1st Edition

Color Science and Digital Imaging An Essential Guide for Visual Effects Artists, Filmmakers and Photographers

By Steve Wright Copyright 2025
    264 Pages 192 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    264 Pages 192 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book, written by a leading expert in the field of visual effects, demystifies the complex subject of color science and how it should be managed from project ideation to completion.

    Readers will not only learn how things work, their capabilities and limitations, but also the Color Science that goes along with it, in an accessible and informative manner. Starting in the Real World with an understanding of light and our human perception of it, the book then explores how digital cameras “see” the scene and digitize it. From the capture of these images, the Author then explores the fundamental concerns of storage, editing and managing color images, including with OCIO and ACES.

    Written for the professional Photographer, Cinematographer, visual effects, motion graphics or CG artist, Editor and Colorist, this book will provide you with knowledge of the upstream and downstream technology to your job that will not only give you a competitive advantage and help you to make better images while giving you a real-world working knowledge of Color Science.

    Foreword

    Preface

    Acknowledgements

    Introduction

    Chapter 1 - World Space

    1.1 The Nature of Light

    1.2 Measuring Light

    1.3 Dynamic Range

    1.4 A Color Science Moment

    1.5 Light Sources

    1.6 Surface Interactions with Light

    1.7 Exotic Surface Interactions with Light

    1.8 How We See the World

    1.9 Conclusion

    Chapter 2 - Camera Space

    2.1      Camera Perceptions of Color

    2.2      Space and Time

    2.3      Camera Dynamic Range

    2.4      Video Standards

    2.5      Output Options

    2.6      Camera Artifacts

    2.7      Lens Artifacts

    2.8      The DIT

    2.9      Virtual Production

    2.10    What about 35 mm Film?

    2.11   Conclusion

    Chapter 3 - Storage Space

    3.1      Image Structure

    3.2      Compression Strategies

    3.3      Codecs

    3.4      Containers

    3.5      Log Images

    3.6      Cinema Export Options

    3.7      Cinema File Formats

    3.8      Photography Export Options

    3.9      Photography File Formats

    3.10   Conclusion

    Chapter 4 - World Space

    4.1      Color Theory

    4.2      Color Models

    4.3      Color Spaces

    4.4      Linear vs. Gamma Corrected

    4.5      Integer vs. Float

    4.6      LDR vs. HDR Images

    4.7      Choosing Your Work Space

    4.8      Photography Work Spaces

    4.9      Archiving

    4.10     Conclusion

    Chapter 5 - Display Space

    5.1      Display Attributes 

    5.2      SDR vs. HDR

    5.3      HDR Display Formats

    5.4      Display Devices

    5.5      Coming Soon

    5.6      Conclusion

    Chapter 6 - Color Management   

    6.1      Color Grading

    6.2      Digital Intermediate (DI)

    6.3      ICC Profiles

    6.4      Working with Super-Sized Gamuts

    6.5      Color Pipelines

    6.6      OpenColorIO (OCIO)

    6.7      ACES Color Management

    6.8      Historical Perspective 6.9      Conclusion

    Glossary

    Biography

    Steve Wright, an award-winning visual effects pioneer and renowned educator is the published author of two popular books – Digital Compositing for Film and Video and Compositing Visual Effects. In 2005, his attention turned full-time to educating the next generation of VFX practitioners imparting his vast technical knowledge gleaned from 30 plus years of production experience. His love of digital imaging technology and color science is the mainstay of his training website, FX Ecademy.

    “This book is a treasure trove of knowledge about the technology and color science used for creating digital images. I wish this had been available when I was starting out.” - Grant McKean, Senior Flame VFX Artist. London

    “The author conducts the reader through a journey of the entire digital imaging pipeline providing essential information all the way. By the end of the book, the reader will have painlessly accumulated an astonishing depth of knowledge of color science.” - Eberhard Hasche, Senior Color Researcher at the Department of Computer Science and Media Technology at Technical University of Applied Sciences, Brandenburg, Germany

    “The topic of color science is difficult to teach but Steve Wright has a succinct way of communicating this complex subject matter making it easy even for the layperson to comprehend. The visual impact of the animated videos will prove to be an invaluable learning tool for my courses. As an educator, I highly recommend this book!” - Shaun Peyman, Senior Lecturer of VFX at the Media Design School of Auckland, New Zealand

    “As a supervisor of Visual Effects and CG artists, I see my team struggle with the issues covered by this book all the time. It will be a boon to their careers and the industry as a whole when everybody knows this stuff by heart.” -  Isa Alsup, Senior VFX and CG Supervisor