Sorry for not getting this feedback in earlier, hopefully this is not too late to be helpful. I have one larger critique of the LMT working space to start with, followed by a bunch of suggestions on rewording different bits of the spec.
I am struggling to find the original intention and goal of adding this feature, can I request someone highlight that for me? I follow the mechanisms, I’m just not clear on the intended value with providing this flexibility.
I’m pretty divided on this feature. Top pro: leave lin/log conversions up to the applications instead of the LUT. Top con: Interop nightmare web of doom.
I’ll briefly mention TB-2014-010 to get the pedantic problem out of the way. That document lays out a clear definition: “The input to an LMT is always a triplet of ACES RGB relative exposure values; its output is always a new triplet of ACES RGB relative exposure values.”
So, if AMF supports breaking out transformations in order to feed the LMT a non-ACES image, and to receive a non-ACES image from the LMT, it is technically in conflict with the LMT definition. If this is really what is wanted, then TB-2014-010 should be updated along with the release of AMF. I think it is important this is not overlooked, because we should fully expect software vendors to start implementing more LMT features now that they can be exchanged/archived properly with AMF. We should ensure they are implemented against a 100% valid specification.
As for the feature itself, the top advantage, to me, of the currently proposed LMT working space feature is that adjustments applied in non-ACES color spaces do not have to package together all of the ACES to/from conversions into itself. Theoretically, this makes the translation of pre-existing look libraries to LMT libraries easier, because you just have to work out it’s working color space and specify it in the XML. I say theoretically, because in practice I’m sure a vast majority of stashed LUTs output display-referred RGB anyways. Lastly, those lin/log transforms are being trusted to the application rather than the LUT.
The top disadvantage, to me, is how unwieldy this is going to be with software support and interoperability. The current proposal includes that the fromLookTransformWorkingSpace and toLookTransformWorkingSpace are specified as Color Space Conversions transforms. I saw earlier in the thread Alex updated S-2014-002 to allow for user-supplied CSCs. I am wondering how all of this comes together. Many applications have already implemented a lot of these transformations, and they will need to map those functions with these transformIDs, and somehow ensure they accurately reflect them. Does a user-supplied transform need to be uploaded to the ACES github? Who provides reference images for these so every application knows they’ve implemented them properly? What happens when an application receives AMFs referencing a user-supplied LMT working space that it doesn’t support? Does that user need an emergency special build of the software? Or are we back to the same pain we’ve always been in w/o AMF, by manually communicating intentions and digging up the right files to fill out the color recipe?
I’m also concerned this will inevitably lead to different apps performing different to/from transforms, and generate paranoia around relying on AMF workflows. CDLs + LUTs are tedious, but at least you always get the same image out once you’ve stuck them in the correct order.
If we want to look at things like ASC CDL as an inspiration for metadata-driven specifications, maybe it’s worth trying to simplify AMF if we can, and consider removing this to/from transform flexibility. This would leave all of this up to the LMT itself, as expected by the TB-2014-010 document. I’ll end with a quote from the 2017 paper that argues for simplification of ACESclip:
“The ACESclip file format attempts to achieve many things at the same time which is likely another factor slowing down its adoption.”
Out of all the current components of AMF, I would reckon the concept of interpreting and mapping to/from transforms for the LMT working space will be high on the list of slowing down AMF adoption. Again, I’m a bit torn myself on this, but I wanted to unload all of the scrutiny I can before the bell rings.
To preface, I know many industry folks that will be reading this spec whom are not native English speakers. I decided to pick apart most paragraphs and simplify the vocabulary and grammar as much as possible so it is a smoother read. For myself as well!
• Output Transform – on what display was this viewed?
This is completely pedantic, but ODT does not tell us what display was used, it tells it the calibration of the display that was used for viewing. Maybe change this to:
• Output Transform – how was this viewed on a display?
For production, carriage of this information is crucial in order to unambiguously exchange ACES images, looks, and overall creative intent through its various stages (e.g. on-set, dailies, editorial, VFX, finishing).
For archival, storage of this information is crucial in order to form a record of creative intent for historical and remastering purposes.
This is reading awkwardly for me. Also, maybe it’s better to avoid hamstringing the specification by being specific to motion picture production? Suggestion:
To maintain consistent color appearance, transporting this information is crucial. Additionally, this information serves as an unambiguous archive of the creative intent.
An AMF may be associated with a single frame or clip. Additionally, it may remain unassociated with an image, and existing purely as a translation of an ACES viewing pipeline, or creative look, that could be applied to any image.
Attempt to reword for clarity:
An AMF may have a specified association with a single frame or clip. Alternatively, it may exist without any association to an image, and one may apply it to an image. An application of an AMF to an image would translate its viewing pipeline to the target image.
In Figure 1, the element names are extremely squished. Can the RRT + ODT blocks be arranged top down so that these element names can be presented larger?
5 Use Cases
In cases where the looks are stored external to the AMF, the files must be assigned a valid ACES LMT TransformID.
“ACES LMT TransformID”: I’m being pedantic, but it doesn’t help a newbie if they try to search this phrase in the spec and get no other results. The later part of the spec states this as “lookTransform” and “transformID”. Can this sentence at least refer to the relevant section: 220.127.116.11. Or, maybe this sentence can just be removed completely, since it’s a little overkill for the use cases section? Why state LMTs need a transformID, but not IDTs, ODTs, etc…
5.1 Look Development
Developing a creative look before photography can be done to produce a pre-adjusted reference for on-set monitoring. This may happen in pre-production at a post facility, during camera testing, or on-set during production. Typically, this has involved meticulous communication of necessary files and their intention, which may include a viewing transform, CDL grades, or more. The viewing transform, commonly referred to as a “Show LUT,” can vary in naming convention, LUT format, input/output color space, and full/legal range scaling. Exchanging files in this way obfuscates the creative intention of their application, due to lack of metadata or standards surrounding their creation.
I’ve tried to simplify this:
The development of a creative look before the commencement of production is common. Production uses this look to produce a pre-adjusted reference for on-set monitoring. The creative look may be a package of files containing a viewing transform (also known as a “Show LUT”), CDL grades, or more. There are no consistent standards specifying how to produce them, and exchanging them is complex due to lack of metadata.
AMF can store a creative look in order to be shared with a production to automatically recreate the look for on-set monitoring. A common way to produce a creative look in an ACES workflow is the creation of an LMT (Look Modification Transform), which separates the look from the standard ACES transforms. Further, AMF can include references to multiple LMTs, while ensuring they are all applied in the correct order to the image.
Attempt to simplify wording:
AMF contains the ability to completely specify the application of a creative look. This automates the exchange of these files and the recreation of the look when applying the AMF. In an ACES workflow, one specifies the creative look as one or more Look Modification Transforms. AMF can include references to any number of these transforms, and maintains their order of operations.
5.2 On Set
On-set grading software with AMF support can load or generate AMFs based on the viewing pipeline selected and any creative look adjustments done by the DIT or DoP.
On-set color grading software can load or generate AMFs, allowing the communication of the color adjustments created on set.
The AMF (or collection of AMFs) from on-set should be shared with dailies in order to be applied to the OCF (original camera files) and generate proxies or other dailies deliverables. Methodologies of exchange between on-set and dailies may vary, sometimes being done using ALE or EDLs depending on the workflow preferences of the project.
It is possible, or even likely, that AMFs are updated in the dailies stage. For example, a dailies colorist may choose to balance shots at this stage and update CDLs or LMTs. Another example could be that on-set monitoring was done using an HDR ODT and dailies is generating proxies using an SDR ODT.
Attempt to simplify:
Dailies can apply AMFs from production to the camera files to reproduce the same images seen on set. There is no single method of exchange between production and dailies. AMFs should be agnostic to the given exchange method.
It is possible, or even likely, that one will update AMFs in the dailies stage. For example, a dailies colorist may choose to balance shots at this stage and update CDLs or LMTs. Another example could be that dailies uses a different ODT than the one used in on-set monitoring.
It may be that AMFs are tracked the same way that CDLs and LUTs are tracked today (such as ALE or EDL), until more robust methods exist such as embedding metadata in the various formats used.
I think this sentence “dates” the spec too much. It reads more like an article by talking about the past/present/future. I think the main point here is that defining exchange has been decided to be out-of-scope of this spec, so I think it helps to make that clear. Suggestion:
This specification does not define how one should transport AMFs between stages. Existing exchange formats may reference them, or image files themselves may embed them. One may also transport AMFs independently of any other files.
A powerful use case of AMF is the complete and unambiguous communication of the ACES viewing pipelines or ’color recipe’ of shots being sent out for VFX work.
As with on-set, this is commonly done in a bespoke manner with combinations of CDLs and LUTs in various file formats in order for VFX facilities to be able to recreate the look seen in dailies and editorial.
AMFs should be sent alongside outgoing VFX plates and describe how to view the shot along with any creative look that it associated with the shot (CDL or LUT).
Attempt to set this up better and simplify:
The exchange of shots for VFX work requires perfect translation of each shot’s viewing pipeline, or ‘color recipe’. If the images cannot be accurately reproduced from VFX plates, effects will be created with an incorrect reference.
AMF provides a complete and unambiguous translation of ACES viewing pipelines. If they travel with VFX plates, they can describe how to view each plate along with any associated looks.
VFX software should have the ability to read AMF as a template for configuring its internal viewing pipeline. Given the prevalence of OpenColorIO in the VFX software space, it is likely that AMF will inform choices of OCIO configuration in order to replicate the ACES viewing pipeline described in the AMF.
Attempt to simplify:
VFX software should have the ability to read AMF to configure its internal viewing pipeline. Or, AMF will inform the configuration of third party color management software, such as OpenColorIO.
This would give the colorist or artist a starting point which is representative of the creative intent of the filmmakers thus far, at which point they may focus their time on new creative avenues, rather than spending time trying to recreate prior work done.
Attempt to simplify:
AMF can seamlessly provide the colorist a starting point that is consistent with the creative intent of the filmmakers on-set. This removes any necessity to recreate a starting look from scratch.