer for our issue here.. What I’ve done is that I started turning “Use Mac Display Color Profile for viewers” off. That still won’t get rid of that gamma shift, but again that is completely normal.
            i’m sorry that I don’t have an answer.

          • No worries Jose, I will be testing various scenarios myself. In case I find the explanation somewhere I will update the post and let you know too.

      • Jones

        Had the same issue for a while back. Depending on your current display setup the Display profile may not default to sRGB i.g. the new iMacs native profile is (dci-)p3. Hence with the checkbox clicked on the image shown with p3-gamut values, keeping the sRGB2.2 gamma. That is my conclusion on the matter, would love to hear if there is any differing opinions.

  • Ola Faronbi

    Awesome! Detected this same problem with MPEG Streamclip.

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