Fixing QuickTime’s h.264 gamma bug

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About the QuickTime gamma bug

Ever since Quicktime 7, there’s been a weird bug when encoding h.264 videoes using Quicktime Pro. The gamma is being offset and the colors get washed out as shown below

Actually, in Snow Leopard, the entire system gamma was shifted to 2.2 from the old 1.8, which means this problem, along with a bunch of other color-related ones, have been mostly fixed for people running that OS – More about that here …

However, this does not fix the gamma problem if users with Mac OS 10.5 or Windows, were to see your videos. That’s because the system gamma only affects how your monitor displays content it doesn’t actually alter the content.

How do I fix it?

There’s a couple of ways to do it. One way is to change the videos transparency settings to “Straight Alpha” (Windows) or “Composition” (Mac OS) – And then save the video again.

The problem though, is that this method disables fast playback, i.e. the ability to start playback of the video before it’s entirely downloaded. It also seems like too much of a pain in the ass, to re-save every single video you’ll ever encode with the h.264 encoder.

You could also change your monitor’s color profile, but once again that only changes your own perception of the video, not everybody else’s.

Yesterday I ran into this annoying problem again, and decided it was time to kill that bug once and for all. That’s when I found this nifty little encoder. It cured all my gamma and color problems entirely – And it even turned out to be a much easier work-around.

Get MyComet’s G3 x264 codec

Go to http://www003.upp.so-net.ne.jp/mycometg3/ and download the latest x264 encoder. (Current version is 1.1.2). Inside the disc image(.dmg) you’ll find the following file “x264Encoder.component” The icon looks like a Lego block.

Place the file in: MainHarddrive/library/QuickTime. You’ll see a bunch of other .component files there.

Export using Quicktime Player 7

Now open a video in the QuickTime Player. (If you’re running Snow Leopard you need to find QuickTime Player 7 under applications/utilities as QuickTime Player 10 has been stripped of the ‘pro’ export features).

Go to File > Export and chose ‘Movie to QuickTime-Movie’.

In the encoder drop-down list you’ll now find ‘x264Encoder’. Pick it and render your video as you normally would. Now your exported movie should look just fine. Easy as pie :)

Advanced settings

If you really want to get down ‘n dirty with the video settings, the x264 Encoder adds a neat little ‘settings’ button below the quality-slider.

That’s it!

I hope this relieves some headaches and confusion around the QuickTime gamma bug. Please do leave any comments below if you need something elaborated or I’ve provided wrong information of any kind.

  1. Tony said:

    Hi I just came across the same encoder. It fixes the gamma issue with Quicktime 7 in Leopard and Snow Leopard, but Quicktime X still shifts the gamma!

  2. Raul said:

    Hello,
    is this download available for Windows? XP? 7?
    (I’m assuming the above link wouldn’t be for a non MAC user since it only mentiones MAC OS)

    Thanks in advance.

  3. ulre said:

    Works really well!
    What about the file extension though? I end up with .mov –
    is it safe to just rename this to .mp4, to be used on websites ?

  4. Joseph Torres said:

    This is partially what I was looking for when it came to “fixing the gamma problem” however for videos that are already quicktime videos (already went through editing on FCP and exported)…this isn’t really helpful because I would have to export again, thus, losing another generation of quality and I’m trying really hard not to do that…which is why changing transparency settings to Composition seemed like an amazing solution because you are not required to export another video..you just save it and thats that. Is there any possible way to change the gamma without losing quality?