Making Thor:Ragnarok

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Thanks to ACES Product Partner Codex for the “shout out” on the use of ACES in this epic film!


It really looked great from dailies to the final DI due to the ACES pipeline management.


Good to hear you liked it! This project was my first foray into ACES and it was very successful from a workflow point of view.

My main takeaway was the need to engage the post-house in the process early on - we finished our DI with Steve Scott and his team at Technicolor but we engaged Josh and Mike Dillon early on - and to make sure you have an end-to-end plan including scanning, CDLs, avid dailies, pre-grading etc. before you start.

We also employed an LMT - Look Management Transform for those who haven’t run into it - which I think is the real attraction to ACES from a creative viewpoint. Considering the familiarity and general appreciation many of us have for the ‘classic’ Alexa look, K1S1, especially the skin-tones, we plugged that look into the pipeline so we were able to embrace this new technology but to still have one foot in a familiar world. I’m excited to explore more interesting creative looks using the LMT in future; I think this is the Undiscovered Country.

Finally, and this is admittedly a little niche, the fact that we switched to an ACES EXR delivery (vs logCv3 DPXs) meant that we could take advantage of multiple embedded mattes within the imagery. Considering we completed nearly 2,700 VFX shots for the film (approaching 98% of the movie) with 18 VFX Vendors across the world, the challenge to have the movie hang together consistently from a colour point of view was enormous.

Even such ‘simple’ things are being able to instantly isolate Hulk’s green (two different vendors worked on him) across the movie, or tweak the colour of our director’s CG avatar (the rock monster Korg) without having to pull keys was huge. Add to that a significant amount of re-balancing and stylization applied to our alien worlds and the mattes were a life saver at 5 minutes to midnight in the final delivery.

If anyone reading has any specific questions about how we went about the colour for the show, please feel free to ask. ACES is an open framework, not a constricting black-box pipeline, and the more of us that embrace this as a standard, the simpler it will be to implement and once that happens we can concentrate on the creative side of making beautiful imagery!

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Was your “K1S1 style” LMT based around an ARRI K1S1 LUT, or built more from scratch to match the look without restricting dynamic range for the HDR deliverable?

It was directly based on the Arri LUT, no special treatment given for HDR, given that we knew we would do a separate HDR grade.