Custom ACES Part 2: Grading Custom ACES With Fixed Node Structures

May 20, 2020

Learn how to build a powerful fixed node structure in DaVinci Resolve to work within a valid ACES pipeline, without normal limitations.


Custom ACES Grading With Fixed Node Structures

In Part 1 of this series – you learned why I like to skip setting up project-level ACES color management, and instead build the ACES pipeline myself in the node tree. This workflow opens up lots of exciting possibilities!

In this Insight, I’m going to expand on the custom ACES workflow by combining it with one of my other favorite techniques – a pre-built, fixed node structure. I’ll also show you some practical examples, using my fixed node tree to solve real-world grading problems.

If you aren’t familiar with fixed node structures and the workflow benefits they bring, check out my previous series on fixed node trees.

Practical uses of a custom ACES node tree

In the video I’ll walk you through the node structure that I use, and you can:

  • Tag clips for different input colorspaces in custom ACES
  • Use colorspace transforms to dial in film grain for various formats
  • Use formats that don’t have ACES IDTs
  • Recover Highlights
  • Do paint/repair work in camera space
  • Get great qualifiers while still grading in ACES
  • Fix saturation problems that normally are difficult in ACES
  • Adjust node colorspaces for control feel and preferences

So if you can’t tell – this one is pretty jam-packed. I’ve also included a download of my node structure, so you can get started with this workflow yourself. As always – leave any questions or comments below, I would love to hear how other people feel about this workflow after trying it!


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Homepage Forums Custom ACES Part 2: Grading Custom ACES With Fixed Node Structures

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  • Grant McNair

    Wow! Some really amazing tips stuff here. Thanks, Joey.

  • Peter McCabe

    Awesome workflow Joey!!! A lot of great ideas and work arounds

  • Greg Greenhaw

    Resolve should let you tag clips with the correct input transform without being in aces or rcm and then have the transform plug could default to the clips default transform.

  • Greg Greenhaw

    So you transform the clips to aces but primarily work of nodes in the timeline colorspace/gamma of say req709? Would that explain the wonkiness of that hue vs sat?

  • David

    Fantastic! This seems so intuitive and I look forward to trying it. Thanks for the detailed description/walk-through.

    I’m gearing up to deliver to Netflix and their deliverables make me think I might not be able to leverage this method. It seems it could be difficult to deliver a non-graded linear/AP0 archive of a show if the IDT is in a node – since turning off correction disables the IDTs. Am I missing something?

  • Tom J

    Hi there, great video.

    I wonder two things:
    1) does this workflow still work with color space aware tools like the Warper?
    2) when handing off to VFX, at which part of the node setup would you export & which corrections would you already have applied?

    Thanks and best wishes

  • Joey D’Anna

    It does work with some color space aware tools. The HDR tool can be manually tagged with what colorspace and EOTF it is using. The warper will take the timeline colorspace setting (which you can set to ACEScct).
    It’s not as seamless as a project level workflow – but i think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

    For handing off to VFX – obviously theres a few ways you could handle it depending on the project/workflow – but going node based makes it a lot more flexible. If you wanted to hand them a graded shot in ACES, you could just change the output transform and render accordingly.

  • Joey! You rock. Great series on Aces. One question. Maybe I missed it. I Built the node structure like yours. Only when I finished, resolved seemed to reorder the node numbers starting with 1 on the left. Maybe your numbers are like that for illustration purposes? As long as I build the structure from the left to right, the numbers shouldn’t make a difference . Right?



    • Thanks Stephan!

      Yea the node numbering honestly just comes down to your preference – the only thing to know is that there is a preference under user, color to tell resolve NOT to renumber nodes when you add or delete. Turn that on so the numbers don’t get changed underneath you.

      • Got Ya. Had a feeling it did not effect the structure it was a preference thing. Thanks for the quick response.


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