2D Animation Pipeline


I’m establishing the workflow for a 2D animation project that needs to deliver to an outside vendor for color correct in ACES 2065-1.

Backgrounds are painted in Photoshop. Character and FX animation are in TV Paint. Compositing is in After Effects. And edit is (ideally) in Premiere, but we may end up switching to Resolve.

Normally we work with tv paint and photoshop files in sRGB and we just do After Effects in 16 bit rect 709 with pro res 4444 exports to premiere. But we’d like to take advantage of ACES/linear color space when we start compositing in After Effects.

I’ve seen workflows where you set After Effects to a Rect 709 workspace, composite everything normally, apply an ACES OCIO adjustment layer ABOVE your full composite, add a little color correction, and then use a guide layer adjustment so you can preview back in rect 709 on a normal monitor.

But ideally, I’d like each individual layer to be in ACES as we utilize a lot of camera lens blurs and lighting effects to give the show a more cinematic feel. Applying OCIO to all of my layers seems overkill and confusing - but visually the results are stunning when I work with each individual element in ACES 2065-1…

So my thought is to make sure ALL my individual elements in After Effects are somehow ACES 2065-1 and export EXRs to edit (which then would have to be done in resolve, not premiere).

Part of our process includes an extra zhoosh pass in edit with little compositing additions, amplified camera moves, minor color correction to unify scenes etc. So edit should ideally be done in ACES 2065-1 as well to set everything up perfectly for color.

This pipeline seems REALLY bloated!

Because we’re all work from home, and we view shots in dailies over the internet, it seems like we need to export work-in-progress scenes as pro res files in rect 709 so they can be properly viewed and worked on.

The bigger file sizes and extra processing time for everything seems like it could bite us in the butt. Having hundreds of layers in hundreds of shots manually color managed by compositors in After Effects seems dangerous, especially if we bring in untrained artists toward crunch time.

I’m still not 100% sure I’m managing different color spaces properly - even though the results look good.

What are the proper OCIO inputs and project settings for an sRGB .psd or PNG layer when I work in a Rect709 after effects sequence?

Is there a better way to export/convert from photoshop and TV paint to make things easier and more uniform before I bring into After Effects?

Or is there a better color space than rect 709 for me to work in in After Effects when I use OCIO? One that would make sure my project elements are all HDR/linear and I could apply OCIO to ACES 2065-1 after all the compositing?

Or am I better off not using OCIO at all in After Effects and working in an Adobe-native linearized HDR color space? One that would allow us to edit in premiere even?

Ultimately - without being a giant burden to the pipeline, what would give me the best visual results with the most color data when compositing 2D elements in After Effects with heavy camera lens blur and lighting effects?

Not expecting someone to have THE PERFECT solution for us, but I’d love any tips or resources! This is a lot of new stuff to learn and navigate.


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Welcome Dennis!

We’ve got some VFX ‘experts’ who will hopefully chime in. If not, I’ll see if I can reach out to someone for some suggestions, but in general, doing your work in rec709 and then converting to ACES 2065-1 for output is not a recommended workflow especially if you anticipate HDR work.

I’ll check back and am interested to see what suggestions people have.


Steve T
ACES Adoption Lead/ACESCentral Admin

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Thanks Steve! I’ve been learning a lot and am excited to engage with the community. After re-reading the OpenColorIO documentation (and now understanding a bit more) it seems like I should be setting my After Effects workspace to none and manually managing everything myself with OCIO. But not totally sure! Looking forward to hearing others’ responses.

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Hi Dennis,

I don’t have an answer to your question, but I find the question interesting. Can you share some images to give an idea what kind of look you are going after?

I can think of one way to do this:

  1. Draw and animate with your preferred display referred tools like you described.
  2. Import the layers and elements as sRGB-Texture in a scene referred comp tool, like Nuke or maybe even Fusion inside of Resolve.
  3. In the comp tool you push certain light values up in your images get the desired look and make use of higher values for camera blur, defocus und lighting effects.
  4. From stage (3.) you work in the working colorspace ACEScg, use the ACES view transform and you can export you final output as 2065-1 EXR files for further grading. Or you do the grading “on the way” in Resolve.

Best regards



Hey Daniel,

Thanks for this! It definitely helps confirm I’m doing things in the right steps for this project. Unfortunately I can’t share any images under NDA now, but I like to think of the look as viewing a graphic novel through the lens of a highly cinematic action film.

Because we’re an After Effects based studio, I don’t think we’ll be making the transition to Nuke for this one. After Effects does not have support for 2065-1, so I assume if I work in ACEScg and export EXRs in ACEScg, I would be able to transform to ACES 2065-1 in Resolve before sending to color correct.

In my tests though, working in ACEScg in After Effects crunches my colors for some reason, especially my blacks and I lose a lot of details. I get much better results if I work in color space (none) and use OCIO to convert layers from other color spaces to ACES 2065-1.

I’m somewhat concerned that some of my settings are wrong because I’m not working in a true ACES color space. But maybe I’m overanalyzing. At the end of the day, if I get a good end visual from my ACES view transform (I apply OCIO as an adjustment layer on my composition to transform ACES 2065-1 to rect709 and view it on a monitor calibrated to rect709) – then my EXRs that preserve RGB will work properly for my editor and colorist who are working in a true ACES 2065-1 color space. Right?

Hi Dennis,

as AE is not fully supporting OCIO, I could think of another route to go:

  1. Draw and animate with your preferred display referred tools like you described.
  2. Import the layers and elements into AE and comp in 32-bot float as you wanted. Depending on the view transform available you might see a different result than in the programs you created the animations.
  3. In the comp tool you push certain light values up in your images get the desired look and make use of higher values for camera blur, defocus und lighting effects.
  4. You work in linear sRGB/Rec.709 in AE and you can export EXRs from AE.
  5. To my knowledge there is no IDT (Utility linear-sRGB/Rec.709 like in Nuke) in Resolve when you work in ACES. But I guess someone knows how to get around it. The problem is that now in Resolve you would change again the view transform from whatever you have in AE to the ACES RRT/ODT. I am afraid this is rather confusing having three different view transforms throughout the production pipeline.

I am curious what other ways of handling this type of projects there are when you need to deliver ACES EXRs.

Best regards