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Display color management

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Learn about color management and how it works in Premiere Pro.

What is color management?

Color management helps you to achieve consistent color among digital cameras, scanners, and computer monitors. Each of these devices reproduces a different range of colors, called a color gamut.

As you move media from your digital camera to your monitor, the colors shift. This shift occurs because every device has a different color gamut and thus reproduces the colors differently.  For example, the colors on one frame of a video appear the same on a computer LCD monitor and a plasma screen. All the colors may not match exactly because each device has a different range of color intensities. Color management translates the media colors so that each device can reproduce them in the same way. 

Set up color management

To set up color management, do the following:

  1. Select Edit > Preferences > General.

  2. Select Enable Display Color Management (requires GPU acceleration) from the Preferences dialog box.

Enabling color management in Premiere Pro
Enabling color management in Premiere Pro

If Enable Display Color Management (requires GPU acceleration) is dimmed, do the following:

  1. Select File > Project Settings > General

  2. Under Video Rendering and Playback in the Project settings dialog box, set the Renderer to Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration.

    If the Renderer is grayed out:

    • Check the VRAM of your GPU. The VRAM should be more than 1 GB for Premiere Pro to detect the GPU.
    • Check if your GPUs are current. They may be oudated and you may need to update your drivers from the manufacturer's website (Windows only).

    For more information on Premiere Pro and GPU, see GPU and GPU Driver Requirements for Premiere Pro.

Project Settings
Project Settings

Effect of color management on a project

Color management in Premiere Pro affects a project by displaying colors correctly while using a gamut P3 display and a sRGB display.

Color management does not correct the color and contrast on your YouTube videos. It also cannot help fix Gamma Issues where the footage looks washed out after exporting it from Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder. For more information on this issue, see The QuickTime Gamma Bug

When is color management useful?

Enabling color management is useful when you want to display the color appearance of a timeline on a reference monitor. Disabling color management is useful when your screen matches the media on the timeline. It works well for Rec. 709sRGB, and social media delivery.

To enable or disable color management, use the following table:



Display when color management is disabled

Display when color management is enabled

Rec. 709

Rec. 709

Display is fine

Display is fine, but it is not required

Rec. 709


Display is too saturated

Display is fine

Rec. 709


Display is slightly washed out. Matches what YouTube viewers see on their sRGB display.

Mid Tones match Rec. 709. Some shadow details might be lost*

Shadow details are lost because sRGB encoding in the shadows don’t have the fine granularity of the Rec. 709 shadows. In an 8-bit signal, the 20 lowest Rec. 709 codes are crunched into the 7 lowest sRGB codes. For 10 bit, the 78 lowest Rec. 709 code values are crushed into the 28 lowest sRGB values.

Display Color Management works for both internal and secondary computer monitors used as part of the OS desktop. It shows the accurate colors and contrast that are required for your display to be calibrated or characterized.

Effects of Display Color Management on sRGB based display

Most computer screens are sRGB. Some newer displays are P3 (like the iMac Retina displays and HP’s DreamColor displays) or some other wide gamut color space.

Broadcast Monitors are Rec. 709. Some displays, like the DreamColor displays from HP, can show multiple standards: sRGB, Rec. 709, P3.

Most people edit on Rec. 709 because it is a common monitor. It is problematic because most videos are Rec. 709. Enabling color management makes the Rec. 709 video appear closer than a broadcast monitor. There is also loss of quality in the display.

Most sRGB displays are only 8 bit, so the 19 lowest 8-bit Rec. 709 code values are crushed into the 7 lowest 8-bit sRGB values. 8-bit Rec. 709 codes, 0-6, are mapped to 8-bit sRGB 0 (if rounded to nearest).

Some video cards use floor instead of round, so:

  • 8-bit Rec. 709 codes 0-8 are mapped to 8-bit sRGB 0 (using floor instead of round).
  • The 78 lowest 10-bit Rec. 709 code values are crushed into the 8 lowest 8-bit sRGB values.
  • 10-bit Rec. 709 codes 0-26 are mapped to 8-bit sRGB 0 (if rounded to nearest).
  • 10-bit Rec. 709 codes 0-35 are mapped to 8-bit sRGB 0 (using floor instead of round).

Many displays are “sRGB-in-name-only”, SINO. Although calibrated to sRGB, a SINO display can be off target, since most calibration tools take few samples. So, a SINO display shows fewer details than what is represented in a sRGB encoding.


There is some loss of detail regardless of how you set Display Color Management. Your sRGB display will never be able to show true Rec. 709.

If the destination for your video is an online video channel such as YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, or played back on an sRGB display, you must not turn on Display Color Management. If the destination for your video is a broadcaster, you can turn on Display Color Management.

Here are some screens grabs from an sRGB monitor, showing Rec. 709 video, with Display Color Management enabled and disabled. The difference is in the shadows and saturation.

Display when color management is disabled
Display when color management is disabled

Display when color management is enabled
Display when color management is enabled

Video: Displaying color management in Premiere Pro

Watch this tutorial to understand how to set up color management in Premiere Pro on macOS and Windows.

Viewing time: 7 minutes.

More resources

Does your footage appear different when you export it from Premiere Pro? Come to the community for some real-life examples and solutions.

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