Tip: How to fix the QuickTime h.264 Gamma Bug

The Quicktime Conundrum

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

Original videoVideo encoded with Quicktime h.264

Actually, in Snow Leopard, the entire system gamma has been 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 god forbid, 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 to 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 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 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. than those mentioned above.

Step by step

1: Go to http://www003.upp.so-net.ne.jp/mycometg3/ and download the latest x264 encoder. (Current version is 1.1.2)

MyComet G3 x264 Codec

2: Inside the disc image(.dmg) you’ll find the following file “x264Encoder.component” The icon looks like a Lego block.

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

QuickTime folder in the main Library

4: 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).

5: Go to File > Export(cmd+e) and chose ‘Movie to QuickTime-Movie’ as you normally would.

Export video settings window

6: In the encoder drop-down list you’ll find a new one, ‘x264Encoder’. Pick it and render your video as you normally would.

x264Encoder in the encoder drop-down list

Now your exported movie should look just fine. Easy as pie :)

7 (Optional): Now, if you want to go the geek-route, and really get messy with the video settings, you can. The x264 Encoder adds a neat little ‘settings’ button below the quality-slider.

x264 Encoder settings window

That’s it!

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


About Ahrengot

Hello — My name is Jens and I'm a freelance full-stack developer. I usually work on medium to large scale projects. React, Elm, Node & WordPress
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10 Responses to Tip: How to fix the QuickTime h.264 Gamma Bug

  1. Tony says:

    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. Thanks for sharing this. Keep up the great work. I love Google.

  3. Harry says:

    Has the bug been fixed in QuickTime X now?

  4. Harry Fear says:

    Has this been fixed in QuickTime X on Snow Leopard?

  5. Raul says:

    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.

  6. Lee says:

    I love you !!!

    : D

  7. ooky says:

    I just tried the “straight Alpha” fix. This led to a choppy playback, as has been noted by many people. So I tried putting the alpha setting to “none” and re-saved it. The gamma stayed nice and punchy and the playback became smooth again! Woo!

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