Film Print Emulation: Paul Dore’s ACES DCTL Look Modification Transform (LMT)

May 3, 2022

In Part 3, learn how to go beyond LUTs for an artistic approach to emulating film print looks using Paul Dore's DCTL in an ACES workflow.


Part 3: Beyond LUTs – An Artistic Approach To Emulating Film Print Looks

Continuing our series on different film print emulation techniques and solutions, we examine color scientist Paul Dore’s Baldavenger GitHub FPE DCTL for use in an ACES grading environment with DaVinci Resolve (learn more about DCTLs in this introductory Insight).  

In this Insight you will quickly discover the differences between DCTLs and LUTs, the custom controls that DCTLs offer, and the flexibility the DCTL approach affords.

About the Baldavenger FPE DCTL

The Baldavenger is Paul Dore’s GitHub handle. Paul is a respected color scientist and contributor to the official ACES project.  He creates and maintains a comprehensive collection of useful Resolve DCTLs, free for download on GitHub.  

One of those DCTLs, LMT_PFE_OFX, has become a widely-used film print emulation in the ACES community.  In this Insight, we take a look at this interesting and popular ACES LMT (Look Modification Transform) and compare it to the baseline we’ve previously established in this series.

You see Paul’s default look (I consider it a desaturated, skip-bleach look) and examine the myriad of controls available in his DCTL to customize the look to your (or your client’s) personal liking.

DCTL vs. Look Up Tables for Film Print Emulation

Using a DCTL is a very different approach to FPE than the solutions we’ve examined so far. There are a multitude of controls for targeting specific tonalities and hues in ways the standard tools in Resolve don’t.  This DCTL is deep, powerful, and can be intimidating at first glance – but it’s very much worth experimenting with if you color grade within an ACES pipeline.

Visit the first tutorial in a Series on Film Print Emulation Evaluation

Learn how to evaluate FPE solutions for yourself, starting with a Film Print Emulation (FPE) Look-Up Table (LUT) that ships for free with DaVinci Resolve.

Watch for free: What is Film Print Emulation and how do you evaluate it?

Learning Goals in this Insight

What are the specifics that members should learn from this Insight?

  • Learn how to download repositories from GitHub
  • Learn how to apply and set up a node tree structure for this node-based ACES pipeline
  • Evaluate the default look of the LMT_PFE_OFX DCTL
  • Explore the various controls including Power, Slope, and Exposure
  • Discover how the hue targeting controls enable the specific color shifts we identify with certain film stocks
  • See how easy it is to disable Hue effects if you only want the contrast effect of an FPE

External Links

Related Mixing Light Insights

– Peder

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Homepage Forums Film Print Emulation: Paul Dore’s ACES DCTL Look Modification Transform (LMT)

  • Thank you!
    How is setting Color Management on this project?

    • Marco Paba

      I think in REC.709 2.4 or DWG.

    • Hi Stefano,

      I covered the color settings for the project in the first episode of this series:
      An introduction to ‘FPE’ Look Up Tables using Resolve’s native film print LUTs

      We’re using the same project to evaluate each of the FPE options in the series to give us a common baseline for comparison.  The project is not color managed.  It’s set up as DaVinci YRGB / Rec709 / Gamma 2.4.  That way we can execute all  of the color management in the node structure, so that the entire color pipeline is clear and visible.  The Blackmagic RAW clips are set to deBayer into DaVinci Wide Gamut / DaVinci Intermediate, and managed using CST nodes from there.

      Hope that helps!

      • Hi Peder,

        Thank you very much for this very interesting tutorial! Just a question: isn’t a bit risky to use the PFE DCTL in a non color management ACES environement ? Meaning, you have to achieve all the conversions with colorspace transforms ofx instead set up the entire project in ACEScct 1.3 and in this purpose, you add another wide  gammut (DWG) to convert to ACEScct. So it does lots of conversions which potentially create problems ?


        • Hi Guillaume,
          Its actually very common to implement ACES in a node-based setup instead of using project color management when you need flexibility to control the color pipeline on a shot-to-shot basis, or perform operations before & after the ACES input and output transforms.

          It’s true that you must pay close attention to your CST and ACES transforms, but that becomes second nature when you work with it regularly. If you have the pipeline set up correctly, using the PFE DCTL in the correct place (directly before the OT) is just fine.

          If you haven’t checked out Joey D’Anna’s great Custom ACES series, that’s a great starting point to understand the manual ACES workflow.

  • Thanx for your info. What I’ve always failed to understand about Paul Dore’s DCTL’s (and perhaps it’s worth mentioning here) is that one has to download the entire package to have it work. I’ve been downloading only the elements, as needed, however, the elements won’t work as a standalone. The entire package is needed.

    • Great point Charles.  Many of the DCTLs in Paul Dore’s package have interdependencies, so it’s best to install the entire ACES_DCTL package in order for everything to work as expected.  Keep the directory structure as it is, placing the entire ACES_DCTL folder in you Resolve LUTs directory.

      Thanks for mentioning that!

  • Thank you.

    If we are not using Arri or ACES synthetic charts for accurate tests, and only have access to Resolve’s Four color gradient or similar gradients, what is the right way of transforming them to the correct color space/ timeline color space (if possible)? The reason I ask is that I often download these standard charts or use the ones Resolve offers, but I don’t know the Input Color Space/Gamma before adding them to my timeline.

    I was setting up multiple timelines to compare the LMT with other tools when this tutorial showed up! Paul has a video on this DCTL too. Appreciated.

  • Hi Pourang,


    Good to hear this came at the right time for you!  Paul’s videos are great as well, and go deeper into the individual controls than I did.  Here’s the link for anyone interested:

    In a non-color managed timeline, the test charts generated by Resolve are always Rec709 / 2.4.  I’m using a CST node to convert to those DWG / DI to fit into our testing setup.

    The tone mapping option you choose there will have an effect on the chart, so just make sure to stay consistent if you’re using it for comparison.  I generally use Luminance Mapping.

    For externally sourced test charts, you’ll have to identify their color space and gamma in order to use them correctly.  Usually they’re already Rec709 / 2.4, but not always.

    Hope that helps!

    • Thank you so much, Peder! Yes, that definitely makes sense now. I’ll go back to the project and set it up the right way, very excited to play around with this LMT.  👍

  • Frank

    Terrific series Peder.   Really enjoying it.  Thank You

  • Frank


    For node 4 settings on your ACES OT, is it set to go from ACEScct-CSC back to rec 709.  It wasn’t covered on the video and just wanted to make sure I am doing this right.  thanks

    • Hi Frank!  Glad you’re enjoying the series!

      Yes, you’re correct about the ACES OT on node 4 in the Timeline grade:

      ACES 1.3 / ACEScct-CSC to Rec.709 / ACES reference gamut compress

  • James Garrow

    Really fantastic and useful tutorial.

    Thanks for that!

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