What Timeline Working Space Do Dolby Colorists Prefer?

Thomas Graham, Head of Dolby Vision Content Enablement at Dolby Laboratories: Can you all just tell me in the sense of what your timeline working space is that you find suits you best to create HDR imagery? Now I know there’s a lot of controversy about working sort of in PQ or working in camera space, so maybe just take a minute and walk us through your thought process there.

Rick Taylor, Senior Colorist at Dolby Laboratories: Well you know, I obviously prefer to work in the EOTF, so I like to work in PQ and use the color journey either in Baselight or Resolve to put it in that space. So, you take it out of camera space, bring it into a PQ timeline and operate that way. I feel that that gives me the best range to work with. 

Thomas Graham: And you like how the controls feel in that PQ as opposed to, say, a gamma SDR space, right?

Rick Taylor: Oh yeah. Well, yeah you know you’re grading in log when basically, in PQ, you’re in a log space and and if you’re used to working in a log space it’s the right feel, you get everything you want. If you’re used to working in gamma, you have to kind of get used to that, working in in log space.

Greg Hamlin, Master Colorist at Dolby Laboratories: Yeah, I found transitioning from working gamma into PQ pretty quick and easy. I mean, it didn’t take long before the controls felt natural and I felt like I could put things where I wanted them to go. So, I work the same way, PQ, and I just find that that works better for me, it’s more efficient for me.

Shane Ruggieri, Production Engineer, Producer, Colorist at Dolby Laboratories: I actually will bounce between P3 PQ, depending on the delivery requirements, or I’ll work in the actual camera timeline color space. Resolve limits the color space in that timeline to that choice and sometimes the client – like, I had a client ask to work in the color space of the camera – and we were able to do that very seamlessly, it wasn’t an issue. So, I feel you can work in almost any of those color spaces in there, just understand what’s happening to it, what limitations you’re going to have, and ultimately you can get the feel, you can adjust the knobs to make it feel kind of right.

Thomas Graham: What color gamut do you prefer to work in? I know a lot of that is studio dependent per se, but do you have a preference? Do you like P3 or Rec.2020?

Shane Ruggieri: Really it’s about deliverable and also your monitoring. If you trust your monitor and you can work in 2020, if you’re familiar with it…  I don’t think any monitor hits full 2020 and each one does it in a slightly different way – a little bit blue here, and a little less red here, or whatever it is – I think if you understand your monitor and understand where it lacks and you can develop images and you can see the images, and your client approves the images, I think those working spaces are… I think you can get away with just working in pretty much any of those, in my opinion.

Greg Hamlin: I think just because of the fact that I want to be able to trust that I’m seeing everything on the monitor, I always tend to work in P3 even if the deliverable is 2020 and then do a P3 limited [and do the conversion at the end].

Rick Taylor: Currently, I like to work in 2020 and in wide color gamut on the projector. However, their primaries are all different from each other and every monitor’s primaries are different. So, if we’re doing something that’s going to go out of house, unless it’s specifically meant to be wide color gamut, we work in P3 because that’s what we recommend to the outside world.


In case you were wondering, Netflix insists on a scene-referred workflow, writing,

“For Netflix, there are three main goals of color management. The first is to ensure a predictable and repeatable way to view images and convert between different color spaces, based on a variety of capture devices and display types. This ensures that creative intent is maintained throughout production and post processes. The second is to ensure all color decisions and VFX work are done in a scene-referred color space, in order to maximize creative flexibility in post, and third, to ensure that our picture archival masters are of high quality and future proof.”

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