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Linear Workflow - The Whole Shebang!

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| Comments 9
Date Added: 25th June 2012
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The great part is, after you have applied the sRGB tool to the player once it will automatically be applied for each project from then on. Of course, you can remove it too if you do a composite involving files with a 2.2 gamma baked in.

Doing this has told Composite to calculate everything with a gamma of 1.0, put display it with a gamma of 2.2. If you would like to bake gamma 2.2 into your final output, simply add a Remap Color tool just before your Output node, and set the Gamma to 2.2 for the R, G and B values. The preview in your Player will look washed out, because the Player is taking the output of the Remap Color which changed the gamma to 2.2 and adding a display gamma of 2.2. This doesn't affect rendering though; your files will be saved with gamma 2.2 (Fig.11 - 12).

Fig.11 - Remap Color tool settings

Fig.12 - The Remap Color is added at the end of the node tree, right before Output.

The Foundry Nuke - Node Based Compositor

Nuke is the industry standard in compositing applications. Its huge feature list, flexibility and raw power have made it the only choice for studios around the world. So, it can only be expected that Nuke works perfectly and is even optimized for an .EXR based Linear Workflow. Of course, you can also use other image extensions if you so choose.

All you have to do in Nuke is set Colorspace to Linear on your Read node (which is the default), and sRGB for your Viewer Process Operation (which is also the default in Nuke) (Fig.13 - 14).

Fig.13 - Read node settings

Fig.14 - Viewer Process Operation settings

That's it! Now your images will be processed with a gamma of 1.0, but displayed with a gamma of 2.2.
If you want to bake gamma 2.2 into your render output, on your Write node simply change Colorspace to either sRGB or Gamma 2.2 (very slight differences - may depend on your monitor calibration)(Fig.15).

Fig.15 - Write node settings. Choose either sRGB or Gamma 2.2

Part 5: Final Thoughts and Comments

Using a linear workflow is a great skill to have in your arsenal, and once you have become accustomed to it you won't want it any other way.

What artists who are new to linear workflow get most annoyed at is the different working experience. To achieve the results you have been previously, you have had to cheat even if you don't realize it. Adding ambient lights to brighten areas, increasing GI or Final Gather settings to get the light to bounce further around the scene, setting light multipliers to high values, not using light falloff due to areas blowing out to white, using exposure controls to prevent clipping of white values... the list goes on.

It might take a short amount of time to get used to not cheating reality with your renders, but once you do you will realize what you have been missing out on all these years. So stick with it and you will be extremely happy with the results.


If you would like to see more of my tutorials, please visit my blog and YouTube pages:

? YouTube:
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I can also be contacted through both of those websites, or you can email me:

I ask that you please don't redistribute this document, but rather share the link where you downloaded this from.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and found it helpful.

Regards, Daniel Dye

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Robert on Mon, 21 December 2015 12:38pm
If turning on Gamma makes absolutely no difference to the rendered output, as stated, then why turn it on ever, it makes everything go from beautiful to AWFUL... I have read endless tutorials about this in the last 20 years, this was no different. Never does the tutorial match the software, there IS no input and output Gamma option in the Gamma panel in MAX 2014, so how does this help? I appreciate it, but I would even more if it was ever a 1 page step by step without the abstracts...
3dmaxfarsi on Tue, 03 March 2015 3:00pm
excellent tutorial, as always …
Sali on Tue, 10 June 2014 8:45am
I'm looking for explanation about linear workflow from 3ds max goes to AE. And here I am. Thanks for your clear guide. But I want ask, how about setting up gamma on image editor such as Photoshop? Usually we made texture with 3d painting in Photoshop, and still have to adjusting texture color/brightess to get something we want in 3ds max renderer. Big thanks anyway.
Mikhail on Mon, 17 March 2014 11:19pm
well, I can't agree with author about lwf in MRay.. the thing is that you should to turn off the exposure control to get an image without any camera responce. In globals you can use gamma 2.2 in each tab, but save your rendered images with gamma override 1.0 (and no exposure conrols!). Also, you need to be sure to set 32bit(Float) in mrFrame buffer (in this case you will have a correct Z and WPP passes). Also there is a quite long process with images input as a backround plate and\or reflection maps (if you load 32bits HDR images so you should load it with gamma 1.0. If you load LDR images, like jpg and so - load it with gamma 2.2)..
Derek Bentley on Sat, 20 April 2013 4:21pm
Where is Figure 01? It seems to be missing... So we use Gamma 2.2 for Display and 1.0 for output? Does Gamma output affect VRay GI Maps like the Light Cache, and Irradiance Map?
Anlleoking on Thu, 21 March 2013 9:38am
Dear Daniel Dye Thank you for the tutorial.May I translate it to Chinese so people in our country could understand it. I want to post it in my blog with your name.Thank you anyway. Best regards Anlleo King
Demonpepper on Thu, 28 June 2012 7:22am
should we need to calibrate out cpu/monitor before doing this LWF.
Wilsimar on Wed, 27 June 2012 5:26am
thanks. very usefull.
Ruveron Philippe on Tue, 26 June 2012 1:31pm
Very clear and interesting. Thanks for the guide.
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