HEVC/4K playback washed out colors ??


So I have a couple of HEVC/4K movies in my plex library, when I play any of the movies on my iMac via PMP the colors look normal as it should, vibrant colors, but when I play it on my appletv PMP colors are washed out, I tried it on a roku, PS4 and iPad Pro PMP and they all washed out. The only device beside my iMac that plays the 4K movies with correct colors its a vizio 4K tv with the built in PMP. Is this a bug ? Transcoding issue ? I will post a picture of this issue.

Plex and 4K files, strange behavior and lucky playing on Apple TV?

This isn’t a bug. If Plex is either transcoding an HDR video, or playing an HDR video to a device that doesn’t support HDR it will look washed out. Basically Plex would need to tone map the 10 bit HEVC/HDR files for a non-HDR display. There’s another thread with some more conversation about it here:



@ShaGe well that doesn’t make sense, my 4K movies don’t have any HDR, my iMac doesn’t support HDR, my vizio 4K doesn’t support HDR… and actually my iPad Pro is the only one that supports HDR and still looks washed out. I think Plex needs to look this up and put a fix to it, why is only on my iMac PMP and vizio 4K built in PMP colors look fine ? I can’t understand it…


Are you watching Man of Steel? That could be the problem.


The movie is Logan Lucky.

I just tried to play a file that I have that I know is HDR in PMP on my Mac without an HDR display and it seemed to look normal just like yours does on your iMac (I played Wonder Woman). I know this file triggers HDR on my TV when I play it in Infuse, or in Plex on my Apple TV 4K (only with a compatible audio stream). So perhaps some clients are tone mapping if they can direct play.

Your iPad Pro looks washed out because it is probably transcoding because of the audio stream. That’s what happens on mine. If I play a 4K HEVC HDR file with Atmos or TrueHD audio, and it is transcoding it will look washed out. If I change it to the AC3 stream and it is direct playing it looks fine.


@ShaGe Thanks for your reply I preciate it very much. But my thing is that my movies are not HDR, just plain ol 4K HEVC. Perhaps you’re right about the audio transcoding, but I don’t think this has to do with only HDR, but 4K HEVC. My iMac doesn’t support HDR or 4K, and it looks normal, this is plex media players with bad tone mapping due to who knows. Why does my vizio PMP plays those movies fine ? And my iMac ? Just a bit complicated for me. Thanks again!


Are the files washed out in VLC on your iMac as well?


Ok I did a bit of playing around a bit because I wasn’t satisfied with the answer I gave earlier. I thought that if audio was forcing the file to transcode that affected things but it doesn’t seem to.

So, here is a 10bit 4K file that I have. I played it in PMP on my Mac, and it looked normal. The display is NOT HDR compatible.

I played it on my iPad Pro, with the iPad Pro direct streaming (in playback settings playback is set to play original quality). It looked normal. I then played it again with subtitles turned on, which forces it to transcode on an iPad Pro. It looked washed out.

I then went to my bedroom TV which does not support HDR and my living room TV which does support HDR. It looked normal in Infuse (which does not transcode) and it looked washed out in Plex. In Plex web it says that it is transcoding when it looks washed out every time. I tested this with my Samsung TV’s Plex app, and the Xbox One app as well. In the Xbox One and Apple TV forums there is a lot of talk of 4K always transcoding.

It was the same situation. If the video had to transcode — either because it was too large for the player, because it had incompatible audio etc or I turned on PGS subtitles, the picture looked washed out. If the player can direct stream the video it looks fine. Whether the display supported HDR or not.

So long story short for your iPad Pro: it will likely look normal if you have your playback settings set to “Original”, but probably won’t look normal if you’re transcoding.

If Plex needs to transcode the video it will look washed out, if it does not need to transcode it will not look washed out. The file itself probably can just tell the display how to behave.


@ShaGe wow this is getting even more complicated lol. And yes I just play a 4K HEVC movie on VLC and MPlayerx on my Mac, they look washed out. Thank you so much for the help, and your time.


@ShaGe hey I’m playing my 4K movies direct play on my iPad Pro and still look washed out. Am I doing something wrong ? Can you please show me your settings


loose809 is right… i have the same issue. I have close to 200 identical movies in 1080p and 4k. Color is washed out on ALL 4k movies, and not just a few. In fact, it is washed out on every device ive tried. Macbook pro via plex web, apple tv, iphone, samsung plex app, and xbox one x.

Here is an screenshot when playing via macbook using plex web. makes no difference if it is played from other devices. I think this is a plex issue and not any other devices. I have 2015 and a 2017 Samsung HDR 4K TV’s with same results. Zero problems viewing 4K media through Netflix or Amazon.




Yes I agree, this is a Plex media server issue. Plex needs to fix this ASAP, and I don’t recall this happening like 6 months ago, it could’ve been triggered with a recent update. Do you have a 4K tv ? Try playing a 4K movie with the built in PMP, make sure on the PMP settings you’re allowing or forcing direct play and get back to me when you can with some inputs. Thanks


So I went ahead and did a few tests. I’ve tried changing the formats on my AppleTV, as well as fully disabling the transcoder within Plex. It is a Plex issue.

Assuming your’e running an AppleTV 4k, An easy way to check is to enable DLNA on your plex server, and then download VLC. From there you can access your Plex library and play the files direct. VLC has the full color range, Plex seems to be missing colors in the red range.

I agree, this needs to get fixed. It’s crazy that from a local network it can’t play 4k file types correctly.


I know its only been a couple of days, but is there any update on this. I’d love to see a fix for this.


@VooPoc not really… we got an update today for the plex media server, but so far nothing gotten fixed. I don’t think this is going to get fixed anytime soon. The best thing to do is getting a 4ktv and using the built in PMP…


My samsung UHD TV’s built in plex player can’t handle 4K. It can’t play HEVC files (transcodes it) so not much choice with that sadly. I’m sure newer TVs would do a better job as my app doesn’t look like its ever had an update (interface is very old).
Just tried playing a few different files. Baby driver for example is a lovely colourful movie. My TV’s plex app has to transcode and can barely manage that. My Xbox One X plex app can play the file just fine direct play of audio and video but looks totally washed out and awful. My PC playing the same file on a non HDR compatible screen, in either the default windows 10 media player, media player classic, or VLC all look great. My PC playing it in plex looks like washed out garbage.

Hopefully Plex better supports UHD/HDR content very soon. It’s a bit of a shame as I’d love to build up a good digital collection of my UHD movies. At least for now I can play some of them in lovely HDR on UHD bluray.


I’m lucky enough that my TV can direct play HDR and it avoids this. I’m not so lucky with my NVIDIA Shield connected to a receiver that can’t play HDR.

Still a huge issue any time I play one of these movies on any other screen.


There is definitely an issue…easiest way to be sure is use a player like MPC BE to play a 4k 10 bit color file and then compare it through the Plex transcoder…the colors are washed out and look terrible…I’ve tested this with several newer movies like Thor Ragnarok and The Shape of Water…at 1080p x265 10 bit color, everything looks fantastic…but at 2160p (4k), the colors are washed out and look very bad…but the same movie in 2160p played through MPC BE looks perfect.


I don’t think this is directly a Plex issue, I’ve just tested Emby that uses FFmpeg and its exactly the same. I know Plex has there own forked version of FFmpeg, so this might be an upstream issue or even something the Plex team can fix. I agree this isn’t going to be a quick fix.

EDIT: After some research with FFmpeg it appears to be tone-mapping, ShaGe makes reference to this above, but I don’t have access to that forum thread. People have got correct tonemapping working on FFmpeg and MadVR. Whats the latest on that forum thread?


Now the 4k I have in the livingroom using the built in plex stopped direct playing 4k hevc movies, now it looks washed out. What the hell is going on ? Before it was working fine, and another update, now my iPad Pro is directing playing 4k before it wasn’t… this is really a turn off bad plex