Creatively Manipulating Node-Based Color Space and Gamma Tags

June 16, 2023

Learn colorist Cullen Kelly’s favorite uses for node-based Color Space and Gamma context menus available within individual nodes in Resolve.

Experimenting With Alternative Image Processing Options

The Color Space, Gamma, and Channels context menus are easy to overlook, but they have tons to offer, allowing us, with a single click to:

  1. Move into another color space and/or gamma curve
  2. Apply an adjustment in that space
  3. Isolate that adjustment to a single channel
  4. Move back into our original working space color space + gamma curve.

This ability to quickly and easily move between color spaces creates many creative possibilities for colorists.

Learn the creative uses for the Color Space, Gamma, and Channels contextual menu items.
In this Insight, learn the creative uses for the Color Space, Gamma, and Channels contextual menu items.

Key takeaways from this Insight

By the end of this Insight, you should understand:

  • How to set up your project to get predictable behavior from the Color Space and Gamma menus
  • Why you might want to move into a different log curve such as ACEScc solely for the sake of ‘feel’
  • The rules and benefits of working in a linear gamma curve
  • How to use LAB to get a “Y-only” style contrast adjustment

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Questions or Comments? Leave a comment!

Is this Insight useful to you? Let us know! Mixing Light is all about community discussions, and we’re curious if you found this helpful, if you have something to add, or if you need more questions answered.

– Cullen

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Homepage Forums Creatively Manipulating Node-Based Color Space and Gamma Tags

  • Jim Robinson

    I think that if using these techniques and saving to a lut for display purposes that ( in my testing ) changing single nodes actually doesn’t transfer to the lut – I just tested the offset and the ACEscc and the shadow change doesn’t get sent to the lut. I am going to test some things but – I know I had previous problems with LAB before that raising the lift or gamma with the LAB gave a teal/blue to the shadows, but again in a LUT from that – the LAB didn’t seem to transfer.
    All this is fine, as long as people are aware of it. I think the different color spaces and gammas doesn’t transfer.

    • Cullen Kelly

      Good catch Jim! I wasn’t aware of this and haven’t tested for it, but it doesn’t surprise me at all that the under-the-hood round-trip to/from other spaces/curves wouldn’t be accounted for when Resolve generates LUTs. Like you said, only a big problem if you don’t know about it!

  • Scott Stacy

    Thanks, Cullen! So much fun under the node hood. I am going to need to try ACEScct and LAB contrast.

    One that is quite common and worth mentioning for new colorists is using HSV color space saturation (disable channels 1 and 3 and using the Gain slider). For added effect, HSV saturation in combination with a commonly sold density DCTL (adjusting red and yellow) is a great combo – at least for the film I just finished.

    • Cullen Kelly

      You got it Scott, glad you liked this one! And yes, love me some HSV and operating on that S channel!

  • James

    Nice summary Cullen. Just a little side note for everyone – remember that if you ‘reset node’ it will wipe out any changes you have made to the colorspace/gamma/channels options for that node. It’s a bit of a gotcha if you forget!

    • Cullen Kelly

      Great note James! I’ve definitely been burned by this before…

  • Are the primary wheels actually color space aware? I thought ACEScc worked so well with offset because it is built so that offset operations worked cleanly with it, so to speak by definition.

  • Cullen Kelly

    Great question Simon! Short answer is no, but it’s worth noting that Color Space Aware can be a bit of a confusing term. Essentially Color Space Aware means you’ll get the same results regardless of your operational color space, whereas “Color Space Unaware” means you’ll get different results depending on your operational space. That’s why offset behaves in differently in (for example) ACEScc vs LogC3. Hope this helps!

  • The LAB space for Y only adjustments just solved an issue I’ve been having. I love SAT adjustments in HSV. I love the density, but sometimes the exposure shift makes things a bit darker than I want. I can tweak that with this adjustment in an adjacent node. There may be a simpler way to do this, but this is really working for me right now. Thanks, Cullen, for demystifying these very cool features. I was always put off by the Color Space and Gamma pulldown menus. They’re not so scary now!

    • Cullen Kelly

      Glad this was a valuable add to your toolkit Joseph!

  • Yeah, I like this HSV for Sat, I’d only really messed with HSL sat before. Thank you for this. With all of these, you’ve got to keep a keen eye out for enhanced noise. Interestingly, I found that pulling the gamma down a little in the 2nd channel (where G=S now) actually desaturated the mid/high and helped a bit with the noise from the shadows.

    • Scott Stacy

      Cool tip, Jamie. I’m going to have to try this! Thanks!

    • Cullen Kelly

      Good note re noise Jamie! And yes, gamma on the S channel has all kinds of interesting uses….

  • Randy Ng

    Thanks for this insight! I was playing around and it seems to me that offset in ACEScc and the offset in the HDR panel are the same. From a color science standpoint, is that correct?

    • Cullen Kelly

      Sure thing Randy! And great observation re offset in ACEScc vs gain in linear…from a color science POV, they’re indeed very close, but not identical, because ACEScc isn’t a pure log encoding. (close, but not quite)

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