So i have been spending some time and looking into color spaces and ACES and i feel like i’m on the right path but there seems to be some things that are unclear to me and so i thought i would make a post, explain my mission and my troubles so maybe somebody with knowledge could shine some light my way.
I work for a small software company called Tenklabs, we make Kodon, which for the moment is a 3D modeling software that allows you to sculpt and model in VR.
My background is as a CG generalist Artist, and my main goal in the company is to ensure that we create a user friendly and highly professional workflow in Kodon.
Kodon is mostly developed from the ground up, however we do use Unity as a baseline to easily connect to the vr headsets and use their shader and lightning systems. Which has been a quick way to get a viable product up and running. However we might be looking to move a way from unity and just do it all ourselves.
I had some previous knowledge of color space and the linear workflow, but i never really dug in deep. I just knew that for compositing and cg work you would need to work with linear color and then output to whatever color space the content was intended to be displayed in.
Now that, that’s out of the way let me get down to my issues.
I have 3 goals with my research into ACES
Learn the correct ways to work with CG in ACES from a VFX standpoint.
Figure out how to apply that knowledge to our current situation (with using unity)
Learn how to start implementing ACES colorspace directly into our render pipeline.
For goal number one, I’m at the point where i render with Vray or Octane for 3ds Max and i want to compose my shots or just color grade them with Photoshop in ACES.
So Octane does not support ACES out of the box, And neither does 3ds Max for some reason. And so the closest thing to ACES i can get from there is a 32bit Linear .exr file.
Vray “supports” aces however it is just a VFB display transform, it doesn’t actually render in ACES as far as i understand, Because when i export my files they are all just raw 32bit Linear .exr files, just like Octane.
Now as for Photoshop i have downloaded the OCIO config file for ACES and managed to get some semblance of an ACES workflow by importing the raw file from VRay. Displaying it with the Linear sRGB ICC profile, And creating an ACEScg LUT to apply as an adjustment layer on top of the image. Now although this gets me close it is still slightly off from the ACEScg display transform that i can see in the Vray VFB.
Importing my raw files into Davinci Resolve allows me to work in ACES directly but it doesn’t support ACEScg, only ACEScc and ACEScct and it is not great for still images.
So i feel a bit stuck and lost in as to how can i render directly in ACES colorspace and how can i edit those shots after, be they stills or video.
I have looked around for different solutions but there are so many contradictions. And different “hack” solutions that i’m not sure if i’m doing something wrong if it is just not ready yet.
For rendering: some people say work in ACEScg, but other say always work in ACES2065-1 and export in ACEScg.
As for goal number two, It obviously has to come after one but i have dipped my toe in,
Right now unity has a tonemapper named “ACES” however from what i can find in their documentation this is just a way to approximate the ACES look with a post process effect. none of the rendering work is done in ACES colors pace. It also seems that it looks nothing like ACEScg in the Vray VFB for example. So i’m a bit stumped as to what this actually is. Because there is no way to define the IDT or the ODT it seems like it just applies a look to the image.
It would be great if anybody has some info on actual ACES workflow with unity, textures, color picker etc,
Finally the third part is where i’m not the most well versed but its good for me to know about and to slightly understand,
which is how would we go about implementing ACES colorspace if we were to do it all on our own. This would be really useful knowledge for me as i could more easily explain the process to the programming team and have them get interested in the idea of having a complete ACES workflow in kodon.
Do we have to apply somewhere, or can we just get the code from a Git repository etc. This kind of info would be incredibly valuable for me.
To anybody coming with feedback or info, thank you so much.
Although this is a long long post, my main focus when it comes to ACES right now is getting together a workflow with a path tracing renderer, a photo editing solution, a compositing solution and a video editing solution.
If people share their most trusted VFX/CGI workflows with ACES i would be incredibly thankfull