Q. Walter, tell us about your diverse background and how that informs your approach to ACES?
A. I started my career in Technicolor, engineering the Post-Production Technology for many high-profile titles co-processed by the company’s multiple sites. That was during the transition era of film being gradually replaced by digital and cloud-based workflows, thus being exposed to exquisite theatrical Color Science for 35mm film, which is a full degree harder than today’s. After this, I worked for several studios and my last production role was CTO for one of the leading Italian VFX and Post-production labs. In that role, I designed the whole Imaging pipeline for the first Italian full-feature film to be entirely based on ACES (Invisible Boy: Second Generation, G. Salvatores, 2018): from set to editorial, to grading, to VFX.
Q. You’re a great example of how the ACES Community is truly global..where do you live and work?
A. I am currently based in Rome, where I mostly do Imaging, and Technology related consultancy jobs for companies based in Europe. Not just Media & Entertainment companies.
Q. What was your first introduction to ACES?
A. When the Academy started to work on ACES (around the time it was re-branded “ACES” from its original name: “IIF”) I was introduced by Technicolor’s Josh Pines and started to contribute with the Color Science, as well as stressing workflow functionalities of it. So far, most of my contributions were to the RRT curve, as well as to XML metadata components like AMF (formerly known as ACESclip) and the CommonLUT Format (CLF). I’m also proponent of several ACES-based IMF workflows.
Q. Why should professionals care about scene-referred color and ACES?
A. To get this long story really short: Color-grading, rendering, and compositing, all deal with “painting with light” (as Storaro calls it), which literally means “lighting scenes” (either natural/photographic and artificial/CG). Therefore, professionals should really handle these processes using colorimetries that naturally and technically respect the properties of reflected light: that is, scene-referred color spaces, like ACES’. P.S.: scene-referred and ACES is also the best choice to future-proof principal photography and the look of one’s theatrical archives.
Q. Is ACES complicated or is it color science in general that’s complicated?
A. ACES is not complicated. In fact, we’re striving to keep its concepts and usability really simple. As some say: color scientists (and the companies they work for) may not really need ACES at all, because they always know a safe way in-and-out of imaging pipelines. Instead, ACES is a simple and handy tool to those teams that can’t consistently rely on professional color consultancy.
Q. What misconceptions about ACES would you like to clarify?
A. The Top-3 misconceptions about ACES I always stumble upon are:
- “ACES is a color space” — well, it’s a hello more of a lot that that !
- “ACES is a monolithic workflow which you either stick perfectly to, or you’re out” — ACES is a framework, where you actually take the pieces you need and combine to better suit with one’s own workflow. Therefore, you can quite flexibly design your imaging pipelines — with a few constrains, of course.
- “I did my film in ACES” (really meaning you just flagged the “ACES” box in the grading app) — Well, if you actually only did that, you likely didn’t make your workflow easier, or improved the project’s quality by any means: as I said, ACES is a framework which you need to design your workflow around with.
Q. Tell us one thing not many people know about you.
A. As part of my commitment in helping communities achieving better workflows, and from the Cybersecurity side of my professional expertise, I also serve as a Qualified Assessor for the Trusted Partner Network (TPN): a consortium of studios (including the majors) which I cooperate with vendors in raising the bar of worldwide Content Protection.