Blair - FYI, there's nothing wrong with the IDT if DRX is on, and as I've not changed that particular code for the IDT since I wrote it...
The fact that we still need to talk about ACES means it needs a lot of work. It should be invisible. But it's also not something that a director is going to ask for. No director was ever going to suggest that VFX facilities should adopt EXR or whether their scans should have been to 16bit linear or 10bit log. They should just be able to show up and ask for a look and get it. How we deliver that image shouldn't be a concern one way or another to the client.
There are always pros and cons to standardization, but if standardization was a creative choice, then it probably wouldn't be a standard, would it?
Most creativity in filmmaking during certain periods happens within standards, until the next standard comes along, and in between it can be a bit chaotic. That's where we are today, in the Wild West of workflows, color spaces, file formats, etc. Which is fine and fun... but at some point, it would be nice to enter a period of stability so that creative work can happen without reinventing the wheel, because I can be creative working within some standards, I don't have to create new standards from scratch every time I begin a project.
For example, it drives me nuts that computer monitors and other internet display devices are not more standardized since more and more content is being viewed that way. I can color-correct for a Rec.709 standard for broadcast HDTV, whether or not everyone watches it correctly is another matter, but at least I have a target to aim for... but on the internet, the same Rec.709 clips show up in all sorts of different looks. Now maybe the Rec.709 standard needs updating (it was designed for CRT's after all) but we need standards for displays or else we don't know what to color-correct for.
I actually don't think ACES is meant to be a creative tool per se, like a camera filter or lens is, if implemented correctly it shouldn't create any limitations in choice for color-correcting. In the long term, a lot of this is driven by the fact that if we open up a digital master 50 years from now, it would be nice to know how to interpret the color information without just guessing at the creative intent. In the short term, it seems like it would allow the color information to be less dependent on the individual post houses to figure out how to interpret and display.
A lot of creativity starts out working within standards and knowing one's limitations -- the most obvious example is the borders of the frame itself. Being bounded by a frame allows the art of composition to happen -- it is not a impediment to creativity, it allows creativity to happen.
I'm interested in ACES as a solution to many, many post related problems. But like each of these new cameras coming out, it has not stabilized or matured enough yet and has many kinks to work out. However, it's currently the only real initiative out there to try and create some commonality between all of these cameras, proprietary formats, codecs, color spaces, post pathways, ect... I am keeping an eye on it as it progresses and I'm hopeful for the future it promises. We all need to understand this digital frontier to the best of our abilities.
That you are having a particular workflow forced down your throat when you are the facility that has to do the work with your particular pipeline and knows which way will currently be best for a given project only shines a light on a greater problem the industry must come to terms with. Technology is changing daily. Blindly forcing workflows, cameras or ANY new technology on a project or artist is the great battle we grapple with with increasing frequency. And this touches on the very theme of the workflow article I interviewed both you and Mike Most on! (American Cinematographer, Jan. '12) So what do we do! We bang our heads and work it out!
Justified used Epic for season three, not season two as mentioned in a previous post. I am currently using Epic on a remake of the movie Steel Magnolias. I am not using ACES. The footage is spectacular and far superior than my experiment using ACES with the Epic. The Epic footage is far more beautiful with a greater dynamic range than when I used another type camera with ACES. ACES does not work well with the Epic. What works well for one camera system may not work for another. Without going into details there are strong political and economic forces behind all post workflows. I can give you a metaphor to describe how to think about this issue. I recently made a documentary with the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. He often told the story about a man walking down the street who meets Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill tells the man a story about WW2. Afterwards the man continues walking down the street where he meets a drunk who tells him a story about WW2 but it's completely different from the version Winston Churchill told. Vincent would ask people, "Who would you believe? Winston or the drunk?" 99% of the people questioned answered "Winston Churchill". Vincent's answer would always be, "I'd listen to what both of them had to say before making up my mind who to believe." I can tell every single one of the reduser readers that ACES works for some camera systems but does not for others. And by using ACES with the Epic you are cheating yourself of the magic of the cameras ability. My thoughts are based on many years of shooting and knowing the difference between what brings out the very best in each camera system. But....there is a much bigger picture involved here. Think about it without presumption. The answer is right in front of your noses. I have for over ten years chaired the ASC's membership committee where I sat and judged other cinematographer's work. I see a lot of footage. I've worked non stop for the passed 5 years. I see what works and what destroys good work. I only want to pass on some common sense to my fellow cinematographers.
FYI the price of completion using Epic is cheaper than other systems. You are welcome to talk to the producers of my show and they can give you the details of the post costs. They are cheaper and the quality is breathtaking. Beyond any other camera system I've used in the past. I can tell you that if you learn to use the Epic correctly you'll never have to worry about working ever again. It is a magic machine in good hands.
Francis Kenny, ASC ASC Board of Governors ASC Membership Chairman AMPAS
As somebody not at all involved in productions where ACES is of any consequence, I really appreciate the comments by our veterans of the industry. Thank you gentlemen for all the in depth (and CIVIL) discussion!
Francis, thanks immensely for your feedback. I'd love to talk to you more about this.
So is ACES going to work with the Epic eventually?
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