SpaceMan ICC User Guide

SpaceMan ICC can be used to convert LUTs into ICC profiles for use within any ICC compliant system.

For many graphics systems, such as Photoshop, LUTs are not a colour management option. SpaceMan ICC will convert 3D LUTs into ICC profiles for use in such systems, for Look Management as well as Display Calibration.


Initial Operation

SpaceMan ICC

When installed and started SpaceMan ICC will offer the chance to register and license. If the program has been purchased, and is not being used just for evaluation, follow the registration instructions.

For demo purposes, continue without licensing, just using registration, which will give 14 days usage to allow the various capabilities to be explored. During demo use the system will generate ICC Profiles with a random watermark consisting of a 'solarization' look throughout the image. Please note the actual watermark will depend on the ICC settings within the system you are using.

Registration details (and the option to register at a later date) are always available via the 'help\license' menu.


Basic Operation

To convert a 3D LUT into an ICC Profile, first start a new ICC profile using the 'New Profile' button, or via 'File/New Profile' menu. This will build a basic ICC Profile starting point, with the minimum Header and Tag data.

Note: You can also load an existing ICC profile into SpaceMan ICC (v2 or v4) to enable it to be edited. Load an existing ICC profile either via the 'Open Profile' button, or via 'File/New Profile', or by dragging and dropping an existing ICC profile directly on-top of the main SpaceMan ICC window.

SpaceMan ICC

The above image shows a new starting ICC Profile with the Illuminant data shown - any Header or Tag information can be seen and edited by double clicking on the relevant information line.

With an ICC Profile active within SpaceMan ICC a 3D LUT can be selected and added to the profile via the 'Import 3D LUT' button. Select the 3D LUT format from the 'File Format' drop down list, activating the 'Clip out of range values' if required.

The required Class of Profile can also be set, as well as the option to 'Build VCGT Tag' for use within a graphics card for direct 1D LUT based grey scale display management.
Note: For normal use within the likes of Photoshop for Look Management via the generation of an ICC profile that matches an original 3D LUT, the 'Input+BToA Tag' option is the standard one to use. For display calibration the 'Display' option is the correct one to use.
(Input profiles actually only require an AToB Tag, but some graphics systems struggle with such profiles, hence the 'Input+BToA Tag' option.)

The 'RGB Space' option should be used to match the expected colour space within the graphics program to be used. The most common selection will be sRGB, with Encoding, as for most graphics programs, such as Photoshop, this will be expected colour space.
Note, the use of Encoding Gamma for image manipulation is not correct, but as this is how such graphics programs work with ICC profiles it is a necessary evil for SpaceMan ICC.

The 'Load Cube' button can then be used to select the specific 3D LUT to load, via a folder navigation window.

Note: If the LUT to be loaded does not appear in the File Format list it may be possible to load the LUT by selecting a similar format LUT type from the File Format list, allowing SpaceMan to parse the unknown LUT data correctly. For example, to load a Resolve .cube 3D LUT use the 'Iridas' LUT option, as that is the same format.

SpaceMan ICC

When a LUT has been loaded the 3D LUT can be seen visually within the cube display.

The 'View Gamma' button can be used to show a 1D RGB gamma profile of the 3D LUT, which is also the data that will be used within the VCTG Tag, if that option has been selected.

Selecting the 'Apply Cube' button will add the 3D LUT to the ICC Profile, be that a 'new' ICC profile, or an existing one that has previously been loaded, media white point, adding the correct media black point and LUT data tags to the profile.

The ICC profile should then be 'Named' using the internal 'ProfileDescriptionTag', listed within the 'Tag ID' window. This name is the one shown in any ICC profile list called up within ICC compliant programs, so it is important to use a unique name.

Select the 'Save Profile' button to save the profile, and enter the same name as used above in the 'ProfileDescriptionTag'. After saving, the 'Validate Profile' button can be used to versify the integrity of the new profile.

Note: SpaceMan ICC, by default, generates mono-direction ICC profiles, as the complex 3D LUTs used as the input data are next to impossible to invert, making such a function useless. The alternative LUT Tag (BToA or AToB, depending on the Class if ICC being generated) is populated with Null/Bypass data.


VCGT

SpaceMan ICC can add a VCGT to the ICC profile, using a 3D LUT as the basis for the 1D VCGT data.

If the vcgtTag information line is double clicked a new window will open showing the VCGT data, both as a numerical list and as a Gamma Graph. The 'Apply' button will apply the VCGT to the active display, and the 'Reset Display Tables' button (monitor icon with green looping arrows, or the 'F5' key) will re-set the VCGT data - only when the vcgtTag window has been closed.
Note: This is the same operational functionality as SpaceMatch DCM.

As with any Graphics Card based calibration, the VCGT is based on 1D LUT data, not 3D, so the calibration is gamma and colour temperature (grey scale) only, as Graphics Cards cannot control display gamut.

This is true for ANY Graphics Card or Windows OS wide (ICC) calibration.
(Mac can perform OS wide Gamma and Gamut ICC based calibration, but suffers a number of other colour related issues that makes it impossible to rely on such colour calibration.)


SpaceMan ICC Features and Options

SpaceMan ICC is really a bit of a 'Swiss Army Knife', with a range of tools and capabilities that can be used as needed. Unfortunately, this means the actual capabilities of SpaceMan ICC are very difficult to pin-down, and the best approach is to 'play' with the demo download to see if the various tools are suitable for your requirements, especially if those requirements are more than taking an exiting 3D LUT and generating a matching ICC profile for use within the likes of Photoshop.

If just making an ICC profile that matches an existing 3D LUT for use in the likes of Photoshop for Look Management the requirements for operation of SpaceMan ICC should be simple, and exactly as described here.

Note: the 'New Tag' button is presently not active . To load a different Tag into an ICC profile first export the desired tag from another ICC profile and load into the profile that lacks it.


Display Calibration

Generating a Display Class ICC profiles is one of the obvious capabilities of SpaceMan ICC, converting an accurate 3D Calibration LUT into an ICC profile. The ICC profile will be a perfect match to the original 3D LUT.

To generated a Display Calibration ICC profile first use LightSpace CMS to generated an accurate calibration 3D LUT. With the LUT generated use SpaceMan ICC to build a 'Display' class ICC profile, using the instructions above.
Note: It is suggested that the VCGT option is used, as this will provided OS wide Grey Scale/White Point calibration within Windows, via the 1D LUT capability of the graphics card.

To Load the Calibration ICC profile into Windows use the 'Windows Colour Management' option, found via the 'Control Panel', after first installing the ICC profile by right clicking it, and selecting 'Install Profile'.
(A Google search will find instructions for the loading of Display Calibration ICC profiles for you Windows OS version.)

Note: As the ICC profiles generated by SpaceMan ICC use XYZ as the PCS Colour Space, some graphics systems will 'complain' about the profiles potentially being defective whne used as DisplayClass profiles. Photoshop is an example, complaining that 'The monitor profile 'xxxx' appears to be defective. Please rerun your monitor calibration software'. Such warnings can be ignored, as using XYZ at the PCS Colour Space is entirely valid.


Look Management

Look Management is another obvious application for SpaceMan ICC, enabling Look LUTs, such as Film Emulation 3D LUTs, to be accurately converted into ICC profiles.

The process is basically as above, selecting 'Input+BToA Tag' as the Profile Type. For such Look Emulation ICC profiles it is not necessary to use the VCGT option, as that is redundant.

Rather than using the OS, Look Emulation profiles should be used within the graphic program. The following describes the use of Photoshop, outlining potential issue that can cause the applied ICC profile to 'look' wrong.

ICC Profile Workflows for LUT Emulation

The following describes the type of image path used with ICC profiles when performing Look LUT emulation when working with Log source images.

Source Image ICC AToB Tag PCS ICC BToA Tag Display Calibration Display
Log Image AToB Tag within ICC Profile
(The converted 3D Look LUT)
Profile Connection Space
(XYZ for video image workflows)
BToA Tag within ICC profile
(Usually Null/Bypass)
Ideally 3D LUT in display or LUT box (or possibly a Display ICC via OS CMM) Correct image display
Source Imagee Input ICC PCS - Profile Connection Space Output ICC Display Calibration LUT Displayed Image
Working Colour Space
OS wide Working Colour Space (for example, sRGB)

This image workflow is broadly generic, but will help understand how ICC profile are applied within Windows OS and Photoshop.

ICC Issues

ICC profiles are very complex as they were developed by a large number of companies and individuals, from a range of industries, all with varying requirements and needs. More importantly, the level of colour accuracy required for ICC profile operation for these companies and individuals doesn't match those of the film and tv industry, as the majority of the requirements have come from the print industry, where colour accuracy is more subjective than absolute, due to the inexact nature of attempting to match different output print mediums while viewing the source images on a monitor.

The film and tv industry relies on a far higher level of colour matching accuracy, due to the similarity of all viewing mediums. This enables far simpler, but far more accurate, colour management to be used, where the display device (display/monitor/projector) is calibrated to a given standard in isolation of any and all input sources.

As a result, understanding ICC profiles can be extremely difficult for those used to the far simpler, and far more accurate, approach to colour and look management used within the film and tv industry.

Therefore, the primary function of SpaceMan ICC is to generate 'Input+BT0A Tag' ICC profiles for use as Look LUT emulations, and the generation of DisplayClass ICC profiles for Display Calibration, although the tools provided within SpaceMan ICC allow for far more options.


Why doesn't my ICC Profile look correct?

When using different graphics programs with the generated ICC profile there can often be unexpected results, due to the numerous ICC options provided within the graphics program, as well as the various additional 'Colour Management' settings within the OS itself. Finding the correct combination can be a bit of a crap-shoot without a high-level of ICC profile understanding, but, as mentioned previously the 'Input+BToA Tag' or 'DisplyClass' options will tend to be the correct defaults, unless you are attempting something very ICC specific, and for which you already have the required knowledge!

Generating the correct ICC profile is only half the battle. Configuring the OS Colour Management settings, as well as the colour management settings with the graphics program to be used, can be the more awkward part of using ICC profiles.

Using Photoshop on Windows as an example, the following are some of the issues to look out for.
Note: The following assumes you have built an ICC profile to match a Look LUT, such as a Film Emulation LUT for viewing on an sRGB display - not a display calibration, or other, ICC profile.


Windows Colour Management

Windows Colour Management

The Windows OS colour management 'Device Profile' needs to be set to match the Working Space, as will be used within Photoshop. Additionally, the use of Absolute Colourimetric is suggested as the 'Rendering Intent' when working on video images, both within Windows Colour Management, and within Photoshop, unless you really understand how ICC profiles work, and are happy to use alternate settings.
'Perceptual' is another alternative that should work in most situations...

Note: It the above example there is no 'Display ICC/CMM active as the display is calibrated by an external 3D LUT, not via an ICC profile.


Photoshop

If you have a display that can be internally calibrated, or can use an external LUT box, it is best to disable all OS level Colour Management.

  • Go to Control Panel, Colour Management
  • Start with the 'Devices' tab
  • Remove all 'Profiles' associated with any display device
  • Go to 'Advanced' tab, 'Change System Defaults'
  • Again, Start with the 'Devices' tab
  • Remove all 'Profiles' associated
  • Go to 'Advanced' tab
  • Un-tick the box 'Use Windows display calibration'
  • Close everything

Note: If you intend to use ICC based display colour management colour accuracy cannot be guaranteed, due to the potential issues with ICC profile colour management. Please make sure you understand how ICC display calibration workflows are intended to work if using this approach. If you do want to use ICC based display calibration the best approach is to generated the ICC profile via SpaceMan ICC from a 3D Calibration LUT, as outlined above.

Moving on to Photoshop itself, it is best to use a reference frame to compare the same source image with the original LUT burnt in (using LightSpace CMS for this if needed), and the same frame without the LUT, so when the ICC is applied a direct comparison can be made. As both images are held within Photoshop is is possible to make a direct 'relative' comparison between both of them.

In the above image the original log image is on the left, with the same log image, but with the 3D LUT burnt-in via LightSpace CMS, on the right. The ICC profile can now be applied to the left image.

From within the 'Colour Settings' menu (found via Edit/Colour Settings) there are options that will directly alter the result of the applied ICC profile, some of which are duplicated within the 'Convert to Profile' menu as well. These are effectively 'Colour Preferences', and define the colour management 'policies' desired for Photoshop globally.

The next step is to Assign the ICC profile to the selected image, using 'Assign Profile'.

In an ideal world the original image will now look correct, and match perfectly the image with the 3D LUT pre-applied. However, this may not initially be the case, and if happens you will need to re-check all other ICC settings, as above

An example of the possible issues can be as simple as altering the rendering 'Intent', 'Black Point Compensation', the OS based Colour Management 'Defaults', etc.

It should not be necessary to use the 'Convert to Profile' menu, but in some situations it may be necessary, especially as there is a very irritating bug in some installations of Photoshop where it is necessary to toggle the 'Destination Space' from the selected RGB space to another, and back, before the correct result of the applied ICC profile is seen... but be aware how this changes the way the ICC profile is used within Photoshop, as Photoshop has a nasty habit of effectively 'burning-in' the ICC profile without warning!

Note: 'Assign to Profile' is actually intended to convert from an 'Embedded' ICC profile to another ICC profile, and as the source Log images will not have an embedded ICC should not really be used!

And as a final check, make sure the 'Proof Colours' option is not active, as that will prevent the applied ICC form operating correctly.

With all the above setting correctly configured you should have two identical images within Photoshop - one with the original 3D LUT burnt-in, and the other with the SpaceMan generated ICC profile applied.

If the two images are not identical, the most common issue will be an incorrect configuration within Photoshop, or the Windows OS Colour Management settings. Check everything again... Or, when generating the ICC profile via SpaceMan in the first place, the incorrect RGB colour space was selected.

Note: Rather than the above side-by-side configuration it is actually better to toggle between both image full-screen, so any variation due to incorrect Photoshop settings can be seen.

With the two images matching perfectly your colour management within Photoshop is now set correctly. However, if both image look incorrect when compared to the original image and LUT as used within the original grading system you have a 'calibration' issues, which has nothing to do with the SpaceMan generated ICC profile.

© Light Illusion - All right reserved