How Safari and Chrome are Damaging Your Colors and a Very Brief Discussion of Skin Tones

I’d been using MPEG Streamclip for years in order to reduce file sizes and upload times, but apparently, that’s not such a great idea.

Original Master File

It came to my attention recently that the videos I’d been converting with MPEG Streamclip and uploading to YouTube have an unmistakably crimson appearance when viewed in Safari.

Converted in MPEG Streamclip, Uploaded to YouTube, Screened in Safari Browser

And when viewed on Google Chrome, they take on a distinctly cherry red look.

Converted in MPEG Streamclip, Uploaded to YouTube, Viewed in Chrome Browser

Uploading the master file directly to YouTube intially seems to mitigate the problem, but does not entirely eliminate it; and after waiting several hours, the color again takes on a crimson hue in both Safari and Chrome. The screen shot below was made right after uploading.

Master File Uploaded Directly to YouTube, Viewed in Safari Browser

On a related note, I’ve been noticing lately that many YouTubers are starting to look a lot like marshmallows: their faces are completely lacking in color, tonality, richness and texture; many of them resemble forty year-old Polaroids. There are several reasons for this: flat lighting, overexposure, poor white balance and lack of sharpness are just some of the culprits.

If we open up the screen grab above from the Cinematography Database in Final Cut Pro, we can see that the highlights in Matt Workman’s face straddle seventy-five percent according to the waveform monitor, which is  a shade too bright.

Likewise in the screen grab below from Dan Watson’s YouTube channel, where the waveform monitor registers a whopping eighty percent for practically his entire face, obliterating any and all detail:

It may be true that what constitutes good skin tone is subjective, but there are some general guidelines we can all probably agree upon: it shouldn’t resemble asparagus, zucchini, or kiwi fruit; it should have a different reflectance and texture from a computer monitor, a tweed jacket or a marble counter top; if a face is in the frame, it should usually be in focus; exposure should generally not go beyond 70% zebras; and color should not deviate wildly from the skin tone line on the vector scope. But rule number one must always be to get it right in camera, not to hope to fix it in post.

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