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Linear Workflow ( LWF ) Part 2

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Picking up where we left off of LWF and continue with softwares.

We talked about the advantages of LWF. Like many advantages, LWF comes with some handicaps. This is basically about our process of changing and adapting our workflow.

Let's go through the software and try to see how the workflow will be.

Let's note that if you are not working in the cinema industry or vfx, it may be more logical not to take the LWF load.

Let me remind you of an important point that we also mentioned in Gamma article.

Play as much as you want with colors, there is no escape from Display device Gamma 2.2. So monitor Gamma you may say. Why did we mention that? Imagine that we rendered out 32-bit linear EXR file from a 3D sofware. If we view this file over Windows or let's say After Effects, we'll see a very dark image due to Gamma 2.2. In order to fix this, we need to linearize our workspace.

After Effects

LWF is a mathematical flow that runs at the core of all software. The important thing is how the software renders this to the interface and outputs.

Many 3d softwares gives Gamma applied outputs and features unless you make some changes.

In After Effects to switch Linear Workspace, Active "Linearize Working Space" tick after you picked color space from Project Settings. You can open it by clicking bpc.

Left non Linear Color Picker, Right Linear Color Picker

When we set AE to LWF, an unusual Hue/Saturation/Brightness values emerge. We explained that LWF increases luminance values and gives much more tone in brights.

We can see difference clearly in Color Picker.

At this point, a problem or an adaptation process will arise for 0-255 workers.

Color codes may be required for some Web adaptations, works.

We can handle this indirectly in two ways without going back from LWF.

-The first is to use System Color Picker instead of AE. You can use the Standard Color Picker of Mac or Windows system by activating Edit/Preferences/General/ Use System Color Picker.

-Second is all about reading values. Right click on the Info text in the AE Info Panel and change the read value format to Web, 8 bit, 16 bit, Decimal etc.

Color Management - Preserve RGB

Like we mentioned before, every image from web comes with Color Profile embedded.

(Except some HDR, TIFF files).

When we import those textures, AE applies Color Management to all imported images in order to maintain visual prediction and integrates them smoothly to the LWF. This way we will get, well, what you see is what you get! WYSIWYG. This goes for visible layers and images. However!.. There is other types of images carries out different kind of data which is called Control Layers. Those layers are not visible but their effect will be. Like Z-Depth, Displacement, Normal, UV-Map etc. For Control Layers we need Accuracy not the visual. In order to get accurate data from those layers we should disable Color Management/Preserve RGB for those Control Layers which can be found in Interpret Footage menu.

Ctrl+Alt+G / Command+Option+G


Newer versions automatically read 32bit EXR files linearly. Some adjustment effects are grayed out because they are not compatible, so they cannot be used. More detailed settings can be made with 3rd party plugins.

Cinema 4D

In C4D it is default workspace. You can set it or deactivate from Project Settings.


In 3D softwares, the effect of LWF is more dramatic.

In every situation that shows Falloff, we can see its effect clearly like Lights. Light can reach farther without changing Intensity and without blown away. Remember Glow effect we mentioned previously.

It effects lots of things from realistic light decay to reduced noise and render times.

After this point, we may need to make some different settings according to the render engine we use. In general, the flow to be considered in all 3d software is as follows:

Today, many if not all render engines work linearly, taking into account the Color Management of 3d software. It even automatically applies the texture transformations we saw above. All we need to do is rendering linear output. This is available in the settings of the respective render engine.

3D Studio Max-Vray

Previously, in some older versions, we had to do the Gamma management of the software manually. If you are using old versions, it will be enough to make the following settings. Note that this setting has no effect on linear calculations. It just makes the viewports matching to Linear Workspace.

Rendering/Gamma/LUT Setup... or Customize/Preferences/Gamma and LUT

In new versions, Autodesk has announced that de-Gamma, linearize is applied automatically to the imported texture. Therefore, we do not need to do anything with it. If you are using older version... Don't.

Finally, let's finish by mentioning a couple of important points.

-32bit EXR renders are generally used to get full efficiency from Linear workflow.

-For single-frame artistic print jobs, this may not be a problem.

-However, as a result of this bit depth and the AOVs-Multipasses we add in animation and compositing, the file size of a single frame EXR can reach 300Mb.

-When we calculate from 25fps, the size of an animation of 4 seconds-100 frames can reach 30GB.

-Aside from the storage problem, if you don't have a fast and powerful processor and a fast and large memory, you may have problems in the compositing part.

-That doesn't mean you can't get any work done, but your workflow can slow down drastically.

-You can consider 16bit instead of 32 bit in case of hardware shortage.

-Unless you're working in a serious industry like Cinema, VFX, 8bit sRGB renders are also enough and will run much faster in post fx.

Stay safe.

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