Color voodoo

The process by which real life turns into digital video is, by all accounts, pretty arcane. Not necessarily because of bad design decisions (though there are plenty of those) but just because real life is very complex, and our tiny little brains haven’t figured out great ways to capture it.

In any case, color sampling and color spaces is an area that trips up many folks in this field. You’ve got analog ranges, digital ranges, 8bit, 10bit, 12bit, and then you’ve got color profiles on the computer to contend with. has a two part article (part 1, part 2) dealing with color spaces in video. Take a look if you’re at all interested in understanding why your image changes colors when you move it from Photoshop to Final Cut, or from your Mac to a PC. Keep in mind though, that all of this happens separate of the color subsampling step. The detail lost by going to 4:2:2 or 4:2:0/4:1:1 is independent of the latitude lost due to color space conversion.

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