A Practical Guide to Color Management in Audiovisual Production

About us

This guide is part of a collection of documents managed by RxLaboratory : RxDocs.

RxLaboratory is an organization whose mission is to develop, distribute and promote free software and innovation in audiovisual production, as well as to facilitate mutual aid, sharing and cooperation between all actors in this field.

RxDocs is a collaborative work of scientific, technical and artistic popularization in the field of audiovisual production in the broad sense: image, video, animation, sound … These documents are intended for anyone working in the field (phography, video, motion design, directing, animation, illustration, cinematography, editing …)

Note

All names followed by an asterisk* are explained in the Glossary

Introduction

The methods and tools of color management in (digital) image processing often seem complicated and are sometimes misunderstood by people working in audiovisual production.

The software are full of different parameters, which seem to be very different from one to another.

As a result, color management is not always mastered; very often the user loses control over the colors and can’t achieve the desired look.

This field, although very technical, is however not as complicated as it seems, and this document aims to explain and vulgarize the issues related to color management in image processing, and is aimed to anyone dealing with this problem in the production of digital images1. The goal is not to make theory but to arrive quickly at the concrete application of the explanations, and we will limit the historical and theoretical explanations to the bare minimum.

Note

Practically, the colorimetric spaces are intrinsically related to the data encoding formats, and we will also speak partly about these various formats.

The first part will be theoretical, starting from light and color, and studying how we perceive it, then how to record it, represent it and reproduce it in a digital system.

Then we will approach the practical aspect, explaining in concrete cases what are the useful and recommended parameters in your productions of all types, and in different applications.

Tip

This document is constantly evolving! If you find any errors, or wish to make improvements, contribute or report it to us !

I - Theory

II - Application

Hint

The list of applications is arranged in alphabetical order, with the publisher’s name at the top.

III - Appendixes

META


  1. For the sake of simplicity, we will allow ourselves certain shortcuts and approximations, the aim being the concrete application and acquisition of know-how, and not the scientific study of the subject.
    We will also limit the explanation to the elements necessary for the concrete application and understanding of the parameters; we will avoid information of purely historical interest, with the intention of keeping this guide clear and as concrete as possible.
    We invite the reader to start by reading the Wikipedia articles to learn more about the subject and to complete the theoretical information missing from this guide; there is no lack of resources on the subject.
    On each page, we regularly add and complete the sources and references to deepen what is explained.