ACES or RCM? Exploring Panel Sensitivity & Other Settings

July 31, 2017

The Team fields a member question about how we set up the sensitivity of our colorist control surfaces? How do we decide?


Episode 39: From The Mailbag

Choosing ACES or Resolve Color Management? + Adjusting Grading Panel Sensitivity And Other Settings

In this installment of From The Mail Bag, Robbie & Patrick are once again joined by Mixing Light contributor, Joey D’Anna.

Don’t worry!  Dan was just on a much-needed vacation while this episode was recorded!

In part 1, we discuss a question we got from Christian about choosing ACES or Resolve Color Managment (RCM) as a color management system for a project. We discuss our likes and dislikes, but also why feel is so important.

Up next, we discuss a question we got from Mixing Light member, Issac. Issac just got a Blackmagic Mini Panel and is curious about sensitivity settings for the panel, which opened up further discussion about panel settings and the future of grading panels altogether.

Remember, if you have questions that you’d like to get our opinion on please use the contact form.

Your questions can be aesthetic, technical or even client related. We’d love to hear from you, and your question might make future episodes of From The MailBag.

Choosing ACES or Resolve Color Management?

Color management is undoubtedly a hot topic for many colorists, and Christian is one of them.  Recently, Christian wrote asking about ACES & Resolve Color Management.

 ‘I’ve been checking out your articles on ACES and RCM and I’m just kind of confused why I would pick one over the other?  Seems to me RCM has more options?  Any thoughts?’

Oh yeah, we have thoughts, nearly 27min of them! In all seriousness, this a question that we’ve received quite a bit over the past year.  In part 1, we discuss what we like about each color management approach, some things we don’t like, but we also explore why feel is such an important thing.

The bottom line is that one system is not better than the other; there are compelling reasons to choose one or the other depending on your project, personal taste, and your client’s desires.

If you’re new to ACES, you can check out the start of the series HERE.  Part 5 will be available soon.

Grading Panel Sensitivity And Other Settings

In part 2, we field a question we got from Mixing Light member Issac who asks:

‘I just got the Resolve Micro Panel and it’s made me think more about what sensitivity settings I’m using in Resolve. I’d love to hear a From the Mail Bag segment where everyone talks about their sensitivity settings.’

A grading panel is a tactile connection to the software you’re using, so how it’s setup is a deeply personal thing. We discuss our basic approaches to panel sensitivity, which then got us into a much broader and deeper conversation about the BMD Advanced Panel and the path that Blackmagic might take with future control panels and software implementation.

Don’t forget to check out both Joey’s and Marc Wielage’s excellent looks at the Resolve Mini Panel.

As always, if you have questions related to the Mailbag please use the comments below.  


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21 thoughts on “ACES or RCM? Exploring Panel Sensitivity & Other Settings”

      1. You guys should check out midigrade its is so useful. I programed one knob to just be a drag so i can use it to adjust any value including the plugin values. I can hold shift to get a more course adjustment. For its size it really is amazing. I added a bunch of features to my map like changing pages with the f16-19 keys.
        You can really rock out with just that and printer light keys.

  1. You can choose ACES as an output transform and timeline workspace for RCM so would it not make sense to use that since it give you more flexibility in the output color space.

    1. Right! I mention the fact you can use RCM with ACES AP1 at about 13:45.

      Perfectly acceptable way of working, but you loose the effect (tone mapping etc) of the RRT which some people might like and might be a good fit for a project.

      Also it’s not like you can’t do HDR in an ACES workflow. Resolve ships with 2084 Rec. 2020 and P3 ODTs. But your point is taken – there are more options in an RCM built in especially with formats like HLG.

      1. See your point. Noticed they don’t have 500nit HDR in aces. How would you get around it for a 500nit oled. Does it even matter if you choose 1000nits for a 500nit tv?

          1. You would think studios would master to 500nit (the lowest common denominator) since the market is split between 1000 and 500nit Tvs? In HDR I know there is a perceived loss of saturation as the highlights get up there, and I noticed it a lot at 500nits Seems like 1000nit and above would get difficult to grade.

          2. I’m thinking Dolby is driving the standards on ‘reference nit level HDR’.

            But remember: The detail at the top range of HDR is meant to be specular highlights, etc. Technically, average picture levels should remain where they are (although they’ll inevitably creep up as time passes).

  2. Question , now we are talking ACES with the specialists 😉
    Forget about technicaly correct or why i would want this stupid thing, but i have a clip , not from camera but a final rendered clip in rec709 2.4 with some heavy grading on there. Looks sort of bad/ugly and SUPER saturated in the red (with out of gamut clipping even) but hey it was supposed to be like that for some crazy artsy reason by the maker. Sometime you just have to do what the client wants right 😉
    Now i worked for a while with ACES mainly for ResolveNuke stuff and super happy with the feel of the controls and the filmy look that i can so fast dial in. So if i mix non camera source material i just throw it in and slam a rec709 IDT on there and mostly get a great creative starting point.
    Now heres the thing. When i dropped this clip on an ACEScct timeline (project setting no IDT and ODT set at rec709) and set the IDT to REC709 for this clip, all the super saturated red parts started to break immediately. When i turn down saturation they turn to black and when i turn it up they turn to white.
    I assumed i did something wrong as IDT should not clip right , only luts right ? They should push, remap whatever into a super wide ACES colorspace and then at the end remap to a small CS.
    If i switch off IDT and ODT , it looks all good and saturation control behaves normal without breaking, but is not the intended setup as i need ODT set to 709 for other clips.
    So what i now just did is switch of the IDT for that clip, created a 3-4 node compound with CS and gamma transforms (ofx) . This gets me 99% there compared to the IDT as is of course not the identical reversal of the ODT , but now i have no problem at all with these super saturated reds and can push it up or down without a problem. So this specific problem is solved but it did get me thinking and backtracking / checking earlier projects. Luckily i never had this before as keep sat at non-midblasting levels in general.
    Checked the forums and ACES central , tested Nick’s DCTL for super saturated highlights fix but seems not affected at all as it is not specific saturated highlights, but pure clipped saturation itself (somewhere in the mids). Feels related though..
    I did read somewhere that the whole idea of course is that you input properly exposed material etc, which this is absolutely not. But still going from a smaller rec709 into super galaxy wide ACES , why would it clip at all …… Even pre-clipped stuff should come in intact and not get worse in a wide CS.

    So , am i right and is the REC709 IDT clipping , or doing crazy stuff with saturation excursions ? Is it intended behavior or a bug ? Or am i missing something obvious ?

    1. In trying to see if it was maybe just resolves IDT, i did the same in Nuke and there it all looks good. No breakup , nothing. CAn boost / drop saturation without any crazy pixes. Just perfect representation of what it looked like before put in ACES pipeline. (nuke using custom ocio config, aces 1.0.3, , Workspace ACEScct, ODT rec709, IDT Utility Rec 709 display or camera , both fine).

    2. Ok, i think i found it . Forget about my 1st post. Took a while to figure it out, but it seemed the sourceclip was a full data range clip and prores422HQ (no idea why ?) , so resolve thought it was video (in auto settings) and the clipping happend.
      If i manualy set it to data levels , all was good.
      Did not spot it initialy as in Nuke i could use both video and data levels without having these issues (not sure why yet).
      Sorry for the confusion. You learn something every day 😉

          1. Smart tactic in this case hahaha.
            p.s. Even in data mode , found out today trying to break it on purpose, some minor breakage left , but is an extreme non real world sort of clip so no probs. And with my own node chain instead of the ODT it works fine .

          2. p.s Maybe worth mentioning that in ACES mode , pay attention that some OFX plugins may also not always work as expected. (eg funny color picker values etc) . But good for unexpected creative outcomes 😉

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