Update 2022.01: Cullen Kelly just released a free LUT created to counteract the washed-out look when uploading SDR videos to YouTube and Frame.io. We haven’t used yet it ourselves, but you might want to give it a try. Please let us know in the comments if it works for you.
If you’re still trying to grade using your Mac’s display, then this article isn’t for you. This is strictly for those using DaVinci Resolve on a Mac and grading rec. 709 footage at 2.4 gamma using a calibrated external display for delivery to YouTube. We aren’t interested in emulating Final Cut Pro’s 1.96 gamma with Rec. 709-A or forcing the timeline viewer in DaVinci to use Mac’s display color profiles. We aren’t interested in Safari, either, for that matter. If you use the settings below, you’ll get consistently pleasing results uploading to YouTube for 2.2 or 2.4 gamma displays and your QuickTime movies will look proper when viewed with VLC. The information contained in this tutorial assumes you are using macOS Catalina version 10.15.5 or later and DaVinci Resolve 16.2.2 or later.
The first thing you’ll want to do is calibrate your Mac’s display. Even though you’ll just be using it as a GUI display, it’d be nice if your Mac’s colors didn’t deviate wildly from those of your reference monitor. I recommend using the X-Rite i1Display Pro. Next, go to System Preferences > Displays > Color and be sure to select the correct .icc.
Next, go to Preferences in Resolve and uncheck ‘Use Mac Display Color Profiles’ and ‘Rec. 709-A’ options.
The screenshots below illustrate the difference between using Rec. 709-A with a timeline color space of Rec. 709 (scene) and a proper Rec. 709 2.4 gamma timeline. We’ll be using the industry standard Rec. 709 2.4 gamma for our grading.
The Color Management tab in project settings should look like this:
And here’s a grab of the clip from the timeline viewer that we’ll be uploading. It is not an accurate representation but unfortunately, I’m unable to make screen shots of my 55″ LG OLED!
After finishing grading your project, you’ll be adding a Color Space Transform (CST) node to the timeline. Select ‘Output Gamma 2.2’ for viewing on 2.2 gamma displays. If you intend to watch your videos on a 2.4 gamma display (such as on a television in a darkened room), ignore this step.
These are your render settings. 150,000 kb/s or so should be good enough for 4K.
Once again, the screenshots above are not representative of what our video actually looks like in Chrome or VLC! Now let’s have a look at our clip with no CST (for 2.4 gamma displays).
I’ll leave you with a few seconds each of two clips uploaded to YouTube, one for 2.2 gamma displays, the other for 2.4.