Tech groups craft upgrade

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Science and Technology Council and the American Society of Cinematographers' Technology Committee have completed a joint project that brought together parties from production, post and manufacturing and has led to a far-reaching technology development.

The "Common File Format for Look-Up Tables" will be launched Saturday at the National Association of Broadcasters Show's Digital Cinema Summit in Las Vegas. A look-up table, or LUT, is a file format used to convey color appearance information between different technologies, such as digital cameras and color grading systems.

Jim Houston, chairman of the joint project committee, said a large number of equipment makers are using LUTs, creating an explosion of unique vendor-specific LUT file formats that often are only trivially different from one another. But there has not been a common method for interchanging LUT files.

LUTs have a growing importance in production. Director of photography David Stump, who co-chairs the ASC Technology Committee's metadata subcommittee, said the group identified no fewer than 40 different LUTs in use today.

With the new development, the Sci-Tech Council and the ASC Technology Committee aim to simplify the process of exchanging LUT information. The participants also believe it has the potential to become a digital archival element.

Version 1 of the tables will be distributed at NAB. The presentation will include a call for participation for a prototype implementors group as well as a request for feedback.
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