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Creating a monitor profile for Nuke for accurate colour rendering

Nuke is one of those programs that doesn’t currently have support for ICC colour profiles, so it doesn’t automatically compensate for your display the way that Photoshop or a browser like Safari or Firefox does. You may see “sRGB” in the Viewer menu but without this compensation, it’s never going to match the actual sRGB rendering that Photoshop and others will do correctly. This is especially problematic for wide-gamut displays and, although I have two sRGB NEC 2490WUXi Spectraview screens that are hardware calibrated with the Eye1 Display 2, I’m also not immune to these colour shifts. Certain times it was tolerable and I would make final tweaks in Photoshop but, as I’m using Nuke increasingly in colour-intensive print work, it became obvious I needed to sort this out to work comfortably. Reds are especially effected by this lack of calibration:

Nuke at the left and Photoshop at the right. Everything’s displayed in sRGB on my calibrated sRGB-ish monitor but still there is oversaturation in the reds within Nuke.

So here is the quick process that is used to generate a 100% accurate 3D LUT monitor profile (not a generic “wide gamut”) profile for Nuke to use as the destination rendering intent for your comps. This workflow requires that you have a hardware calibrator because that’s the only way to get an accurate ICC monitor profile that is used in the process within Photoshop. The best way to explain this is with a video and some comments:

My deer in Nuke and Photoshop after applying the calibrated 3D LUT:

Any differences you think you might see are due to the scaling within the Nuke screenshot. I’ve sampled the output and it’s the same between them. might If you missed it in the video, it’s key that you don’t apply the LUT node to your actual output, just your Viewer. So make sure that Write nodes are before the Vectorfield node.

With this one monitor sorted out, this probably has a lot of you wondering “what if you’re using two or more displays?” Well, that’s why I bought these two NEC screens with the Spectraview software/hardware capabilities. It lets you calibrate one monitor and use the white point from that one as the target for the second, so calibration is perfectly synced. That way, you don’t have to worry about involving another Nuke profile when you drag the Viewer over to another screen. I highly recommend the NEC Spectraviews if you need accurate colour across multiple displays. If you’re looking for further reading on colour management, Practical Color Management: Eddie Tapp on Digital Photography is very good.

Update: If you are getting banding in the calibrated display, change the colorspace in/out to sRGB.

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