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Using DCI-P3 Color Gamut For Video Editing 

If you have laid your eyes upon the woods of Lothlórien, the desert dunes of Arrakis, or the façade of the Grand Budapest Hotel, you’d have seen how color sets the tone of every film. Color is often used to evoke emotions and set the mood and sometimes, they help to tell the story. 

Continue reading to learn more about DCI-P3 and why it is ideal for video editing. You can also explore ViewSonic ColorPro monitors with DCI-P3 color space. 

In the case of the movie Moonlight, the character Chiron is often seen with hues of neon pink. The presence of the color depicts Chiron breaking away from reality as he faces his real desires. With color playing such a huge part in film and video, it is crucial for videographers to work on tools – from video cameras to monitors – that have the widest color space possible. And that’s where DCI-P3 comes in. 

However, we cannot talk about DCI-P3 without touching on the subject of CIE 1931 – which involves a tedious explanation of mathematical calculations and theories. Without going into too many details, you just need to know that CIE 1931 is an international color matching system that quantifies a measured color, and then reproduces it accurately. The CIE 1931 color spaces describe all visible colors that can be perceived by the human eye. 


DCI-P3 Color Spaces

Most color spaces such as DCI-P3, sRGB, and Adobe RGB are lined against the CIE 1931 spectrum. If you refer to the illustration above, you can see how the different color spaces provide distinctively different color coverages. But what exactly do all of them have to do with video editing and film? 

What is DCI-P3? 

DCI-P3, formally known as Digital Cinema Initiatives – Protocol 3, is a color space commonly used in digital cinema and is the color standard for the film industry. It covers 45.5% color space of CIE 1931 – this means it has 26% more color space than sRGB and only 4% less than NTSC. It is mostly used in color grading projects meant for theater broadcast. 

DCI-P3 vs sRGB 

Also known as Standard Red Green Blue, sRGB is the most commonly used color space you can see on most consumer applications from printers to web browsers. It was defined by HP and Microsoft for displaying images online. Despite its wide implementation across most digital monitors, it doesn’t have a large enough color coverage for professional environments. 

As mentioned in the article above, DCI-P3 has 26% more color space than sRGB. This means DCI-P3 offers a greater range of colors at a more saturated and vibrant level. It can use up to 10-bit color as compared to sRGB’s 8-bit, allowing users to enjoy HDR content in even more colors. Unless your videos are only meant for viewing on websites, DCI-P3 should be your go-to for video editing. 

DCI-P3 vs Adobe RGB 

Developed by Adobe Systems, Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 have a lot more colors in common and are larger than sRGB. They are both usually found on professional monitors and are considered a wide color gamut, which is a new TV technology that offers an increase in color. Think redder reds, greener greens, and bluer blues. However, Adobe RGB leans toward more blues and greens, whereas DCI-P3 goes into yellows and reds. 

The former is technically good enough for video editing, but if you are working on a film of a movie theater standard, then DCI-P3 would be more suitable. Instead, Adobe RGB is mainly aimed at photo editing and print workflows. As it does not carry the same multimedia capabilities as DCI-P3, Adobe RGB is less widely used on gaming or movie-focused monitors. 

DCI-P3 vs Rec. 709 

Although DCI-P3 is mostly used by professional colorists for video editing, it is designed for broadcast in cinemas. As many displays still do not support this color space, it is common for Rec. 709 to be used for distribution on TVs and monitors. Rec. 709 is a color standard developed by the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) meant for high-definition television. 

DCI-P3 vs Rec. 709

As compared to Rec. 709 which has a similar gamut to sRGB, DCI-P3 can display a much wider range of colors and more shades of green, red, and yellow. It is also defined in 8-bit color depth, making it ideal for online streams or TV broadcasts. ITU-R has recently released the Rec. 2020 standards meant for ultra-high-definition television with a wide color gamut – but we will not go into this for now. In all, just remember that DCI-P3 should be a color gamut to use for cinema-grade production.

Why a DCI-P3 Monitor is Ideal for Video Editing?

DCI-P3 is currently not a consumer standard for many monitors since it’s usually used for digital theatrical projection. But with the rise of streaming services and the popularity of highly produced series such as Game of Thrones, The Crown, and The Mandalorian, devices from laptops to mobile phones are adopting DCI-P3 into their displays for a better visual experience. In essence, the line between movies and TV has blurred and DCI-P3 ensures color consistency no matter the channel. To review footage in its most accurate light and color, most professional monitors dedicated to video and film editing are already calibrated with DCI-P3. Whether you are an aspiring colorist or a seasoned video editor, you would want to invest in a monitor with at least 95% DCI-P3 color space for more color coverage and an accuracy tolerance of Delta E<2 for more precise color reproduction and fidelity.

Final Thoughts

Colors are an important supporting act in film. A wide color gamut such as DCI-P3 gives you a larger spectrum of colors to play with during the video editing and color grading process. It also allows you to enjoy Ultra HD, HDR, and 10-bit capabilities to the fullest. If video production and film editing is your main gig, it is important to look for a monitor that supports at least 95% DCI-P3 color space. Even movie lovers can invest in DCI-P3 screens to get closer to a lifelike cinematic experience. 

So, the next time you’re looking at Walter White’s highlighter yellow hazmat suit on TV or acid green hues splashed across the Matrix movies in the cinema, remember how DCI-P3 helps deliver more colors in pinpoint accuracy. And ultimately, a beautiful masterpiece to savor visually. 

But have you ever wondered what’s the difference between color grading and color correction? They are both key tasks in the realm of video editing, and you can read our guide to know more. Or discover ViewSonic ColorPro’s DCI-P3 monitors for your next award-winning movie.