The American Society of Cinematographers

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Meanwhile, the Advanced Imaging subcommittee started its work with a “fairly broad survey of linearized color science,” says Levinson. “There was a disconnect between digital movie processing in RGB and CIE 1931-based color-science models, which had dominated TV system specifications. There was deep respect for camera-negative film and prints, especially prints from original negative, and for film’s aesthetic behavior.” The subcommittee looked into printer points and logarithmic representations, including film density. “However, film has the property of desaturating colors at both bright and dark exposure, and this raised a number of issues for us to consider,” he says.

A turning point came with a presentation by Mark Fairchild, professor of color science and imaging science at Rochester Institute of Technology. Fairchild was discussing color-appearance modeling, which touched on many of the issues that subcommittee members had been dealing with, and the presentation led to Fairchild’s ongoing contributions to the subcommittee. “After studying many textbooks and journal articles, the picture finally began to come together when Mark told us about the CIE 170-1:2006 work by Andrew Stockman and others to create a parametric color model for vision,” says Demos. “From that point on, we considered that Advanced Imaging had found what we were looking for, and that we had completed one of our major projects.”

At the same time, the Image Interchange Framework project was gaining momentum at the Academy. “IIF was later renamed the Academy Color Encoding System,” says Demos. “The [AMPAS] IIF committee adopted the OpenEXR half-float and linear light, which were both consistent with the goals and work of Advanced Imaging. CIE 1931 was also adopted, which was more of a concern. However, the high level of synergy in linear system architecture compelled Advanced Imaging to suspend most of its independent activities and become involved with supporting the explorations and test models being pursued in the IIF.”

More recently, the Advanced Imaging subcommittee has turned its attention to support the UHDTV subcommittee. “With the advent of UHDTV, television systems began to be reconsidered with respect to architectural issues that might support increased dynamic range and widened color gamut,” says Demos. All the previous issues for Advanced Imaging, including consideration of CIE 1931 and its limitations, have come under discussion. “The idea of a high-dynamic-range, wide-color-gamut DI as a master for future UHDTV brings up many of the Advanced Imaging considerations,” Demos concludes.

The Laser Illumination subcommittee focuses on the study of new light-source technology and the projectors that utilize them, according to Karagosian. “Direct-laser illuminators [are] a new light source for high-end projection that attracts the most attention,” he says. “But other laser-originated light sources are also emerging, such as laser-illuminated phosphor.” Other areas of focus include the metameric variability that can be attributed to laser-light sources. “Metameric variability is when a different perception of color occurs across a population of viewers,” he explains.

Also of interest is “the degree of speckle that a light source may produce,” Karagosian continues, as well as wide color gamut and the selection of primaries with some light sources and the high dynamic range possible in some designs. “To ‘shine a light’ on these topics, the group is preparing a Request for Information that will be sent to each of the manufacturers of laser-illuminated projectors,” he adds. “The immediate goal of this group is to gather as much factual information as possible to best educate members of the ASC Technology Committee.”

Another goal is to engage in critical viewing of laser-illuminated projectors, using test materials that the subcommittee either selects or creates. “The purpose of this viewing is to assist manufacturers in building good products,” says Karagosian, who notes that some members of the subcommittee are manufacturer representatives. “Innovators need a way to connect with the Hollywood creative community and know that their R&D money is going in the right direction,” he says. “We are working to establish a process they can plug into.”

The Joint Technology Subcommittee on Virtual Production was formed in April 2010 and comprises more than 200 members from six guilds and societies: the ASC, the Art Directors Guild, the Visual Effects Society, the Previsualization Society, the International Cinematographers Guild and the PGA. The model, says Morin, grew out of the Previs subcommittee, which held 12 meetings over a two-year period to analyze the growing role of previs in modern filmmaking, and led to the formation of the Previs Society. “When Avatar came out, we were done with Previs,” he says. “Then we began to focus on Virtual Production.”

The subcommittee’s first two meetings addressed Avatar, which utilized virtual-production techniques and processes. Morin says the focus for all the meetings, which incorporate case studies, has been more practical than theoretical. Case studies have included The Adventures of Tintin, Real Steel, Gravity and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. “Then we took it upon ourselves to analyze the process of virtual production and answer questions about best practices,” says Morin. “We foster an environment where filmmakers can talk about the good and bad without feeling that their comments — especially the candid ones — will be reported publicly. It’s by the industry for the industry, helping to develop a shared understanding of how real-time computer graphics on set are impacting filmmaking.”

The ASC Technology Committee started as a way to examine and help guide the future of digital capture and DIs. Today its members focus deeply on all current and nascent digital-imaging technologies that might impact on the creative process. “The goal is to stay ahead of rapidly advancing digital-imaging technologies,” says Clark. “We're dealing with hugely relevant, immediate issues.

“Going forward,” Clark concludes, “the committee continues to emphasize the importance of establishing standards-based digital-imaging parameters that will best support the creative intent of cinematographers and their filmmaking collaborators. We're now making tangible progress in gaining recognition and respect from several major consumer-display manufacturers for our initiative on HDR reproduction from image capture through mastering to content distribution. They see the value we provide of being able to interface engineering specs with filmmakers' creative interests. As a result, they are actively participating in our work.”

Industry professionals interested in joining the ASC Technology Committee or one of its subcommittees should contact Holly Lowzik at [email protected]

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