Color code has ASC in the pink

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As more digital imagery travels from one platform to another, new industrywide software code has been developed to ensure that colors remain correct.

After a massive collaborative effort and more than two years of work, the American Society of Cinematographers has completed version 1.0 of its Color Decision List, commonly referred to as the ASC CDL, and will release it next week.

The code essentially is an exchange mechanism for color correction information. "This means it is possible to create a color correction and move the color and picture to a different (technology) and get the same look, " said Post Logic Studios colorist Lou Levinson, who chairs the digital intermediate subcommittee of the ASC Technology Committee, which led the effort.

"The core idea was, 'How do you get something to look the same in two places and on two different platforms?' We tried to take a very small piece of the look management problem and wrestle it under control." The result has applications for both production and post.

"This is an exchange mechanism; it is not a way to guarantee that things will look the same everywhere," Levinson added.

DP Curtis Clark, who chairs the ASC Technology Committee, said that the user also needs to ensure implementation compliance and establish correct display calibrations as well as the proper color space parameters of the imaging system.

Clark also said the development was based on a shared vision and objective between members of the community.

The achievement was met with applause when Clark and Levinson reported the development during Wednesday night's ASC Technology Committee meeting, which occurred on the eve of the opening of Cine Gear Expo in Los Angeles.

"This is the culmination of a lot of people putting in a lot of time and effort, even though it is deceptively simple," Levinson said. Heavily involved were digital intermediate sub committee vice chair Joshua Pines, vp imaging R&D at Technicolor Digital Intermediates, and ASC Technology Committee secretary and industry consultant David Reiser. The committee includes members of the ASC, the post community, vendors and other industry participants.

A group of contributors from the manufacturing community had been working toward supporting the CDL in their products. They include Avid, Autodesk, da Vinci, Digital Vision/Nucoda, DVS, Filmlight, Gamma & Density, Iridas, Pandora, Rising Sun Research, Silicon Color/Apple and Thomson.

During the ASC CDL development period, significant testing occurred during major trade shows including the 2006 and '07 National Association of Broadcasters Conventions and the 2006 International Broadcasting Convention.

Levinson said that version 1.0 primarily is a wide release for the vendors, intended to begin a sort of beta phase to ensure implementation across the various platforms. Development will continue.

"We need to be sure it is implemented the best way we can so that people get the full benefit of what this is capable of doing," Clark said.
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