What is ACES?

The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) is a global standard for interchanging digital image files, managing color workflows and creating masters for delivery and archiving. It is a a colour management system, a set of SMPT standards, best practices and sophisticated colour science designed to simplify colour management by maintaining the image quality and colour fidelity of your production at the highest level throughout production, postproduction and archiving.

ACES is developed by hundreds of professional filmmakers and color scientists under the auspices of the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It is free and open source, which allows various software and hardware makers to incorporate ACES into their tools and continually innovate on top of its standardised framework.

Why use ACES?

ACES offers greatly simplified colour management which has practical implications on your work. It simplifies the camera matching process, it improves colour consistency and quality throughout the pipeline, it eliminates much of a guesswork from your workflow, it improves communication by adding reliability and standardising the viewing pipeline and more importantly ACES “future proofs” your work.

What problems does ACES solve?

TV shows, commercials, films and most productions are a complex collaborative effort involving many separate entities using digital image capture, image creation and editorial workflows that can be difficult to integrate.

On a typical production there may be several different digital cameras, as well as film camera in use, all recording to different devices and using different formats for data storage. During post-production, especially on major motion pictures, multiple facilities may be engaged for editing, visual effects, mastering and other work. Digital images arriving at these facilities use various colour encodings and formats. At the end of the process, deliverables range anywhere from large screen film prints to mobile devices.

ACES solves numerous challenges by offering consistent, high-quality colour management from production to distribution. ACES provides a set of tools that preserve the latitude and colour range of the original imagery, regardless of the capture medium, allowing the highest quality images possible from the cameras and processes used. Equally important, ACES establishes a common standard so all parts of the production, from image capture to delivery are predictable and can be efficiently created and preserved.

Productions of all sizes, from one-man-shows to major motion pictures can benefit from using ACES in their workflow by offering simplified workflows, highest image quality, predictability and by future proofing the work for usage with new and emerging technologies and distribution platforms.

What are the benefits of using ACES?

ACES is of great advantage for everyone involved in production, post-production and archiving. Still photographers can benefit from ACES too.

For cinematographers, colourists and digital imaging technicians

  • ACES eliminates uncertainty between on-set look management and colour correction through use of standardised viewing transforms
  • ACES preserves the highest possible image quality throughout the entire process
  • ACES simplifies matching between different cameras
  • ACES makes it easy to repurpose source materials when creating different deliverables

For visual effect and other post production facilities

  • ACES simplifies the interchange of imagery
  • ACES provides a standardised colour management system that can be shared with predictable results between different software and hardware vendors and systems
  • ACES eliminates uncertainty by using standardised viewing transforms

For producers and studios

  • ACES ensures assets can easily be repurposed to take advantage of future high-dynamic-range, wide-colour-gamut display devices
  • ACES ensures archives contain the highest possible quality source master
  • ACES offers a free to use and standardised means of colour management that eliminates guess work from production and post production resulting in overall reduced cost

For still photographers

  • ACES offers the advantage of using a sophisticated and proven colour science
  • ACES offer a simplified means of colour managing the workflow
  • ACES future proofs the captured images by standardising them and allowing them to be used in any ACES production seamlessly

How is ACES used in fylm.ai?

fylm.ai uses ACES internally to colour manage your images. Specifically, fylm.ai uses ACEScct, a sub colour space of ACES2065-1 linear colour space, specifically suited for colour grading purposes.

All of the technical parts of ACES colour management take part seamlessly in the background and are mostly transparent to the end user. User should select the appropriate ACES Input and Output Device Transforms. For example, for an image captured on Arri Alexa user should selected the ‘Arri Alexa Log-C EI800’ Input Device Transform. The Output Device Transform should be selected based on the calibration point of the monitor on which fylm.ai is used, for example Rec709, sRGB or P3. You can read more about colour management in fylm.ai in this document.

All of your colour grading decisions in fylm.ai take place between Input Device Transform (applied at the start of the pipeline) and Output Device Transform (applied at the end of the pipeline) so it’s easy to repurpose your colour grade. Simply select different Input and Output Device Transforms and your colour grade will be repurposed to the new settings.