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What You Need to Know About Color Space

“Why has ‘color space’ become so prevalent on set and in our post pipelines?”

“It seems like the term ‘color space’ is thrown around more than ever these days, but still many of us (even seasoned post professionals) are a bit fuzzy on what it specifically refers to, and the role it plays in the acquisition and manipulation of video,” writes Cullen Kelly for Insider.

“But why has ‘color space’ become so prevalent on set and in our post pipelines, and why is the knowledge gap among professionals so wide?

“This is a byproduct of the explosive advancements of digital cameras, displays, and workflows we’ve seen in the last 10-15 years. Virtually every professional-grade camera out there now lets users choose between multiple capture color spaces, which makes it an upfront concern for production teams.”

Read more: The Essential Guide to Color Spaces ( Insider)

The Rec 709 color space, plotted in 3D space. Courtesy of

“Let’s start with a clear, simple definition of what color space refers to. A color space describes a specific, measurable, and fixed range of possible colors and luminance values. Its most basic practical function is to describe the capabilities of a capture or display device to reproduce color information.”

Why This Matters

Kelly provides a comprehensive resource, defining color spaces, principles and best practices, and demonstrates sample workflows, in addition to answering the most pressing question: Why should I care about this?”

Read more: Taking Advantage of Color Theory—Cinematic Color Grading