"RACES... the real solution" to what: the Red end of the spectrum?
"RACES... the real solution" to what: the Red end of the spectrum?
Thanks again Michael. Great insight. You are quite heavy with the light iron.
Heavy in the 60's groovy sense of the word.
I dig it.
- Predictability and standardization means less errors, less mistakes and less miscommunications. No "What Gamma is this file in? What LUT needs to be applied." etc etc etc. You just open an EXR and you save out an EXR. No loss of data, no incorrect loading or saving.
- If you work with a standard then it doesn't matter what the client prefers... once the file gets into the software you can work in whatever color space you want. That's what's so nice about a predictable standard. This reminds me of the old FUD about LOG vs Lin that if you graded log DPXs you would get better results than grading linear EXRs (even though you could just apply a Log->Lin or Lin-> Log operation on ingestion). If your client wants to work in gamma corrected 709 then you can just import it and apply a gamma curve as step #1. But there is no ambiguity or uncertainty that you are viewing it wrong. If you do something to the image like grade in LOG gamma then it's because you intentionally moved the image into that color space.
- It was just better. Yes there is a plurality of options (rendering to AVI!) but most of those are just terrible. People rendering images to BMP for instance is an option but it is by every single metric a god awful and demonstrably bad option. Sometimes bad workflows just need to be killed.
- Everything becomes predictable. There are less surprises or curve balls.
- The single process is a little more complicated than any other process but you only have to understand the one and you always know what process you are working with.
- This ar tform is hard enough without something as simple as a file format being a source of worry.
I think it's also a little unfair to call out what's harder on ACES without also acknowledging what's easier. There were also a lot of things that made working with Linear EXRs 'harder'. But those negatives didn't slow down production or bog down studios since they were overwhelmingly offset by the positives. If you are going to say something is slower and more expensive then you have to take into account the aspects which make it faster and cheaper.
This was a problem when Digital was coming into its own and film people were comparing film vs digital. I saw a lot of comparisons mentioning things like "Transcode time". But they were completely ignoring the fact that film didn't get telecined by magic and also had its own time/cost analogous to transcoding.
Didn't you just give a whole talk on fighting the Status Quo. ;)
I can tell you from personal experience to avoid ACES at all cost regarding red footage. I have seen what it's done to my show Justified. Perhaps one day soon a generic development process like ACES will work with all cameras. It's a wonderful concept but currently it does not work with all cameras. It's use is limited. I've seen the difference up close and personal. Avoid ACES using Red. It doesn't work. I've worked very closely with ACES from it's beginning. I know where it works and where it will destroy beautiful images. I hope you take my advice. Thanks, Francis Kenny, ASC
Assuming identical monitors and set ups... it's theoretically possible. But getting there is going to be fraught with problems. I see Michael's point at the whole issue with 16-bit EXR files is that they're bloody enormous, and it's gonna slow down the pipeline like molasses in January. I've always agreed with his consensus that there are many ways to skin a cat, and not necessarily one perfect workflow that will work well for everybody -- especially in terms of time, budget, and available manpower.
ProRes 444 is viable. So is Avid DNxHD 220. Both are used every day for HD delivery for network and cable TV. Uncompressed DPX 10-bit log files have been around for over 15 years, and still get used every day, at a variety of aspect ratios. And there are people routinely using variations of HDCam-SR (tape and data), and it's workable for many projects. So is 4K, provided you have a fat pipe and a dedicated infrastructure.
The problems with colorspaces and LUTs is: there's so many to choose from. Every new camera that comes out seems to have a new one. This is getting worse, not better. SMPTE is trying to sort all these out, but the target is moving so quickly, every time they start laying the groundwork for standardization, three new cameras come out and the battlefield is changed all over again. It may never get stable enough for a standard to actually take hold. Until then, all we have is ad hoc standards for individual facilities. As long as you control the workflow end to end, this can work very successfully.
You speak and write with eloquence, but words alone are not particularly convincing if the point they're trying to make is not well founded. If you, as LightIron, don't see the value in ACES and don't particularly want to support it, that's fine. But to come up with reasons that are basically just as true about any other new technology is not something I can agree with. Supporting Red was far more involved (still is), far more costly (still is, especially if you require a Red Rocket card in every device that needs to play it back in real time or render it), and far more "nonstandard" than a color system that is really, at its heart, just substituting an input transform for an input LUT and an output transform for an output LUT. Yes, it has a long way to go. Yes, it has specific issues at this point that need to be remedied. Yes, it has a "signature look" to it. All of those things are likely to be addressed over time, especially if the industry demonstrates support for the ultimate goal, which is to provide a theoretically unlimited color space that can accommodate all of the data from all capture devices known and unknown, and preserve that for archival integrity, along with providing a common mezzanine space for all of the varied formats we are constantly having to spend "time and money" on now. If you don't see the value in that, that's fine. But the points you made really don't stand up because they're true of just about everything we do. That's simply life in a technically driven industry.
I can appreciate that, Mike. And I don't mind being called out or challenged in any way;-)
The bottom line for me is this:
My RU posts and all my previous statements about ACES demonstrate recognition of value to the system and for future proofing. For Light Iron, we think being cautiously optimistic and prepared to implement ACES is a better starting point than shooting in ACES and changing IDTs during the shoot. -Call me crazy, but really what I'm talking about is studying for the test so I can ACE it before it's given to me. There are movies out there right now that are doing the opposite and the images are paying the price. [See Francis Kenny's note above and ask around...]
While all of the camera formats you mentioned could easily apply into my post, here is where the math doesn't work: I'm not forced by the camera manufacturer to retrofit my facility to support their camera. It's a choice! (again, pluralism). Light Iron chose not to support film, which was a business decision. Though we knowingly gave up the opportunity for telecine clientele, we were never pressured or threatened to further film's prevalence in order to do any work. In contrast, I have been told by studio executive clients that, "If you don't do ACES, you don't work with us." The other key differentiator is if you insert RED into my previous post, you're ignoring the source of the request. In other words, Light Iron is clearly a known advocate for working with new and even beta technologies on a regular basis. The difference here is that creatives are typically the ones making requests for implementing a beta technology (such as F65 or RED) and they accept responsibility for its challenges, physically, financially, and visually.
Ask yourself this:
Hasn't history shown that some of the best technical implementation in motion pictures been motivated by creatives? From the Wizard of Oz to Terminator 2, to The Hobbit, I find when creatively driven, technological advancements can remain truer to the art and enhance the filmmaker's visions. But when the phone rings and I'm being told to use ACES on an upcoming project, even though it is admittedly incomplete and still in testing, it's never been a creative asking me to do this on the other end of the line.
That concerns me, Mike.
ACES has two faces. I am excited about ACES for the right reasons. I am troubled when ACES is being pushed on filmmakers by agencies instead of the other way around.
If ACES is purely an option, then it's a benign and powerful creative edge that should be leveraged when appropriate. But in my experience and the experience of many creatives around me, ACES is quickly snowballing into a mandate and not an option. That is starkly different from choosing to implement [substitute camera name here.]
"But I don't see any clothes!"
Kudos to the Mikes for the tenor of their debate - substance and respect, not rancor and chest pounding. Thank you.
It's too bad that at the point in time when the suits finally got hip to the upside of ACES, it wasn't ready for its closeup. I urge the academy and other stakeholders to seize the moment and put serious resources into making IIF/ACES viable before the opportunity is squandered. Props to RED for their commitment to working with the academy to optimize their IDT.
Shout out to Francis Kenny for his technical fortitude in (AFAIK) the first use of ACES for a premium cable network series (Justified, season 1 on F35) and going full Epic on Justified season 2.
Cheers - #19
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