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Sony Pictures Imageworks Announces OpenColorIO

Sony Pictures Imageworks, the award-winning visual effects and digital character animation unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions and an industry leader in open source development, announced the release of OpenColorIO (OCIO), its sixth production-proven open source software to be introduced since launching its open source initiative in July 2009.

Press Release from Sony Pictures Imageworks

Culver City, Ca. July 26, 2010… Sony Pictures Imageworks, the award-winning visual effects and digital character animation unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions and an industry leader in open source development, announced the release of OpenColorIO (OCIO), its sixth production-proven open source software to be introduced since launching its open source initiative in July 2009. The new release can be found online at http://opensource.imageworks.com.  A Birds of a Feather session providing details takes place at Siggraph 2010 On Wednesday, July 28 at 2:30 PM in Room 506 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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 addresses this critical issue.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."

Lead developer Jeremy Selan explains, “Optimistically, we would hope that as the motion picture industry transitions from film to a purely digital workflow, color management processes would become simpler and more rigorously defined. Unfortunately, in practice we’ve seen the opposite -- that a fully digital workflow often opens the door to confusion and ambiguity creeping into the color processes.  Our hope is to offer OpenColorIO as a step in the right direction.  For smaller facilities, OpenColorIO allows artists to work in a properly color-managed process with minimal setup effort.   And, for larger facilities the extensive customization allows OCIO-compatible tools to be used off-the-shelf -- matching existing facility color practice.”

While proprietary technologies have long characterized the visual effects and animation industry, recent years have seen increasing adoption of commercial technologies. Standards, common technologies and open source development further 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++.

“We’ve been very pleased by the response of the industry and the open source community to our projects,” says Rob Bredow.  “We’re excited to share these tools with a wider audience and value the collaborative development.”

ABOUT SONY PICTURES IMAGEWORKSSony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is the Academy Award winning, state-of-the-art visual effects and animation unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, The Imageworks production environment supports live-action visual effects and character animation, all-CG animation, Imageworks 3D stereoscopic, and Imageworks Interactive, a full service creative group that produces websites and supports digital marketing for the studio and outside clients.

Imageworks’ achievements have been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Oscars® for its work on SPIDER-MAN™ 2 and the CG animated short film THE CHUBBCHUBBS!.

Imageworks’ is currently in production on ARTHUR CHRISTMAS, THE SMURFS, AND THE GREEN LANTERN. Its most recent credits include ALICE IN WONDERLAND, CATS & DOGS 2, ZOOKEEPER, CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, G-FORCE, WATCHMEN, BODY OF LIES, EAGLE EYE, BEOWULF, and I AM LEGEND.

Imageworks maintains operations in Culver City, CA; Novato, CA; Albuquerque, New Mexico, Vancouver, British Columbia, Chennai, India.

Sony Pictures Imageworks is a division of Sony Pictures Digital Productions. For more information, please visit www.imageworks.com.

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