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At the moment I'm working on a HD show. The animation is from Flash, Maya aswell as live action/photographic still BGs.
So you have probably at least three different color spaces to handle: eyeballed sRGB for the Flash, the one live action was shot into and the only truly linear one, which is the Maya's output (unless materials and lights have been tweaked by the artists to look good without gamma correction - so they fall in just another eyeballed sRGB space).
Would I be better off just selecting the"Blend colours using 1.0 gamma" option and staying in straight unmanaged 16bit project or going all out and working linear and setting my workspace to HD Rec 709? Are there any major delays working linear? Are the longer comp times justifiable with the better quality output?
My take: for this project stay with your current pipeline. You can do linear compositing in 8/16bpc but it really works best at 32bpc and this will slow down your project's render time as well as AE's responsiveness. This slowdown is more than justified by the advantages of linear compositing.
But given your closing remarks I think the biggest slowdown would be coordinating your team if you have not yet developed a solid linear pipeline. Of course I'm assuming a lot, not knowing how you are used to work nor how the 3D is produced. Excuse me for this question, but what happens if you load into AE a 3D rendered frame saved in EXR? Does it looks right or washed out?
Hi vfxwizard, I'm thinking I can get decent results the way we're working right now, but wanted to get some opinions from the AE community here.
At the moment the 3D is coming to me as TIFF sequences. We did some very quick tests with EXR and it seemed a little buggy, and quite honestly I haven't had the time to do proper, exhaustive tests on it. The render times are so long on the 3D (especially on the 3D sets) that I'm just happy to get anything at this point. I will probably have a little time in the new year to run some detailed EXR tests. I've downloaded the package from fnord software website
If I could get the ID Matte to work with EXR I think it would be worth the time figuring it out. We do use the Normality plugin and find it great to work with. Stefan deserves great credit for providing this tool free and I can't wait to see some of his other projects released. He seems like a guy who really understands animation compositing.
Hi vfxwizard, I'm thinking I can get decent results the way we're working right now, but wanted to get some opinions from the AE community here. [...] At the moment the 3D is coming to me as TIFF sequences.
Mmmh, based on the tools you mention I think you are working with already corrected 3D imagery. Just to be sure, when you import the tiffs, AE's project window states "Floating Point/ Linear light" or something else? If it is not "linear light" or if you have to turn on "preserve RGB" to display it with proper contrast, then it's likely to be non-linear. If so the "properly linear" workflow you mentioned in the first post would not gain you much.
At the risk of stating the obvious, you can work in a linear format (EXR/FP TIFF) and linear compositing app (AE in 32bpc with "blend colors using 1.0 gamma" turned off and no color space selected) and yet be composing in a non-linear space because the 3D imagery has been tweaked by the 3D artist until it "looked good" without gamma correction.
My experience is that compositors adapt faster to working in linear than 3D artists. And, as you say, 3D takes a lot of time. That's why I would triple check the kind of 3D you have (either asking the artists or doing the "washed out" test) before committing to linear compositing during a production. Hope this helps.
He seems like a guy who really understands animation compositing.
Well, he should bem seeing that he does quite a bit of that himself. As for the rest . I concur with vfxwizard. there seems little point in changing things to be "academically right" as long as your current workflow works, especially given that you are doing it in-house and only need worry about deliverables at the end of the process...
There is a white paper describing the process here: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/aftereffects/articles/color_management_workflow.html.
Though what you are asking for is judgement if it makes sense for you. Things looks different, often prettier, but sometimes it is suprising how adapted you are to the 'wrong' way of mixing colors together. There is a good discussion on the pro's and con's at Stu's blog http://prolost.com/blog/2009/9/30/passing-the-linear-torch.html including a link to a podcast where some people chat about working in linear.
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