Richard Duquette

ACES - industry standard for managing color
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  |   Art et technique

ACES | Academy Color Encoding System

Since the arrival of digital cameras and the proliferation of formats, encoding type and a whole range of more or less high-quality equipment, film professionals are faced with a major problem: the constancy in the colors.

For over 10 years, “the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” devoted considerable resources to the development of a solution: ACES.

ACES 1.0 (January 2015), is a proven method to standardize the calibration process and improvement of color, “the look of the film.”

Why encourage the use of ACES in the workplace? First reason: saving time and money, but also the safety of mind regarding archiving, data optimization (various types of cameras), consistency among stakeholders in post phase -production and finally, a simple but effective method to ensure that the products will be visually identical in any cinemas (DCI-P3), television (REC.709) and electronics (sRBG): a standardization the signal on different platforms.

For the rest? ACES is designed to continue to evolve over time and take into account the improvement of the cameras and the decoding algorithms of the video signal. ACES also recreates the master copies of the current ACES productions with future update RRT (Reference Rendering Transform) to conform to new media types, such as televisions and spaces 4K colors like REC. 2020.

To understand why ACES effectively controls whether the color management in a brief explanation, only the central section or, color correction, is left to the colorist. The rest is managed by the ACES standard and does not allow human interaction, which reduces errors.

Who should use ACES

  • Director of photography
  • colorist
  • Post-production company
  • VFX company
  • archivist

Are the producer should insist that their production should be subject to the ACES standards … Yes definitely!

What are the costs associated with the ACES update
When several post-production companies must work together on the same project, the adaptation time is quickly offset by improved operations and peace of mind. A profitable investment.

  • Input Device Transform (IDT)

  • Academy Color Encoding Specification (ACES)

  • Reference Rendering Transform (RRT)

  • Output Device Transform (ODT)

Ressources externes


The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) is becoming the industry standard for managing color throughout the life cycle of a motion picture or television production. From image capture through editing, VFX, mastering, public presentation, archiving and future remastering, ACES ensures a consistent color experience that preserves the filmmaker’s creative vision. In addition to the creative benefits, ACES addresses and solves a number of significant production, post-production and archiving problems that have arisen with the increasing variety of digital cameras and formats in use, as well as the surge in the number of productions that rely on worldwide collaboration using shared digital image files.

ACES is a free, open, device-independent color management and image interchange system that can be applied to almost any current or future workflow. It was developed by hundreds of the industry’s top scientists, engineers and end users, working together under the auspices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

ACES 1.0 is the first production-ready release of the system, the result of over 10 years of research, testing and field trials. It includes support for a wide variety of digital and film-based production workflows, visual effects, animation and archiving.


Today’s motion pictures and television shows are complex collaborative efforts, involving many separate companies using digital image capture, image creation and editorial workflows that are much more difficult to integrate than film-based workflows.

On a typical production there might be three or four different digital cameras as well as a film camera in use, all recording to different devices and media using different data formats. During post-production, especially on major motion pictures, multiple facilities may be engaged for editing, visual effects, mastering and other work. Digital image files arrive at these facilities in any of a dozen (or more!) formats and color encoding schemes, often without essential metadata. At the end of the process, studio deliverables could range from large-screen film prints to mobile device encodings.

All along the way, the integration challenges increase  – and on the horizon there are undoubtedly emerging technologies and new all-digital distribution platforms that will add complexities of their own.

ACES 1.0 solves numerous integration challenges by enabling consistent, high-quality color management from production to distribution.  It provides digital image encoding and other specifications that preserve the latitude and color range of the original imagery, allowing the highest-quality images possible from the cameras and processes used. Equally important, ACES 1.0 establishes a common standard so deliverables can be efficiently and predictably created and preserved. ACES 1.0 enables filmmakers to manage the look of a production today and into the future.


Virtually everyone involved in production, post-production and archiving can enjoy ACES benefits.

For cinematographers, colorists and digital imaging technicians, ACES 1.0 preserves creative intent from on-set capture to presentation by:

  • Eliminating uncertainty between on-set look management and downstream color correction through standardized viewing transforms and equipment calibration methods
  • Preserving the full range of highlights, shadows and colors captured on set for use throughout post-production and mastering
  • Simplifying the matching of images from different cameras
  • Providing a means to repurpose source materials when creating alternate deliverables

For visual effects and other post-production facilities, ACES 1.0 streamlines digital workflows by:

  • Simplifying the interchange of unfinished motion picture imagery
  • Providing a standard color management architecture that can be shared by hardware and software vendors
  • Eliminating uncertainty associated with undocumented or poorly documented file formats and color encodings
  • Establishing standards for metadata

For producers and studios, ACES 1.0 reduces production costs and enables future-proofed archiving by:

  • Providing a free, open source color and look management architecture that can be shared by vendors whose hardware and software products are used on set and in post-production
  • Ensuring digital assets can be repurposed to take advantage of future high-dynamic-range, wide-color-gamut display devices
  • Ensuring the archive contains the highest fidelity digital source master possible, representing the digital equivalent of the “finished negative”