Which codec should I use for underexposed footage?

Hictor Posts: 380 Enthusiast
edited August 2019 in General

Oh, Codec God @NormanPCN, I beseech thee!

I shot an underexposed video with a bunch of small light sources, and the video in generally dim.

I'm using VEGAS PRO, and so far, all the MAGIX/AVC codecs are giving me results with super crushed blacks. WAAY more crushed then what I'm seeing. 

Am MXF 422 profile also failed. 

I'm currently considering Lossless options (AVI) but thought I'd consult you first.

Note, that I wanna take this footage and re-import it into Hitfilm, so I also have to scratch my head around codecs for THAT as well. 


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,299 Power User
    edited August 2019

    Go with Cineform. You might also need to go into your Vegas Project Properties and mess around with the color space settings. Unfortunately, the best webpage I knew of for Vegas Color Space issues is down, and the official manual is a bit more confusing. Which version of Vegas are you on?

    EDIT Sorry. What's the original footage from? I'm assuming it's h.265, or you'd not bother converting it? Either way, you'll want Cineform or ProRes, because, if you start with highly compressed h.265 and render highly compressed h.264 you'll start killing detail. We don't care about that at final output (since Youtube/Vimeo/Streaming is terrible), but we want to maintain quality in the edit. ProRes or Cineform will retain more.

  • Hictor
    Hictor Posts: 380 Enthusiast


    I'm using VP 17

    I know my camera is CAPABLE of H265 footage, but I'm not entirely sure if that's what its recorded in. Trying to figure out if it did. My guess is no because I'm able to play directly through default windows and not resort to VLC 

    GH5 says....

    1920x1080, 50.00p
    Image Sensor Output 50.00p

    In any case, I'll try Cineform & ProRes

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,377 Expert


    "I'm using VEGAS PRO, and so far, all the MAGIX/AVC codecs are giving me results with super crushed blacks. "

    "WAAY more crushed then what I'm seeing. "

    The second quote is probably the key here... what I'm seeing. Most DSLRs output full range video. Some have an option between studio/video levels and full range.

    Vegas does nothing with levels. It is all up to you. It inputs data unaltered/adjusted and outputs whatever your data is. Again Vegas does not "know" and does not care about levels. That is your job. In Vegas when you output to a computer monitor device it will only display "properly" if the data is full range. Computer monitors are always full range. Vegas does support video monitor devices. Those are typically studio levels but may go both ways. So if you have a PC viewer and a video monitor device the display will be different on both due to levels. Calibration not relevant for this discussion.

    Well AVC encoder output marks the result file as studio levels. If you feed the encode with full range data the playback will clip/crush your blacks and whites. Actually most all encoders in Vegas assume studio levels and mark the output as such. Actually the encoders do not care about levels. Data is data. It is just numbers. The actual meaning of the data is your problem. You are expected know the output of your video source and the expectations of the encoder. The later has crappy docs in Vegas. In the current codecs we use just assume studio levels for output.

    Contrast this with Hitfilm. It tries to hide the whole full.studio levels mess the industry created for us. Hitfilm tries to convert all input to full range on import. So a full range camera is unchanged on import and a studio camera is expanded to full range. Your viewer should thus always be accurate. Hitfilm only support computer monitors at this time. On export Hitfilm will do an auto transform to studio levels so your playback will be fine. On export there are exceptions. Image sequences are exported full range.