FIX dull colors on Quicktime H.264 Video

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Arguably one of the most annoying things about Apple Quicktime is that when you create a new file with h.264 compression, the colors look extremely washed out and dull. For instance, this happens when you export a file from Shake, After Effects, or other compositing programs. For the last year, I always thought it had to do with the h.264 compression that produced the dullness. However, when I played the same file with VLC player, the image looked fantastic. It never made sense, so I decided to revisit the issue and lo and behold there IS a solution to fix this.

  1. First and foremost, you need Apple Quicktime PRO.
  2. Open the QuickTime/h.264 file.
  3. Select “Window -> Show Movie Properties“.
  4. Select the video track, then click on the “Visual Settings” tab.
  5. On the bottom left part of the screen, you should see “Transparency” with a drop-down box.
  6. Select “Blend” from the menu then adjust the “Transparency Level” slider to 100%.
  7. Afterward, choose “Straight Alpha” from the same drop-down menu and close the properties window.
  8. Save the file.

At first, it might not look right, but move the slider on the timeline a bit and you should a much better looking image. Quicktime H.264 washed out colors demystified!!!

Update: 2008-10-11

I just realized that when you save the file above, the http streaming gets disabled for some reason. I was able to circumvent this by “Saving As” another file. But then the playback is no longer smooth.

If anyone knows a better solution for this let me know.

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