COLOR POLICY for Project Creation

So this might sound like a noob question, but what are the benefits of color policy settings when creating a project. I’ve always used “Legacy,” but it seems many people prefer the ACES 1.O or ACES 1.1 setting. What exactly are the benefits in working in an ACES project and are there any rudimentary tutorials or videos that explain this concept in depth? Any advice would be appreciated, thanks.

Hi Pete,

Definitely not a noob question. Color management is a pretty advanced subject. I know a little bit about it, and I find myself super reluctant to talk about it because it gets pretty thick pretty quick.

I think the simple answer is that setting a color policy preset during project creation automatically sets your Color Management settings (Working Color Space, Action Color Space, Input Rules, and Viewing Rules) based on the preset you select. What that means for you depends on what you’re doing. If you don’t set the color policy during project creation, but still want to use something like ACES, you can still certainly set the viewing rules / color management yourself, you would just have to know what to set and where.

As far as how to use this color management, that leads me to your second question. Grant Kay has it covered! He made a series on Color Management a while back for Flame 2017.1 but a quick flip through a few of them makes me think it hasn’t changed a whole lot since then, and is still quite relevant.

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Thanks, Jeff! I should’ve known Grant put out a video on it.

Of course! The videos are pretty lengthy but they sure do go in detail explaining how Flame’s color management works.

But after going through those videos, if you still have questions about some specifics, I’d be happy to talk about it, and maybe others would too!

Another idea that came to mind is that one of the big reasons ACES was created was for the sake of standardization of the color science math across platforms so that what you’re seeing is the same as what someone else is seeing. The more variety of programs the renders are passing through, the more important it is that you’re using ACES, especially when the final deliverable is a larger gamut than Rec.709. I’ve never worked on HDR stuff, but I think that might be another big reason to use ACES.

But if you’re like me and you work on commercials with Rec.709 source footage supplied by a color studio, and you’re delivering a Rec.709 deliverable yourself, you might never need to delve into ACES. Even if you take the advanced route of making sure all your defocus blurring comps are done in linear (as one example), I think the difference between ACES linear and whatever other linear you choose is negligible when you’re just going into linear and then coming back to Rec.709.

At the end of the day, this is what I’ve synthesized from all the color management conversations / talks / videos I’ve heard people smarter than me talk about. I could be wrong!

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I tend to roll my own very simplified color policies. (two rules: one rule to view linear and log, one rule to view video)

Legacy isn’t great because it doesn’t correlate to footage you’re likely to encounter these days. The only example I can think of would be a job you unearthed from 2012 or so that you had to match exactly AND that job was using those viewing luts. Even then I would recommend using an ACES or AlexaWideGamut workflow.

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Imagine automagically tagging footage based on what the file extension is and/or naming conventions/patterns in the file name and no matter what you never have to look at a picture incorrectly ever again. That’s Color Management. I believe it is the single least underutilized part of the software.

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My two cents: You need to figure out, how your color workflow should be.

You’re working on graded footage like Rec709 and thats the only thing you’ll need to deliver? There is no big need for another Color Policy than Legacy.

You’re the the one and only who has to deal with ungraded footage and supply everybody else with your exports? You’ll need basic understandig of colorspaces.

You’re working in a multi-platform environment and need to deliver all sorts of different colors spaces (fe. Rec709 for broadcast, P3 for theaters, HDR for VoD…") OR you’re working in a pipeline which works before grading? You’ll need that specific Color Policy.

Color Management is more or less tagging, auto-converting and viewing at footage in a correct manner - like Randy said.
But even without a color policy and in Legacy mode there’s actually some sort of color management happening under the hood.

Every software has to deal with color in some way every time.
It has to know/assume what the incoming color space is.
It has operators to work in a more or less specific color space.
And it has to show it to you on a display with the display’s color space.

To keep it simple, there is always this chain:
Input CS > Working CS > Output CS (or Viewing CS)

F.e. in Flame’s Legacy Mode you’re doing nothing to your incoming footage.
Everything is tagged Unknown and you’re exporting Unknown. IN equals OUT.
You need to know that Flame’s Unknown is actually assuming Rec709 with a Gamma of 2.4 (or the more accurate wording “Rec1886”).
So everything you bring into flame as Unknow is treated as Rec709 but without clipping information and is always displayed with a Rec709 (or sRGB Display) LUT on your screen.
That’s why Log-Footage is shown flat.
That’s why linear Footage is shown with high contrast.
And that’s why working on graded Rec709 footage in flame is like a no-brainer.

In another Color Policy like ACES, Flame tries to read out the metadata of footage, applies the color tagging or converts the footage to the working color space and applies Viewing LUTs. All that in a sort of automatic style.

I really love to work with ungraded footage and especially with ACES.
I can easily mix different footage in my comps without the need of a colorist to grade that first.

But Color is a big topic with a lot of do’s and don’ts.
ACES is to simplify and standardize color workflows across platforms.
ACES is the best known one, but there’s also Filmlight’s Truelight which is their own sort of ACES and also available to all platforms.

But you’ll need deeper knowledge in general color science to really understand what ACES is doing.

When you understand colors, it opens the door to a different style of working. Something what I don’t want to miss again.

Here are some Links which helped me out a lot and brought light into my grey’ish darkness :wink:

As a starter:

And more into depth:

Could write a little novel about this… But it should be enough for now :smiley:

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Fantastic explanation Chris!

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Chris, this is awesome! Thanks a ton. I can’t wait to delve into these.

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