Since the earliest days of the motion picture industry, scientists, engineers and filmmakers have collaborated on advancing the technologies that make motion pictures the most dynamic of art forms. Frame rates, aspect ratios, sound formats, digital production and projection – all of these evolutionary developments require common standards for industry-wide adoption.
More than a decade ago, the Academy recognized the need for digital motion picture production and archiving standards. Just as it did with Academy Aperture, Academy Leader, the Academy Sound Curve and other pioneering technical developments, the Academy convened a group of expert scientists, engineers and filmmakers to develop the Academy Color Encoding System.
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 insures 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 early 2015.
License Terms for ACES Components
ACES software and tools are provided by the Academy under the following terms and conditions: A worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive right to copy, modify, create derivatives, and use, in source and binary forms, is hereby granted, subject to acceptance of this license. Performance of any of the aforementioned acts indicates acceptance to be bound by the following terms and conditions:
Copyright © 2014 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.). Portions contributed by others as indicated. All rights reserved.
- Copies of source code, in whole or in part, must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the Disclaimer of Warranty.
- Use in binary form must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the Disclaimer of Warranty in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.
- Nothing in this license shall be deemed to grant any rights to trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets or any other intellectual property of A.M.P.A.S. or any contributors, except as expressly stated herein.
- Neither the name “A.M.P.A.S.” nor the name of any other contributors to this software may be used to endorse or promote products derivative of or based on this software without express prior written permission of A.M.P.A.S. or the contributors, as appropriate.
This license shall be construed pursuant to the laws of the State of California, and any disputes related thereto shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts therein.
Disclaimer of Warranty: THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY A.M.P.A.S. AND CONTRIBUTORS “AS IS” AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL A.M.P.A.S., OR ANY CONTRIBUTORS OR DISTRIBUTORS, BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, RESTITUTIONARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, THE ACADEMY SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WHATSOEVER RELATED TO PATENT OR OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN ACES, OR APPLICATIONS THEREOF, HELD BY PARTIES OTHER THAN A.M.P.A.S., WHETHER DISCLOSED OR UNDISCLOSED.
Acceptable Use Policy
ACES Developer Resources
Your use of the public discussion medium (collectively, the “ACES Developer Resources”) made available by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (“A.M.P.A.S.”) indicates your acceptance of the Legal Regulations and the Terms and Conditions of Use of A.M.P.A.S. websites that are posted at www.oscars.org/legal/ and also the terms of this Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”). The AUP can be modified at any time, and your continued use of the ACES Developer Resources indicates your acceptance of the modified terms as published to this site. Specific ACES Developer Resources may have other terms of service, available at the respective sites, in addition to those found in this agreement. A.M.P.A.S. advises you to review any and all such terms of service.
Please remember that the open and real-time nature of these ACES Developer Resources makes it impossible for us to vouch for the validity of any content posted. As such, we are not responsible for any messages, nor the consequences of following any advice offered, within forum posts. The views expressed in the posts in the ACES Developer Resources belong solely to their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of A.M.P.A.S. or its affiliates. If you find that any posts in these ACES Developer Resources are offensive or objectionable, or infringe upon any copyright, trademark, trade secret or similar rights, please contact us via e-mail at email@example.com and cc the contact address offered for the ACES Developer Resources item in question. If we determine that removal of a post or posts is necessary, we will make reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner.
By using these ACES Developer Resources, you agree to the following:
- By posting messages, uploading files, inputting data, or engaging in any other form of communication through this service (collectively “the content”), you are granting A.M.P.A.S., its successors and assignees a royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to use, transmit, publicly perform or display any such content on the site to which it was contributed (or to its successor site). In plain English, you allow us to continue to display your contributions to the site. We won’t do anything else with them, however.
- If you contribute any graphic images or photographs, you accept all liability for any third-party releases required for use of such content. Please do not submit any images or photographs for which you do not have a current model or property release.
- You will not post any material that is knowingly false, misleading, defamatory or inaccurate.
- You will not behave in an abusive and/or hateful manner, and will not harass, threaten or attack anyone.
- You will not use profanity in our ACES Developer Resources, and will not post language or content that is obscene, sexually oriented, or sexually suggestive, or link to sites that contain such content.
- You will respect other people’s right to personal privacy and will not post any other person’s identifying information (including their names, contact information and any other relevant information) within the forum.
- You will not use these ACES Developer Resources to violate any laws or discuss illegal activities.
- You will not impersonate any person or entity, forge headers, or otherwise manipulate identifiers in order to disguise the origin of any posting, nor will you collect or store personal data about other users.
- You will not post any copyrighted material or link to any copyrighted material (with the exception of publicly available sites and pages whose legal copyright owners have created to make that material freely available to the general public), unless that copyright is owned by you or by the ACES Developer Resources.
- You will not use the ACES Developer Resources to share or distribute viruses, licenses, registration information, software keys, “cracks” or other information designed to do harm to, or allow unlawful access to, any computer hardware, software, networks or any other systems.
- You will not post advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes or solicitations, all of which are prohibited in the ACES Developer Resources. Furthermore, you will not collect personal information about forum members for the purpose of sending them any such advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes or solicitations through other means (e-mail, messaging programs, etc.).
- You will not post messages that are clearly outside of the stated topic of any forum, nor disrupt a forum by deliberately posting repeated irrelevant messages or copies of identical messages (also known as “flooding”).
- You will not attempt to access any protected sections of the sites or ACES Developer Resources, or make use of any hacks, cracks, bug exploits, etc., to bypass or modify the features of the forum software at any A.M.P.A.S. site.
- You will, if asked by an administrator of the ACES Developer Resources, cease posting any content, and/or links to content, deemed offensive, objectionable or in poor taste by the ACES Developer Resources administrators.
A.M.P.A.S. is not responsible for reviewing any user messages and does not accept responsibility for their contents. We reserve the right to delete any message and/or restrict posting rights in the ACES Developer Resources for any reason whatsoever. Should you post messages that violate the rules of the ACES Developer Resources, your account may be terminated, your access to the ACES Developer Resources may be banned, and your service provider(s) may be contacted about your behavior. Furthermore, we expressly reserve our rights under the law to take any other actions we deem necessary.
A.M.P.A.S. reserves the right to disclose personal information when A.M.P.A.S. believes such action is required by law, when such action is necessary to comply with a legal process served on A.M.P.A.S., to protect and defend the rights or property of A.M.P.A.S., to identify persons who may be violating the law or the rights of third parties, and to cooperate with government authority investigations of purported unlawful activities.
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 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.
ACES Announcemnt / Academy 'VFX Bake-Off'
January 10, 2015