ACES And DaVinci Resolve 101 Webinar – Understanding The Workflow

May 8, 2020

Are you confused about what is ACES? What is it used for? How do you use and implement ACES within DaVinci Resolve? This webinar is for you.


Updated: May 11, 2020 – At ~17:30 in the video we updated two slides to correctly state that LogC and Slog are scene-referred recording formats. For Premium Members, the download for this revised Insight is appended as ‘v2’.

Learning The ACES Workflow In DaVinci Resolve: Presented By Peder Morgenthaler

Team Mixing Light is very exciting to present our first-ever webinar!

We originally arranged for Peder to give this presentation on NAB 2020 at the Mixing Light Presentation Theater within the Flanders Scientific booth. Of course, life got it the way and we had to re-jigger our plans.

Hence–Mixing Light Webinars is born!

Since this was our first webinar, we assumed that attendance at the actual webinar would be light (plus, this far into the Stay At Home orders, we figured people were tired of webinars). We were wrong!

Attendance Far Exceeded Our Expectations. This Insight Is Free Through May 15, 2020

As a result, we instantly filled up our Zoom webinar ‘room’ (limited to 100 people by our account level).

Facebook, our After Hours Slack Channel, our Contact Us page, and the posting announcing this webinar quickly overflowed our support channels with registrants who were locked out.

For that reason, we’re keeping this Insight free, in front of the paywall, through Friday, May 15, 2020. This should give everyone who signed up plenty of time to get ‘edumcated’ on the ACES workflow and how it’s executed in DaVinci Resolve.

What You’ll Learn In This Webinar

Are you confused about ACES? What is it used for? How do you use and implement ACES within DaVinci Resolve?

In this webinar, colorist & Mixing Light contributor Peder Morgenthaler covers the basic concepts of the Academy Color Encoding System, including:

  • What is the problem that ACES is trying to solve?
  • What reasons might a project decide to use ACES?
  • How can you get the ACES pipeline going in Resolve?
  • An explanation of the essential alphabet soup of ACES acronyms.
  • How do you set up mixed camera formats in DaVinci Resolve with an ACES color pipeline?
  • A demonstration of Peder’s approach to color grading in ACES.
  • How do you work with RAW media in an ACES workflow?

The first 70 minutes of this webinar is Peder’s presentation laying the essential groundwork you need to know to have an educated discussion talking about implementing ACES workflows in DaVinci Resolve. The last 30 minutes is the Question & Answer section of this webinar. Some of the questions that Peder answers include:

  • Working with Look-Up Tables (LUTs) in ACES
  • Using Lift/Gamma/Gain controls vs. Log controls
  • How to change your DaVinci Resolve settings for multiple deliverables?
  • Are there projects where ACES is in inappropriate workflow?
  • If you are delivering to multiple color spaces, which is the version you should set up for the initial color grade?
  • Does ACES require a more powerful computer compared to working in non-ACES workflows in DaVinci Resolve?
  • Are there distributors requiring ACES archival masters as a delivery requirement?
Additional ACES Resources On Mixing Light (and beyond)
  • Flightpath: What is ACES and How Do You Use It? – Mixing Light has been teaching ACES workflows for years. We’ve organized our content into an ACES Flightpath. This is a curated collection of Mixing Light Insights that can be watched in the order presented. Plus, on the right sidebar, we list and link to many ACES resources that you may find essential to mastering ACES for your particular needs, including ACES Central – the official home of ACES.

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Homepage Forums ACES And DaVinci Resolve 101 Webinar – Understanding The Workflow

  • David Smith

    Thank you very much for that kind consideration, I am looking forward to enrolling in Mixing Light as soon as we are back to work over here in Burma

  • Antoine Polin

    Thank you for this webinar, it’s very instructive !!! I’ll be waiting for the second part ! I just wish Peter would have grade a little bit the street shot as I find a bit difficult in Aces (with the way the controls work in Aces) to recover details in shots with great dynamic range : like he shows, to see the details in the sky, we have to push the rest of the image way way down to the blacks which makes it sometimes hard to balance the image afterwards I think. (Although I’m starting to use/try ACEs) Thank you !

  • Dieter P

    Careful around minute 17! LogC, Slog3, and other camera native log tone curves are NOT display-referred! They actually are scene-referred EOTFs OETFs, that through the IDTs will be transformed into Scene Linear data (still scene-referred, if you will, but in a linear encoding). I guess this should be corrected to avoid confusion

  • Peder Morgenthaler

    Thanks for the catch, Dieter! I was really trying to get at the difference between display-referred and scene linear encodings, but I didn’t explain it very well. You’re right that camera log formats can encode scene-referred data. On their own, LogC & other camera log formats are just encoding curves (OETFs), so they’re not inherently scene or display referred on their own. But when combined with a wide color gamut like ALEXA Wide Gamut, that encoding is scene referred. I’ll update the slide and the VO on the presentation.

  • Peder Morgenthaler

    Glad you enjoyed it, Antoine! Sorry I didn’t spend more time grading.
    If you’re working in ACES under a Rec709 OT, there will definitely be extra dynamic range to recover. In those cases, use the same techniques (curves, key selections, windows, etc.) to separate those areas and sculpt them back into range as you would in any other workflow. The only difference is the ACES RRT, which has some inherent highlight roll-off that flattens the signal at the very top of the range. Sometimes I end up adding contrast in the highlights to stretch the signal there a bit.

  • Dieter P

    And I incorrectly wrote EOTF… great. 🙂 I’ll edit too! cheers

  • Boris T

    Thanks a lot for this. Very helpful! There is something that I need some clarification on. A lot of DoPs are so used to grading from Log files. To try and accommodate them, when ODT is REC709 is it ok to set IDT to REC709 on say LogC files so they remain unchanged and we can start grading from Log? Working that way I also have more control over the highlights “issue” that Antoine pointed out earlier. Thanks!

  • Jonathan O

    Hi, at 51:30 you discuss using Log wheels to grade in ACEs, over primary wheels. Do you mainly grade with the Log wheels with ACEs? Do you have any more content on Mixing Light about solely using the log wheels to grade? Cheers

  • Peder Morgenthaler

    Hi Boris! Glad you’ve found it helpful!
    If I understand your question correctly, you’re asking if you can grade LogC as you would normally, then use a REC709 IDT to get that into the ACES pipeline. If that’s the case, I definitely don’t recommend it. You’re basically bypassing all of the benefits of ACES by working that way.

    Since ACEScct is a log space, grading in Resolve using ACES is pretty similar to traditional log workflows. The ODT just replaces the film print LUT you would normally grade through. But if your DPs are looking to exactly match what they’re familiar with using LogC and a print LUT it will be a challenge. Its better to work with them to develop a similar look through ACES, or not use ACES at all.

    Hope that helps!

  • Peder Morgenthaler

    Hi Jonathan!

    I generally grade in ACES with a combination of LOG wheels, printer lights/offset and curves.

    Here are a couple Insights to help you with Log grading controls:

    Using Log Controls in DaVinci Resolve

    Log Controls as a Secondary

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