Journal of Imaging: ACES: A Professional Color-Management Framework for Production, Post-Production and Archival of Still and Motion Pictures

Forgive me if this has been posted before, but I just came across @walter.arrighetti’s incredibly thorough and extremely intelligible ACES review in the Journal of Imaging’s Color Image Processing special issue (full-text freely available). Fantastic work, Walter!

The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES): A Professional Color-Management Framework for Production, Post-Production and Archival of Still and Motion Pictures

by Walter Arrighetti
J. Imaging 2017, 3(4), 40; doi:10.3390/jimaging3040040

Abstract: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been pivotal in the inception, design and later adoption of a vendor-agnostic and open framework for color management, the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), targeting theatrical, TV and animation features, but also still-photography and image preservation at large. For this reason, the Academy gathered an interdisciplinary group of scientists, technologists, and creatives, to contribute to it so that it is scientifically sound and technically advantageous in solving practical and interoperability problems in the current film production, postproduction and visual-effects (VFX) ecosystem—all while preserving and future-proofing the cinematographers’ and artists’ creative intent as its main objective. In this paper, a review of ACES’ technical specifications is provided, as well as the current status of the project and a recent use case is given, namely that of the first Italian production embracing an end-to-end ACES pipeline. In addition, new ACES components will be introduced and a discussion started about possible uses for long-time preservation of color imaging in video-content heritage.

Full Text freely available directly from MDPI.


Thanks for citing this reference @zachlewis,
I am so happy that it proved to be both throrough and intelligible, as this is its main rationale. The Journal of Imaging is an open-access publication, so this paper can be viewed online and downloaded as a PDF, as are all contributions published by MDPI.

I hope this review paper contributes to both communicate ACES to wider and wider communities, and enhance the comprehension of concepts and methodologies which we’ve been trying to adhere to when designing versions 1.0 onwards.

The review both explains the “theory” behind this color framework, but also delves deeply into real-world practical usage of it.
It also reports how ACES was used for an actual production which I had the opportunity to supervise, as color-scientist and main software developer, while serving as CTO for the company that provided postproduction and VFX services for that film (the first Italian full-feature to have an end-to-end ACES pipeline: from photography, to VFX, to color-finishing).

Just a warning:
the paper has an extensive first part (Section 2) quickly describing post-production pipelines and their color-management challenges, without particular references to ACES. I chose to do this with the intent of familiarizing readers from outside (post-)production/VFX community with the particular issues that ACES is trying to solve.
Thefefore, most readers from ACEScentral might want to skip directly Section 2 for Section 3.


This is a fantastic resource. So clear and thorough. Thanks so much. It’s proving incredibly useful

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