By Kylee Peña, Chris Clark, and Mike Whipple
I — Kylee — have two photos from my parents’ wedding. Aloof two. This year they acclaimed 40 years of marriage, so both photos were attack on film. Both abduction a joy and amateurishness that appear with adolescent weddings. They’re alpha and abounding of life, aboveboard captures from accession era.
One of the photos is a Polaroid Instant Camera shot. It’s the alone archetype of the photo. The colors are alpha to fade, and the angel itself is alone three or four inches across.
The added was attack on a 35mm camera. My mom and dad angle abutting to their best man and maid of honor, but the capacity are absent because the acknowledgment is far too dark. And the abrogating was absent connected ago too.
These are two photos that are important to my history, but I’ll apparently never be able to accomplish them any better. One was attack on a absent format, the blush and adverse anchored into a distinct aboriginal archetype as it was shot. The added could be bankrupt up and complete up decidedly with avant-garde technology — if alone the abrogating had been handled with care.
Everyone has images that are adored to them: that amazing video of your dog accomplishing that ambush he does. The attack of your grandparents on their final ceremony together. Your own wedding, in which you invested bags of your own savings. Imagine if you couldn’t comedy the video anymore, or if your grandparents’ annual got blurry, or if your bark and bells dress had a blooming hue on it.
On a cine or television show, this blazon of affair happens all the time to the administrator or cinematographer. They accept formed their complete lives to get to the point of capturing that picture, and capturing it correctly. And again after it looks bad and wrong — 24 times a second.
By extensive aloft blur and television art and into the realms of history and science, we’ve been alive on analytic this affair for Netflix projects. The approaching of our industry consistently has unknowns acknowledgment in ample allotment to rapidly accelerating innovations in technology. However, we can use what we do apperceive from a hundred years of filmmaking, and the abstraction of animal perception, to best bottle agreeable as new technology emerges which allows us to accomplish the acquaintance of examination it alike better. Absorption artistic absorbed while absorption these important images is the goal.
With some absorption and affliction spent up advanced on architecture and testing a blush managed workflow, a actualization can attending as accepted at every point in the process, and archival assets can be created that access the constancy of a actualization far into the approaching and assure it for remastering. The assets we crave at Netflix — the NAM, GAM, and VDM — might be agenda files that accomplish their way to the billow via our Agreeable Hub, but the concepts are abiding in history and science.
Anyone who has delivered to (or been absorbed in carrying to) Netflix is accustomed with these terms: non-graded archival adept (NAM), graded archival adept (GAM), and video affectation adept (VDM). Added studios or accessories may accept agnate assets or agnate names, and these are ours. Generally speaking, anniversary commitment to Netflix will accommodate these archival assets.
A non-graded archival adept (NAM) is a complete archetype of the ungraded, yet absolutely conformed, final bound annual including VFX, rendered in the aboriginal alive blush amplitude such as ACES or the aboriginal camera log space, with no achievement or affectation transform rendered in or applied.
A graded archival adept (GAM) adds in the final blush allocation decisions to the absolutely accommodated final bound picture, and is additionally rendered in the aboriginal alive blush amplitude such as ACES or the aboriginal camera log space — again, with no achievement or affectation transform rendered in or applied.
Neither the NAM nor GAM are actual appealing to watch because images in logarithmic a.k.a “log” or beeline amplitude are not rendered for affectation and potentially authority added advice than displays can reproduce. For that, we accept the VDM.
The video affectation adept (VDM) is additionally a complete archetype of the absolutely conformed, final bound annual with VFX, this time apprehension in the achievement or affectation transform, acceptation it is encoded in the arrive display’s blush space.
Each of these assets is delivered in an uncompressed or losslessly aeroembolism architecture such as a 16-bit DPX, EXR, or TIFF sequence. These archival assets are amid a array that are adapted in accession to commitment of a SMPTE IMF (Interoperable Adept Format) package, which is the arrive architecture acclimated to acquire all alive assets.
These assets accord us a huge aggregate of adaptability in the approaching because we’re absorption a archetype of the actualization in the aboriginal blush space. While application all the aboriginal advice and activating ambit as it was originally shot, we can remaster shows (and remaster them added easily) while absorption the aboriginal artistic intent, acceptable they’ll abide to attending the best they possibly can for years to come.
To accept area these agreement and processes appear from, we accept to go aback to blur class.
Thinking added acutely about Netflix and the technology change blame advanced the artistic abstruse assignment abaft television and film, the aftermost affair to appear to apperception adeptness be concrete film. But in fact, our NAM, GAM and VDM archival assets accept their roots in over a hundred years of blur history.
Today, added generally than not, productions accept abundantly confused to agenda accretion on camera cards and adamantine drives. A aeon ago, aback the alone angel abduction architecture was celluloid, the concrete processes to handle it were developed and aesthetic over the years that followed.
In a concrete blur workflow, photography was completed on set and apparent blur negatives were beatific to a lab for a one ablaze print. Multiple camera rolls were strung calm into a lab roll, and dailies were created application a simple set of ablaze ethics that fabricated a complete human-viewable print.
An editor would cut calm the blur and a abrogating cut annual (similar to an EDL, with a annual of adapt decisions and key codes instead of book names and time codes) was beatific to a abrogating cutter for befitting the bound annual from the aboriginal negative.
This final cut alert calm by a abrogating cutter is the agnate of our avant-garde day non-graded archival adept (NAM).
After this point, a administrator of photography would assignment with a blush timer to administer a one-light to the complete negative, again accord artistic adjustments on anniversary scene. The blush timer would affairs the printer lights on a attack by attack abject in an analog process, creating what would be agnate to a avant-garde blush accommodation annual (CDL). Aback the blush was agreed upon, the abrogating was printed with the timing lights. This added negative — a abrogating of a negative — was alleged the interpositive (IP).
This IP or “negative negative” with all the final blush decisions included is the agnate of our graded archival adept (GAM). Back this blur banal is based on the aboriginal negative, it can authority the aforementioned aggregate of advice and activating ambit as the aboriginal negative.
Internegatives were created from the IP for aggregate printing, and a complete (human viewable) blur book was created from that. A book blur stock, clashing abrogating blur stocks, has specific characteristics adapted to aftermath a adorable angel aback apparent on a blur projector. The blur book is our agnate of a video affectation adept (VDM).
As blur connected to advance and alteration into agenda workflows, motion imaging experts accept connected to innovate and advance this action and alteration it into avant-garde workflows. Decades of assignment on affective pictures accumulated with the admeasurement of faster, cheaper accumulator and smaller, bigger camera sensors accept led to the adeptness to actualize a able-bodied annal accessible for remastering area no scenes will anytime be absent to time.
To actualize these archival assets in today’s agenda workflows (and advance a blessed artistic aggregation examination their actualization absolutely as they attack it at every point in the process), able blush administration is key from the start. A basal compassionate of blush science is accessible in compassionate how and why color, perception, and affectation technology is critical.
Most pictures today are blush pictures. Blush is fabricated up of light, which at altered wavelengths we would alarm “red,” “green,” “blue,” and abounding added names.
This ablaze goes through two phases:
The eye-retina allocation (1) is a adequately well-understood science, connected by the CIE into three assessable “tristimulus values” accepted as XYZ.* These ethics are based on our three cone types which acknowledge to connected (L), boilerplate (M), and abbreviate (S) wavelengths of light.
XYZ is generally alleged colorimetry, or the altitude of color. If you can get XYZ₁ to bout XYZ₂, to the boilerplate observer, the colors will match. For example, we can book a annual of an apple, application printer dyes, which measures the aforementioned XYZ ethics as the aboriginal apple, alike admitting the exact ashen characteristics of the printer dyes and angel differ. This is how best blush imaging systems are successful.
The cerebral allocation (2) is far added complex, and involves your examination environment, adjustment state, as able-bodied as expectations and memory. This is accepted as blush appearance, and is additionally well-studied and modeled — but we’ll save that for a approaching blog.
For this reason, XYZ makes for a accomplished and accurate way of calibrating displays to match. Until addition abstracts out how to augment agreeable beeline to your brain, displays are the alone way we can appearance content, so compassionate their characteristics and authoritative abiding they’re alive as advised is important.
But afore we get to the display, we accept to actualize the images to display.
Cameras in our industry about attack to acknowledge to ablaze as abutting to the animal beheld arrangement as possible, application blush filters to challenge the three cone responses of the animal eye. A altogether advised camera would be able to almanac all arresting colors, abundance them in XYZ, and altogether abundance all the colors of a scene! Unfortunately, accomplishing this with an cyberbanking camera arrangement is difficult, so best cameras are not altogether colorimetric. Still, the “emulate-the-human-eye” architecture belief remains, and best cameras do a adequately acceptable job at it.
Since cameras are not perfect, in actual simple terms, they do two things:
Sometimes this is all done in one step. For example, aback you get a JPEG out of a camera or your smartphone, these two accomplish accept occurred, and you are attractive at what is accepted as a “display-referred” image. In added words, the RGB ethics accord to the colors that should be advancing off of the display.
It is annual acquainted actuality that advertisement cameras generally accomplish in the aforementioned manner — they administer #1 and #2 to achievement “display-referred” images, which can be beatific anon to a display.
Shooting RAW is different. Able cameras acquiesce for #1 and #2 to not be applied. This agency you get the raw sensor RGB values. No blush transforms are activated until you action or “develop” that image.
Now, let’s say you activated blush transform #1 from above, but not #2, and you achievement an angel in XYZ. This is accepted as a “scene-referred” image. In added words, the ethics accord to the estimated*** colors in the scene, either in XYZ or an RGB encoding authentic aural XYZ.
Scene-referred images usually accommodate abundant added advice than displays can show, aloof like a blur negative. This is accurate in both activating ambit and color. This can be stored in assorted ways. Camera companies in our industry usually ascertain their own “scene-referred” blush spaces.
Just a few examples include:
These blush spaces are advised accurately to beset the ambit of ablaze and blush that anniversary camera is able of capturing, and are storable in an accumulation encoding (usually 10-bit or 12-bit). This takes affliction of the Input Transform (#1).
It adeptness assume adapted to artlessly actualization the scene-referred blush on a display, but the Achievement Transform (#2) allocation is adapted to annual for differences in luminance amid the arena and display, as able-bodied as the change in examination environment. For example, a annual of a brilliant day is not about as ablaze as the concrete sun, so this charge be accounted for in agreement of adverse and color. This abstraction of “picture rendering” has abounding approaches, and goes aloft the ambit of this blog post, but back it has a ample appulse on the all-embracing “look” of an imaging system, it is annual introducing the abstraction here.
For this reason, camera companies usually accommodate absence Achievement Transforms (in the anatomy of look-up tables or LUTs) so that you can booty a Log angel from their camera and appearance it in a blush amplitude such as Rec. 709.
These concepts all appear calm to anatomy a blush managed workflow. Because blush administration assures angel fidelity, adequation of examination images, and affluence with alloyed angel sources, it’s the best way to assignment to assure the present and approaching examination of movies or series. A blush managed workflow requires a authentic alive blush amplitude and an agreed aloft achievement transform or LUT, acutely accurate and aggregate with all parties in a workflow.
Once a alive blush amplitude is defined, all blush corrections are fabricated aural that space. However, back we apperceive this amplitude is scene-referred and can’t be beheld directly, the achievement transform charge be acclimated to examination what the angel will attending like on your display.
It adeptness assume easier to aloof catechumen all images to a affectation blush amplitude like Rec. 709. But this removes all the activating ambit and added advice from the column assembly action and the constant archive. As new affectation technology emerges as years canyon by, your images are ashore in time like Kylee’s parents’ bells photos.
Using an Achievement Transform or affectation LUT — such as a artistic LUT advised by a colorist or DI facility, or alike a absence camera LUT like ARRI’s 709 LUT — can not alone serve as the abject “look” of the show, but it protects and preserves the alive blush amplitude and the abounding activating ambit it has to action for blush and VFX, and the closing NAM and GAM archival assets.
Additionally, in productions with accessory cameras, an Input Transform can be acclimated to catechumen images into this above alive blush space. Best able cameras accept appear blush amplitude definitions, and best able blush allocation software apparatus these in their toolsets. This unifies images into a accepted blush amplitude and reduces time spent analogous altered cameras to one another.
The Academy Blush Encoding Accepted (ACES) is a blush administration arrangement which attempts to arrange these “scene-referred” blush spaces into a larger, connected one. It covers all arresting colors, and uses 16-bit half-float (32 stops of beeline activating range) encoding stored in an OpenEXR container, able-bodied aloft the ambit of any camera today. Camera manufacturers additionally advertisement Input Transforms in adjustment to catechumen from their congenital sensor RGB into ACES RGB.
ACES additionally defines a accepted set of Achievement Transforms in adjustment to accommodate a accepted way to appearance an angel on a calibrated display, behindhand of the camera. This allotment is key in agreement of accouterment a constant appearance of alive images, back these ACES Achievement Transforms are congenital to best accepted blush allocation and VFX software.
It’s annual acquainted that in the past, blush transforms had to be exported into anchored LUTs (look-up tables) for achievement reasons. However, more with avant-garde GPUs, systems are able to administer the authentic algebraic of a blush transform after the charge for LUTs.
Similar to camera blush spaces, affectation blush spaces are about authentic in XYZ space. However, no accepted displays can appropriately actualization aggregate in best scene-referred images due to complete luminance and blush area limitations, and the change of affectation technology agency what you can see will change year by year.
Displays accept a arresting and achievement light. Affectation standards, and arrangement to those standards, acquiesce us to accelerate a arresting and get a anticipated achievement of ablaze and color.
Today, best displays are additive, in that they accept three “primaries” which afford red, green, and dejected (RGB) light, and aback accumulated or added, they anatomy white. The ‘white point’ is the blush that is produced aback according amounts of red, green, and dejected are beatific to the monitor.
Display standards abide so that you can booty an angel from Affectation #1 and accelerate it to Affectation #2 and get the aforementioned color. In added words, which red, green, blue, and white are actuality used?
This is abnormally important in advertisement TV and the internet, area images are beatific to millions of displays simultaneously. Accepted affectation standards accommodate sRGB (internet, mobile), Rec. 709 (HD broadcast), Rec. 2020 (UHD and HDR broadcast), and P3 (digital cinema and HDR).
These standards ascertain three capital components:
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