Sometimes that's a very good thing. For some projects and some colorists, "cutting to the chase" can sometimes be welcome if - and only if - the chase you're cutting to is appropriate and desirable for that particular project. Although it might sound good to have things come out completely neutral, the truth is we don't always have time, especially in a client supervised session, to play around and explore different scenarios. You look at what's in front of you and go to where it seems to be leading you. The current RRT has some very specific characteristics that are quite nice for heavily saturated, mixed light environments, like some music videos and commercials, but inappropriate for others, like a "standard" drama that doesn't really scream out for a "look creation" scenario. It emphasizes orange/gold tones and cyan/blue tones in a considerably stronger way than most other color environments, and also increases contrast, particularly in the low end. It is, as you and Graeme say, not a "neutral" starting point. But for some projects, it can be useful, even if only to give the colorist some ideas.
Now, having said all that, I agree that it needs to have less of a "signature" and I and many others continue to make Alex, Ray, and others involved in the ACES project very aware of it. At this point it represents another choice. At some point in the future, it may or may not become more of a first choice. Time, and further development, will tell.
Mike, I'm surprised to hear you say that in the context of what is being discussed here: the big picture, and not what might happen to fit the odd element of the big picture. I understand why, in practice, one might want to find a quick answer or direction to a specific need, but that's another story. Am I mistaken in thinking that a "neutral" starting point might also have quick avenues to certain looks? "Quick", and reliable, as far as the long term is concerned????
I've never really fully bought into the desire for a neutral picture. As long the exposure is correct (not underexposed which creates shadow noise or overexposed which loses highlight information) I don't see how starting from neutral helps if you know how you want the picture to look from the outset. Neutral gives you possibilities in many directions. But if you know how you want the picture to look, I don't see how neutral is advantageous b/c you are exposing and recording for possibilities that you aren't going to use.
And actually, I could envison how neutral could be worse. For simplicity's sake, let's say that X amount of color correction causes Y amount of unwanted image distortion. If exposing and recording for the look you want means only 0.5X worth color correction, then you get only 0.5Y unwanted image distortion due to the correction. But if you expose and record neutral you may have to apply 3X worth of correction to move the image to the look originally intended for. That will add 3Y worth of unwanted image distortion.
Now the above is obviously simplistic... and more extreme grades acutally add more wonkiness to the image, but I think it illustrates the logic. Put another way, if I'm on Houston Street in Manhattan and I need to get to 14th Street, I take a cab to 14th Street which about a mile away. I don't ask the cabbie to take me to Central Park which is three miles away b/c it's in the middle of the City and the take me back down to 14th Street. If I need to drop-off stuff in Midtown or eat lunch on the Upper Westside, that would be helpful (ignoring the running meter, LOL!). But if I know where I want to go in the first place, it makes little sense to pass through netural.
I could be wrong about this, and it seems to go against a lot of the comments I hear colorist and other people say. So I'd love to hear Mike and others chime in on it! Thanks.
I hear you Peter. And Mike Most, for that matter. ( :
Is the issue with Aces a fundamental one: no matter how "neutral" or perfectly it interprets the RED data, it is still "interpreting", and that is seen as being inferior to the R3D workflow? And "Races" hints at a red-centic addition (damage control) to this less than perfect alternative to the R3D workflow?
At what point do we commit the data to the oven?
Peter, the types of image processing operations done by many of the RRT/ODT combos I've seen are not simple adjustments along the lines of what a colourist has access to in their traditional toolset. They may be theoretically invertible, but not practically so by colourist tools. That may mean that certain RRT/ODT combos may preclude certain looks because the standard toolset is not suitable for undoing their effect and to produce the desired look. Of course, if everything was a very simple linear transform, everything would be easily undoable with a simple toolset, which is my mind is almost another way of suggesting neutrality.
ask mike most anything, or send me or somebody a pm. you could start your own thread - obviously, but i'm sure this has been discussed before, so search around a bit to see if that's necessary. we certainly don't need any excess/double threads clogging up poor reduser's arteries... :)
mike meant that working with aces should apply neutral transformations to your footage, meaning colors/contrast should not be affected. that's the whole problem with aces right now. you're not making the decisions, it's giving you a starting point. if that starting point is somewhere you'd probably go towards anyways... well, that's fine - otherwise it's a problem right now. the idea is not to provide another pre-packaged magic bullet looks type preset because you're working in aces - it's supposed to just be about making a widely supported standard that can be easily passed around. right now, it has it's own look - and it really shouldn't. i realize it's a difficult undertaking, but it should not be forced upon the entire industry until it is simple, effective, and 'neutral'. when it gets there, no force will be necessary.
An example of "not neutral" would be if you have an perfectly white balanced image of some neutral grey scale. If ACES rendered that with a warm tint, then it'd be "not neutral". In this case, a shift in white balance would be easily neutralized by any competent colourist.
Say the example is a bit more complex - a particular shade of blue is made purple. Just that shade of blue mind you, and no other. Could you construct a secondary to pull that shade of purple and make it blue? Sure, but you'd have to know such a thing was occurring to do it accurately. But what about if there's a shade of purple that is correctly portrayed, that might now get turned blue.... This kind of "not neutral" is much more concerning.
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