Meet the Mentor: Nick Shaw, Antler Post

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Q. What is your background?

A. I was working as an in-house editor at E.S. Video in Surrey U.K., and they became the main reseller for the Media 100 NLE in the region. I was using 3-machine Betacam SP suites at the time, but was very interested in the new technology. I moved into a role as a demonstrator for the Media 100, while continuing to edit and teach myself Photoshop and a newfangled application called Cosa After Effects.
I later went freelance as an editor, working mainly on Media 100, but also Avid, and later Final Cut Pro. I expanded my knowledge of compositing with Shake and then Nuke, which I continue to use, although more often for testing colour pipelines than for compositing.

When RED launched their first camera I joined Rosso Media as CTO, working on a number of the U.K.’s early RED projects, including Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter ride, and the Super Bowl spot to launch it.

After leaving Rosso Media, I became particularly interested in image processing pipelines. I created a plugin for FCP 7 which applied ARRI’s LogC to Video transform, getting around FCP’s lack of LUT support. This lead to my being asked by a number of people to create custom plugins and other solutions to fill gaps in their workflows. That was how I started in workflow consultancy.

Q. You work a lot as a workflow consultant, what does that involve?

A. I advise post-production facilities, VFX houses and others on how best to integrate the different aspects of their work I help them to move images through the pipeline between different internal departments and external vendors, while ensuring consistent and predictable results. ACES makes this much easier, providing a common framework that different software can use to achieve the same goals.

I am often asked to provide ACES training to colourists, compositors and CG artists, to help them understand how to make use of the ACES framework to collaborate with one another.

Q. How did you find out about ACES?

A. I saw a presentation at IBC ten years ago about what was then known as the Academy I.I.F. (Image interchange Framework).

Q. From your perspective, what benefit do you see using ACES?

A. I have long been a proponent of scene-referred approaches. I always advised clients who shot on the ALEXA that if they applied the ARRI LogC to Video LUT at the start of their pipeline, they were throwing away the benefit of shooting log in the first place, and might as well have shot baked Rec.709. With the proliferation of different log formats from the various camera manufacturers, the ability ACES adds to bring everything into a common working space, so all operations behave the same way, and everything is seen through a standard viewing transform, is a great benefit.

Q. Are there any misconceptions about ACES you’d like to clear up?

A. Many people think that ACES will add complexity to their production. But in fact it simplifies many things, and where some are made slightly more complex that would be the case with any move from a display-referred to a scene-referred approach. This is something people should be doing anyway, particularly now that almost every project requires a range of deliverables in different formats.

Q. You helped write the ACES Quick Start Guides…how are those intended to help people?

A. Their main purpose is to help clear up the misunderstanding I described above, and help people begin their first ACES project, so they can see the benefits for themselves.

Q. Talk about the ACES community…and and collaborating virtually with people around the globe.

A. It is fantastic to be part of a community of people who, while they may be working on different types of production, and with a wide range of budgets, all have the common goal of delivering the best quality product that they can, and understand that ACES can help them do that. There are so many people who are happy to share their experiences in order to help others.

Q.Who is your inspiration?

A. I have no formal education in colour science (although I do have a technical background, having a degree in electronic engineering) and I have learned a great deal by reading the works, both in print and online, of Charles Poynton. I try to attend his workshops whenever I can, and feel privileged to call him a friend.

Nick Shaw, from Antler Post ( has been working in post-production, in the UK and internationally, for over 25 years. Having studied electronic engineering he then worked as an editor, first in tape-based suites, and then on a range of non-linear systems. With the advent of digital cinema cameras, it became apparent that a host of new challenges had arisen, and that there was a need for people with an in depth understanding of image pipelines. With his sound technical background, and experience of post, Nick was ideally placed to cut through the jargon, and help people get the best out of the new technology. He has served as a technical book reviewer, and has written articles and manuals, and produced training videos on a range of subjects related to digital cinema. He is a member of one of the ACES Technical Advisory Councils, a Mentor on ACESCentral, and is also a contributor to the open-source Colour Science for Python project.