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Introducing the ASWF Color Interop Forum

The ASWF Color Interop Forum, a fresh initiative set to launch on March 25th at 12:00pm Pacific, will provide a cross-project, open forum for discussions on the interoperability of color workflows and standards.

In the entertainment industry, the accurate handling of color values to preserve artistic intent is crucial, making color management a significant aspect of several ASWF projects. However, these projects usually operate in a wider ecosystem, incorporating other projects such as OpenUSD or ACES, and complying with standards set by organizations such as SMPTE, ITU, Khronos Group, and W3C, to name a few. It’s also necessary to maintain compatibility with various operating systems and proprietary applications that manage color in their unique ways. This variety can cause some confusion about the optimal ways to integrate these components.

Therefore, preserving the artistic intent of color values throughout an entire tech stack or workflow typically involves navigating and coordinating the way color is handled across a wide variety of software libraries, applications, and frameworks. Today, this is often a challenge that requires expert intervention, which could increase costs and cause delays in many workflows.

To meet this challenge, the creation of an open, cross-project forum for discussing color interoperability across varying workflows and standards would be beneficial. The aim here isn’t necessarily to develop new standards, but rather to streamline the process of achieving precise color accuracy through the existing infrastructure. In the long run, insights gained from these discussions could even influence future iterations of various projects or standards.

As ASWF projects extend beyond their VFX origins and are increasingly used in diverse sectors, it is crucial to engage contributors to this forum from a wide range of fields. These include film/TV production, post-production, and distribution, virtual production, animation, and gaming, along with individuals who use these projects in domains such as architecture, cultural heritage, mixed reality, digital twins, and e-commerce.

One likely output of the group would be a set of guidelines aimed at educating implementers, highlighting the challenges and establishing best practices for accurately sending color values across various software components. Here are a few specific examples of the kind of contributions the group might work on:

  • Recommending a set of color spaces to be used when creating texture assets (as utilized by renderers), inclusive of name strings and precise mathematical definitions
  • Recommendations for how to set color-related metadata in various file formats for optimal interoperability in entertainment-oriented workflows
  • Developing assets in various ASWF file formats and OpenUSD that may be used for validation and troubleshooting color accuracy, especially for HDR and wide color gamut content
  • Offering a supportive platform for individuals working on adding color management features to their projects, encouraging discussions with a broad range of stakeholders

While the forum will be led by members of the OpenColorIO project, given their expertise on color within the ASWF, the intention is for the forum to remain independent of the color management system used. Participation from everyone is encouraged, even if they have no specific interest in OCIO. Moreover, it is envisioned that the work done here will have a scope and relevance that goes beyond the ASWF projects.

The inaugural meeting of the group will be March 25 at 12:00pm Pacific. This will be a Zoom meeting, running on a monthly cadence. Additionally, a #color-interop-forum channel has been created on the ASWF Slack for discussions. We invite you to attend the meeting, help shape the group’s agenda, and share your valuable insights!