Academy Launches ACES Color Management System

The system, tested on productions including 'The Lego Movie,' will be presented at the NAB Show.
Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP
Richard Edlund

Representing years of work and the efforts of hundreds of Hollywood’s technology leaders and filmmakers, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is launching the Academy Color Encoding System, referred to as ACES, which is a free, device-independent color management and image interchange system.

The purpose of ACES is to create a way to ensure consistent colors — preserving the filmmakers creative intent — in a movie or TV series from production through editing, visual effects, mastering, public presentation, archiving and future remastering.

It might sound simple, but color-consistency problems have arisen in production, postproduction and archiving with the increasing variety of digital cameras and formats in use, along with the surge in the number of productions that rely on collaboration between multiple facilities around the world using shared digital image files.

The next step is teaching filmmakers how ACES can be used in the various departments. To that end, the Academy will have an exhibit at the National Association of Broadcasters Show, April 11-16 in Las Vegas. It will also make ACES presentations at the convention’s Technology Summit on Cinema and Creative Master Series.

“A decade ago, the Academy recognized the need for a new set of infrastructure standards as the industry moved from film to digital,” said Richard Edlund, Academy governor and founding member of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council, in a statement. “We made a deep commitment to the effort — coordinating hundreds of top industry scientists, engineers and filmmakers on years of research, testing and field trials — so we’re both proud and excited to launch ACES 1.0 as the first production-ready release of the system.”

As a broad effort, development has been a frequent topic in engineering and production circles; During its trial period, ACES has been used on numerous film and TV productions including The Lego Movie, Chappie and Oblivion.

The Academy is also introducing an ACES Logo program for supported production and postproduction equipment such as cameras, color-grading systems, displays and VFX and animation software. There are 22 companies already in the program, including ARRI, Assimilate, Autodesk, Canon U.S.A., Codex, Colorfront, Deluxe, Digital Vision, Dolby Laboratories, FilmLight, FotoKem, The Foundry, Fujifilm, Light Illusion, MTI Film, Panasonic, Pomfort, Quantel, Red, SGO, Shotgun Digital and Sony Electronics.

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