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Apple TV not displaying Aperture photos correctly - not color managed? #1
sddawson's picture
by sddawson
October 1, 2012 - 3:40am

I think I may have posted about this before, but I couldn't find it, so here goes again. I'd at least like to see if anyone else can verify my findings…

It seems that Aperture's choice of color profile for its previews has some rather wide implications. In a RAW workflow, previews are assigned an Adobe RGB profile. In a JPG workflow, previews aren't generated at all at first (which makes sense - no need to create a JPG from a JPG), but they are created once you edit a photo. Then once again, the preview is assigned an Adobe RGB profile, irrespective of the color profile of the original photo. This all kind of makes sense. Presumably, Adobe RGB is the same as, or close to, the color profile Aperure uses internally.

The problem comes when photos are “shared”. With the Aperture preference set to “Share previews with iLife and iWork”, Aperture generates an XML file that can be used by external programs. This XML file points the external program at the previews (or the original in the case of an unedited JPG). Then photos can be picked up in various places:

* In via the Photo Browser.
* In any app via the Media section in Finder.
* On an Apple TV via the “Choose photos to share” option in iTunes.

BUT - all these photos (with the exception of an unedited JPG) will ALWAYS have an Adobe RGB profile. This is generally not good, since the photos will display badly in any app that isn't color managed. Unfortunately, this seems to apply to Apple TV. Photos there have the typically subdued look of Adobe RGB when not color managed. The situation actually gets worse with JPGs. An unedited JPG which originally had an sRGB profile will display fine, but as soon as you edit that photo in Aperture, it will display badly because now iTunes/Apple TV is working with an Adobe RGB profile. I've done tests and it's painfully obvious. This seems to me to be a rather serious shortcoming with Aperture or Apple TV!

Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
October 1, 2012 - 4:52pm

It may be a bigger issue than just “not color managed”. Your Apple TV probably is using a generic color profile to display to your TV. To properly display an image using color profile correction, not only would Apple TV have to do proper color profile translation between the source image’s profile and the profile for the TV set, it would also have to have an accurate color profile for your TV set.

In addition, it also depends on the picture settings you have on your TV. You might be able to set the Apple TV interface of your TV to use PC settings if / when you are displaying pictures. That might help correct some of the color issues, but it won’t correct all of them since your Apple TV does not have a proper color profile for your TV set.

To date there is no way to give a color profile of your TV set to Apple TV. If Apple ever opened up their Apple TV iOS platform to third-party developers, color profiling would be a terrific application to offer. Apple would also have to provide the API to tell Apple TV to use the generated profile, and there would have to be an interface on Apple TV to plug in a color patch reader that measured displayed color patches on the TV screen. If you have ever profiled a computer monitor, you understand what I mean by that. I assume you have given your post.

sddawson's picture
by sddawson
October 3, 2012 - 12:56am

Thanks for the input, Walter. I agree that this goes deeper than just handling color profiles in photos. But I think you’ll agree that the fact that photos with sRGB profiles display differently to those with an Adobe RGB profile is NOT a good start! We need some consistency at the “source” before we can even think about the rest of the chain. One of the main reasons I use Aperture over something like Lightroom is that it integrates with the rest of the Apple ecosystem. But this particular instance of integration is a real let-down. And especially when you get this silly situation of a JPG photo displaying differently depending on whether you’ve edited it. I think Apple TV could at least get this bit right. Safari does, so you’d think the code to do it would be easily implemented. Either that or give us the option to specify the color profile to be used in Aperture previews, but I suspect that’s not going to happen!

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