What is ACES?
The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) is becoming the industry standard for managing color throughout the life cycle of a motion picture or television production. From image capture through editing, VFX, mastering, public presentation, archiving and future remastering, ACES ensures a consistent color experience that preserves the filmmaker’s creative vision. In addition to the creative benefits, ACES addresses and solves a number of significant production, post-production and archiving problems that have arisen with the increasing variety of digital cameras and formats in use, as well as the surge in the number of productions that rely on worldwide collaboration using shared digital image files.
ACES is a free, open, device-independent color management and image interchange system that can be applied to almost any current or future workflow. It was developed by hundreds of the industry’s top scientists, engineers and end users, working together under the auspices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
ACES 1.0 is the first production-ready release of the system, the result of over 10 years of research, testing and field trials. It includes support for a wide variety of digital and film-based production workflows, visual effects, animation and archiving.
What problems does ACES 1.0 solve?
Today’s motion pictures and television shows are complex collaborative efforts, involving many separate companies using digital image capture, image creation and editorial workflows that are much more difficult to integrate than film-based workflows.
On a typical production there might be three or four different digital cameras as well as a film camera in use, all recording to different devices and media using different data formats. During post-production, especially on major motion pictures, multiple facilities may be engaged for editing, visual effects, mastering and other work. Digital image files arrive at these facilities in any of a dozen (or more!) formats and color encoding schemes, often without essential metadata. At the end of the process, studio deliverables could range from large-screen film prints to mobile device encodings.
All along the way, the integration challenges increase – and on the horizon there are undoubtedly emerging technologies and new all-digital distribution platforms that will add complexities of their own.
ACES 1.0 solves numerous integration challenges by enabling consistent, high-quality color management from production to distribution. It provides digital image encoding and other specifications that preserve the latitude and color range of the original imagery, allowing the highest-quality images possible from the cameras and processes used. Equally important, ACES 1.0 establishes a common standard so deliverables can be efficiently and predictably created and preserved. ACES 1.0 enables filmmakers to manage the look of a production today and into the future.
What are the benefits of ACES 1.0 for specific users?
Virtually everyone involved in production, post-production and archiving can enjoy ACES benefits.
For cinematographers, colorists and digital imaging technicians, ACES 1.0 preserves creative intent from on-set capture to presentation by:
- Eliminating uncertainty between on-set look management and downstream color correction through standardized viewing transforms and equipment calibration methods
- Preserving the full range of highlights, shadows and colors captured on set for use throughout post-production and mastering
- Simplifying the matching of images from different cameras
- Providing a means to repurpose source materials when creating alternate deliverables
For visual effects and other post-production facilities, ACES 1.0 streamlines digital workflows by:
- Simplifying the interchange of unfinished motion picture imagery
- Providing a standard color management architecture that can be shared by hardware and software vendors
- Eliminating uncertainty associated with undocumented or poorly documented file formats and color encodings
- Establishing standards for metadata
For producers and studios, ACES 1.0 reduces production costs and enables future-proofed archiving by:
- Providing a free, open source color and look management architecture that can be shared by vendors whose hardware and software products are used on set and in post-production
- Ensuring digital assets can be repurposed to take advantage of future high-dynamic-range, wide-color-gamut display devices
- Ensuring the archive contains the highest fidelity digital source master possible, representing the digital equivalent of the “finished negative”
ACES 1.0 Key Features
ACES 1.0 is a color management and image interchange system designed for production, mastering and long-term archiving of motion pictures. It is the first complete, production-ready public release of the Academy Color Encoding System. Its key features include:
- Preservation of available exposure latitude and color range of digital motion picture cameras and film negative for use throughout the production pipeline
- Consistent and predictable display of images on a wide range of display devices
- Support for consistent on-set image preview and look management
- Portable color pipeline configuration, pre-grade and look management information
- Archive-ready digital image file format and metadata
ACES is an extensible system that enables innovation. It will grow with evolving filmmaking technologies, tools and techniques.
ACES 1.0 Product Information
The goal of the ACES 1.0 release is to encourage and accelerate adoption by enabling more consistent, user-friendly product implementations and by providing suitable support and educational materials to equipment manufacturers, service providers and end users.
The ACES 1.0 Developer Release is now available. The first products with integrated ACES 1.0 support are expected to be announced during the first quarter of 2015, with a concurrent rollout of end-user education and support.
The ACES 1.0 release includes the following components:
- Core ACES color transformation implemented in the Color Transformation Language (CTL), an open source software library and utilities available from the Academy
- Documentation on the expected use of these transforms
- Technical specifications for other ACES core components
- Documentation for implementers and end users
- Test images in a variety of color encodings and formats, demonstrating the results of applying core ACES transformations
- OpenColorIO (OCIO) configuration package for core ACES transforms. Click here
Source code and documentation bundle:
Source code and documentation repository:
What is an ACES Product Partner?
An ACES Product Partner is a company that supports ACES in its products and/or services.
What is the ACES Logo program?
The Academy is developing a program to encourage consistent and high-quality implementation of ACES concepts and technical specifications.
The Logo Program will initially focus on production and post-production equipment and tools. This is the first step in enabling facilities and productions to take full advantage of ACES.
Detailed information on the ACES Logo Program, including how to apply, will be available in Q2 2015.
Product Partner Support
Support for the ACES 1.0 Developer Release is available from a number of sources:
Product documentation available with the ACES 1.0 Developer Release
There are a number of important documents that guide you through the process of implementing ACES 1.0. We urge you to review these documents carefully.
For developers familiar with pre-release versions of ACES, we have created a detailed change list since the most recent pre-release version:
detailed change list.pdf
ACES public discussion forum
A public discussion forum where developers and end users can ask questions of the community and search for answers to issues that others might have faced.
ACES Discussion Group
Github issues feature
A public source code repository where you can report specific issues found with the Developer Release code and/or documentation. Use this mechanism for code or script issues, or suggested future enhancement.
E-mail support for Product Partners
Existing and potential Product Partners can e-mail questions or issues regarding the implementation of any of the ACES 1.0 components.
Product Partners, facilities or filmmakers may send emails to the Academy with suggestions for highlighting ACES in productions and products via Case Studies or other means.
End user Support
A number of productions have successfully used pre-release versions of ACES. The ACES 1.0 Developer Release is primarily intended to enable Product Partners (camera manufacturers, color correctors, VFX software providers, display manufacturers, etc.) to integrate ACES into their products so that motion picture and television professionals can easily take advantage of ACES. If you are a director, director of photography, digital imaging technician, VFX or post-production facility, editor, colorist, archivist, or other production or post-production professional, and have specific questions on how to use ACES on an upcoming project, please contact us. We will try to facilitate your efforts.
ACES Product Partners
The following companies are supporting the adoption of the Academy Color Encoding System, and have applied to the ACES Logo Program for one or more of their products.
|Logo Product Partner||Product Group(s)|
|Deluxe Media Creative Services||On-set|
|Digital Vision||Color Corrector|
|FUJIFILM North America||Inline Signal Processor|
|Light Illusion||Color Tool|
|Pomfort||Inline Signal Processor|
|RED Digital Cinema||Camera|
|Shotgun Software||Content Mgmt. System|
ACES is an industry-wide collaboration under the auspices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Hundreds of individuals and dozens of companies have contributed – and continue to contribute – to the scientific, technical and real-world testing required to make ACES the industry-standard color management and image interchange system.
On behalf of the entire industry, the Academy and ACES Project Leadership wish to thank the following companies and organizations for their contributions to ACES development and testing:
ACES Project Committee Co-chairs
Ray Feeney Jim Houston
ACES 1.0 Specification and Technical Document Volunteer Leads
The Academy also wishes to acknowledge the many individual contributors that participated in the development of ACES 1.0
Please note: nothing herein expresses or implies an endorsement of any company, production or individual by A.M.P.A.S.
The Academy and our Education Partners are developing a full slate of educational and training programs around ACES. Please check back soon for more details.
ACES Launches at NAB 2015 with a full schedule of product announcements, presentations, discussions and information available from the Academy and our ACES Product Partners.
ACES Announcemnt / Academy 'VFX Bake-Off'
January 10, 2015
87th Scientific & Technical Awards
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs
February 7, 2015