Adobe still can’t get XAVC levels right!

I’m often asked at the various workshops I run why I don’t grade in Adobe Premiere. Here’s why – they can’t even get basic import levels right.

Below are two screen grabs. The first is from Adobe Premiere CC 2019 and shows an ungraded, as shot, HLG clip. Shot with a Sony Z280 (love that little camera). Note how the clip appears over grossly exposed with a nuclear looking sky and clipped snow, it doesn’t look nice. Also note that the waveform suggest the clips peak levels exceed 110%. Now I know for a fact that if you shoot HLG with any Sony camera white will never exceed 100%.

Adobe-HLG1c-1024x626 Adobe still can't get XAVC levels right!
Incorrect levels with an XAVC clip in Adobe Premier. Click on the image to view a larger version.

The second screen grab is from DaVinci Resolve and it shows the same clip. Note how in Resolve that although bright the clip certainly doesn’t look over exposed as it does in Premiere. Note also how the levels show by the waveform now no longer exceeds code value 869 (100% white is 940).¬† These are the correct and expected levels, this is how the clip is supposed to look. Not the utter nonsense that Adobe creates.

resolve-hlg1b-1024x626 Adobe still can't get XAVC levels right!
Same XAVC clip in Resolve and now the levels are correct. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Why can’t Adobe get this right. This problem has existed for ages and it really screws up your footage. If you are using S-Log and you try to add a LUT then things get even worse as the LUT expects the correct levels, not these totally incorrect levels.

Take the SDI or raw out from the camera and record a ProRes file on something like a Shogun while recording XAVC internally and the two files look totally different in Premiere but they look the same in Resolve. Come on Adobe – you should be doing better than this.

If they can’t even bring clips in at the correct levels, what hope is there of being able to get a decent grading output? I can make the XAVC clips look OK in Premiere but I have to bring the levels down to do this. I shouldn’t have to. I exposed it right when I shot it so I expect it to look right in my edit software.

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9 thoughts on “Adobe still can’t get XAVC levels right!”

  1. WOW and here I thought I’ve been doing something wrong! I always knew something was off but assumed it was an error in my workflow. Thanks for this and hopefully Adobe decides to do something about it.

  2. Thank you Alister for this post, I was going crazy(er) trying to make Premiere correctly process my Z90 and FS7 footage. I am switching to Resolve for my native editing and colour correction. At $500 per year, Adobe needs to seriously step up their game for video. It is virtually impossible to produce HDR projects in Premiere.
    BTW: I love my Z90! I spent the summer in Southern Utah and Arizona in many national parks. The subtleties in hues and saturation the Z90 (and FS7) can resolve is amazing! Thanks again Alister.

    1. It just look a little over exposed to me. I don’t know which gamma they used, but in my experience the camera has a very good roll off.

  3. I noticed this last week. We got a used FS5 from BH, and when shooting S-Log 2, the LUT used made the sky an almost greenish tint. At first i thought it was the camera, but i did other test with the Small HD monitor and i did not see that tint.

  4. Alister, have you seen this? Gerald is saying Sony records S-Log to not only a different range (legal vs full) internally vs externally (on an A73) but also that the gamut is affected. He also says it can be circumvented by starting recording in a different picture profile and switching while recording.

    1. Well what can you say about someones conclusions about an issue when he completely misses the fact that the external HDMI recordings, according to Adobe’s fantasy scopes, appear to have code values significantly above CV256. Around 2:30 he even points out that the levels of the HDMI recordings are above CV256 – Which should be impossible, but he just ignores it – WTF. Those levels should be screaming out to him that there are significant issues with Adobe Premiere – after all it is impossible to have recording levels above CV256 in an 8 bit recording, because there are only 256 code values, regardless of whether you use HDMI, log, etc. But all of this is ignored. It should be ringing alarm bells that all is not right in Premiere.

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