Sony Pictures Imageworks OpenColorIO
August 8, 2010

Sony Pictures Imageworks OpenColorIO

Sony Pictures Imageworks, the visual effects and digital character animation unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, has released OpenColorIO (OCIO), its sixth open-source software to be introduced since launching its open source initiative in July 2009. The new release can be found online at A Birds of a Feather session provided details yesterday afternoon at SIGGRAPH.
Colorspace -- the numerical description of color used in computer graphics production and display -- is one of the trickiest and most challenging aspects of digital motion-picture production. This is particularly true of visual effects and animation, where images typically flow through multiple software applications, and even production houses, each often leveraging unique color processes. In the absence of conventions for sharing color transformation processes, virtually every production team must re-invent a color workflow, for every application - which tends to be really hard to get right.

OpenColorIO (OCIO) enables color transforms and image display to be handled in a consistent manner across multiple graphics applications. Unlike existing color management solutions, OCIO is geared towards motion-picture post-production, with an emphasis on visual effects and animation color pipelines. OpenColorIO has been used at Sony Pictures Imageworks since 2003 to address the challenges of working with multiple commercial image-processing applications that have different approaches to color management. By providing a unified color environment, OpenColorIO greatly simplifies the task of creating and validating multiple-application color workflows.

"Dealing with color space issues is something every facility faces on every show--and it's not getting any simpler,” notes Rob Bredow, chief technology officer at Sony Pictures Imageworks and a veteran visual effects supervisor. “OpenColorIO is our contribution to help provide a framework on which people can easily share colorspace transformations and apply it to any workflow consistently."

Standards, common technologies, and open source development enable greater interaction among artists, facilities and production workflows. In 2009, Imageworks released five open-source projects including OSL, a programmable shading language for rendering, Field3d, a voxel data storage library, Maya Reticule, a Maya plug-in for camera masking, Scala Migration, a database migration tool, Pystring, python-like string handling in C++.