The American Society of Cinematographers

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Last month I noted that the ASC was a partner in the original Digital Cinema Initiative, which helped steer the development of theatrical digital projection, and that we continue to be active in the evolution of tools for creating digital motion pictures. We have just learned that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has honored us with a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award for our Technology Committee’s work in creating the ASC Color-Decision List, or ASC-CDL. The TV Academy notes that this software “enables primary color-correction data to be passed from the shooting set to dailies and editorial post, as well as interchanged between different color-correction systems and applications, and helps communicate scene-specific ‘looks’ throughout the production and postproduction pipeline in an iteratively modifiable fashion that can also form the basis or starting point for final color grading.” The ASC-CDL Subcommittee of our Tech Committee created this tool to ensure that the original intentions of the cinematographer and his or her collaborators are carried through from set to screen. We thank all the members of our Technology Committee for this achievement.

Around the corner from us is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose Science and Technology Council has been hard at work developing another groundbreaking tool, the Academy Color Encoding System, or ACES. The TV Academy is also honoring ACES with an Engineering Award, noting, “This is a SMPTE standards-based color-management architecture designed for the production, mastering and long-term archiving of motion-picture and television (non-live broadcast) production content.” Among other things, the TV Academy continues, ACES “provides a set of digital-image-encoding specifications, transforms and recommended practices that enable the creation and processing of high-fidelity images” and “offers a larger dynamic range of scene tones, a wider color gamut and greater mathematical precision than is possible with 10-bit Cineon encoding or HDTV standards.”

In other words, with the ASC-CDL, the sharing of accurate color-correction information between different facilities and machines is possible, and with ACES, different file formats from a variety of cameras can now share one timeline through post. The ASC and AMPAS are working to provide a framework that will help everyone in motion-picture production manage a world of wildly different image languages. As reported in these pages, the ASC and the Producers Guild of America recently completed the Image-Control Assessment Series with several cameras to see how ACES performs under production circumstances. AMPAS, ATAS, the ASC, the PGA and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, all nonprofit organizations, are bringing studios, manufacturers and cinematographers together to help organize the chaotic world of digital imaging.

We are also happy to note that this month marks the 20th anniversary of Plus Camerimage in Poland. A great celebration of all forms of cinematography, including music videos, documentaries and narrative features, the festival is an intense immersion in the art and craft of filmmaking that attracts an array of students, professionals, enthusiasts and equipment manufacturers from all over the world. Many ASC members are attending, as always.


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