I just finished a day of playing with ACES. As part of a white paper (coming soon) Digital Vision invited me to experiment with the full workflow using Film Master, and Dolby kindly loaned a PRM monitor for the occasion. I was able to try some film material scanned ADX and delivered as ACES .exr and also some Red material with a new SDK that supports ACES. Consequently I could try some material from the last feature I graded, so I had a pretty good idea of what it was like in a regular project.. I used a release candidate RRT and a P3 D60 ODT, and just for good measure I set the Dolby to reference mode P3 full range.
First I tried the film footage, which was a long scene that roamed from a kitchen to a sitting room with bright daylight windows and on to a dark bathroom. An excellent test of dynamic range. ACES delivered its promise of high dynamic range and an ability to handle both bright and dark areas in a shot. I was able to control the daylight outside the window, pull out shadow detail and still hold good blacks. This was a lot of fun to work with. I did find that I used a very different set of tool to my regular grading though. Blend modes in particular are very useful in controlling exposure.
Then it came to the red material, which was shot a while back and was not HDR. It was really nicely shot however, and very colorful. First thing I noticed was that in ACES it was much easier to balance and the colors were very saturated but still natural. A few shots had clipping in camera, and it was interesting to see that the clipping was detectable even if it occurred beyond the white point of a regular grade. It was easily corrected with a soft clip so no problem. I also had a shot which was very warm at first and found that the channel mixer also works well in ACES.
I’ll post the white paper as soon as it is completed, but for now I can say that ACES from IDT to ODT makes for very nice pictures and much greater control over dynamic range than I have seen before. It also seems to deliver a better match between different makes of camera, but I’ll need to see more shots to confirm that. Looking forward to working this way on a proper project