Nonsense About Display-Referred Workflow

If you even think about this for a second, you realize it doesn’t make sense.

“If we start with the concept of a display referred workflow, […] it basically comes down to this idea of working in a color space that matches the output display. In other words, the physical device on which the end product will be viewed. Now, in this day and age, that’s a massive range of different types of devices, from cellphones to laptops to desktop monitors to TVs to cinema projection systems, and there’s probably a bunch of other things that I can’t even think of, there are so many different types of displays. So, you know, I go out and I shoot an image that I’m really happy with and I think to myself, I want to put that on Instagram. Great, but you know what? The minute I put it on the Net, I have neither the knowledge nor the control over what types of devices that final image gets viewed on. Now, you might ask why why does that matter. Well, the whole idea of the display referred workflow is that you say this is the blackest black that this particular device can output and this is the whitest white that this particular device can output and you render your image […] into that color space where we say black is zero percent white is one hundred percent and if we’re using a gamma then we can basically map middle gray to 50 and we work within that color space and we do all of our editing in that color space and at the output we send it to the monitor: great, as long as the whole world is looking at my monitor – which they’re not – so, this is the main problem with a display referred workflow. Everything is based on the particular device upon which you do the editing.” source

Whether working in a scene-referred or display-referred workflow, ultimately it’s how the image on the reference display appears that determines how the finished project is mastered; and the colorist makes creative decisions while viewing the reference display. Once the project is sent out into the wild, the colorist no longer has any control over how that content is consumed, whether it’s in a theater projecting the film at 24 nits rather than the specified 48 nits or a consumer watching on a $142 television from WalMart. Only the first sentence is accurate.

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