OCIO 2.0 Release

OpenColorIO v2 is a major update, three years in development, and contains a large number of new features. This section describes the new features and their relevance for both config authors and application developers.


OpenColorIO v2 was proposed to the community at SIGGRAPH 2017 and reached “feature complete” at SIGGRAPH 2020. The official 2.0.0 release was made in January 2021 after a period of stabilization and refinement. OCIO v2 is in the VFX Reference Platform for calendar year 2021.

Demo Config

There is a config file that illustrates many of the new OCIO v2 features described below. This is available in the configs section of the documentation as ocio-v2_demo.

New Feature Guide

New GPU Renderer

The GPU renderer in OCIO v1 baked the operators into a form that was easier to use on the GPUs of the day. It did not fully match the CPU renderer and was not suitable for rendering final frames. The GPU renderer has been completely replaced for OCIO v2 and now computes pixels using the same operators as the CPU.

Config authors: You should experience a faithful match between CPU and GPU results.

Developers: The GPU API needed to be completely redone in order to support uploading the necessary textures to the GPU. The new API is more powerful and allows more options for customizing the GPU renderer to meet the needs of a wider variety of applications.

Enhanced CPU Renderer

The CPU renderer has been improved and uses more vectorized (SSE) instructions, support for integer pixel buffers, and improved optimization.

Config authors: You should notice improved performance (up to 20x) in some cases.

Developers: A compliation setting allows you to turn on/off SSE usage. There is a new command-line tool ocioperf to test performance on a given system with a given color space conversion.

Support for Integer Pixel Buffers

OCIO v1 only supported floating-point pixel buffers and only supported in-place processing. OCIO v2 supports integer pixels and does not require in-place processing. There is also support for a variety of pixel layouts (e.g. RGB and BGR). Using the integer buffers where possible not only allows optimization of memory traffic, it also allows OCIO to do additional optimizations.

Config authors: No impact.

Developers: Update your apply calls to use integer buffers where possible. This is one of the biggest performance wins for CPU processing.

Improved Optimization

OCIO v2 is able to do a lot more optimization of a Processor in preparation for the pixel apply call. There is also now an environment variable that may be used to provide very fine-grained control over the optimization settings.

Config authors: You may now override optimization settings to troubleshoot, if needed via the OCIO_OPTIMIZATION_FLAGS environment variable.

Developers: There is now an extra step between getting a Processor and calling apply(). You need to get a CPUProcessor or GPUProcessor and this is where you may specify custom optimization settings. Note that the environment variable allows users to override these settings.

Inversion of all Operators

In OCIO v1, 3D-LUTs could not be inverted and this caused some conversions to fail. In OCIO v2, all transforms may be inverted.

Config authors: If you were building separate 3D-LUTs for both the from- and to_reference directions, you may not need to do that. However, if you are applying sophisticated gamut mapping, the separate transform is probably still worth making.

Developers: You don’t need to worry about some color conversions failing.

New Operators to Support ACES

Users have sometimes run into issues with the ACES config when processing extremely bright values and finding the results don’t match the official Academy CTL results. In OCIO v2, new operators have been added to facilitate an exact match to ACES Output Transforms. Note that the new v2 ACES OCIO Config is still under development.

Config authors: If you use ACES Output Transforms, please keep an eye out for the v2 ACES Config that will leverage built-in ACES transforms.

Developers: The upcoming v2 ACES Config will allow your application to have very accurate ACES performance on both CPU and GPU.

Built-in Color Transforms

OCIO v2 has the ability to generate a set of commonly used transforms on demand in memory, avoiding the need for external LUT files. This means that some configs may be built with no need for any external files. The current set of BuiltInTransforms includes the ACES Color Space Conversion transforms as well as the components needed for the ACES Output Transforms. (In OCIO v2, the ACES Output Transforms are factored into a View Transform and a Display Color Space.)

Config authors: You will be able to simply use a built-in transform rather than creating your own versions of common color spaces.

Developers: It is possible to create configs that don’t require external LUT files and are thus more robust (e.g. render farms, cloud processing).

Support for Academy/ASC CLF

OCIO v2 has a very thorough implementation of the Common LUT Format (CLF) released with ACES 1.2. This LUT format offers many advantages over existing formats. A new command-line tool ociomakeclf will convert any of the LUT formats supported by OCIO into CLF format. Also, it is able to insert conversions from and to ACES2065-1 before and after the LUT in order to make an ACES-compliant LMT that may be used in an ACES Metadata File.

Config authors: The features of CLF may allow you to write smaller and/or more accurate LUT files for your configs. If you were saving transform components in separate files, you may combine them into a single file, if desired.

Developers: You may now add CLF support to your application. Note that this is necessary in order to obtain ACES Logo Certification. Note that CLF has much better metadata support compared to previous LUT formats and so apps should expose these fields to users.

Serialization of all OCIO transforms as CTF

The Autodesk Color Transform Format (CTF) is able to serialize all OCIO transforms into an XML format that is a superset of Academy/ASC CLF. This is very useful for troubleshooting. It also opens up new workflow possibilities. The new ociowrite command-line tool will serialize an OCIO Processor object to a CTF file. Similarly there is a write method on the GroupTransform class.

Config authors: You may use CTF to store a chain of arbitrary OCIO transforms to an XML file for use in a config or to send as a self-contained file.

Developers: A given OCIO Processor may be easily serialized and restored.

Access to all transforms from the public API

The public API now allows access to everything OCIO is able to load/read, including LUT entries. Also, an OCIO Processor may now be converted into a GroupTransform. This opens up new ways of using OCIO.

Config authors: No impact.

Developers: Even if you have your own color rendering engine, you may now use OCIO to read and write the many LUT formats it supports, including the Common LUT Format (CLF).

Display-referred Connection Space

There is now a second reference space in OCIO. The original reference space is typically a scene-referred color space and the new space is intended to be for a display-referred color space. This means that the conversion from a scene-referred space to a display space may be broken down into a view transform plus a display color space. There are new config sections for view_transforms and display_colorspaces.

Config authors: Break down your Views into a view transform and display color space. Having a separate display color space faciitates direct conversion from one display to another without needing to convert back to the scene-referred reference space.

Developers: No impact. The new display color spaces will appear in menus with other color spaces by default.

Shared Views

It is now possible to define a View and reuse it for multiple displays. There is a new shared_views section of the config file.

Config authors: Make your configs easier to read and maintain by using shared views.

Developers: No impact.

Support for ICC Monitor Profiles

OCIO v2 is able to read basic ICC monitor profiles. Also a new virtual display object in the config allows a config author to define how OCIO may instantiate a new display and views from a user’s ICC monitor profile.

Config authors: Add a virtual_display to your config to enable a user to use the ICC profile for their monitor. Note that if you do not add the virtual display, applications will not be able to instantiate an ICC profile with your config.

Developers: There is new SystemMonitor code to use to ask OCIO to instantiate a new display and views from an ICC profile. This is also able to query the operating system on Mac and Windows to obtain the user’s current profile.

A Categories Attribute for Color Spaces

A new attribute called categories has been added to color spaces. The goal is to allow applications to filter the complete list of color spaces down to only show users the ones needed for the task at hand. For example, when choosing a working space, it may not be ideal to show all the color spaces in the config. The list of color spaces is filtered by both a “user-defined set” and an “application-defined” set of categories. For example, the user-defined set could include categories for which department (lighting, comp, etc.) and the artist experience level (e.g. basic or advanced). The application-defined set could include categories for different types of menus, for example working spaces vs. file IO.

Config authors: Add the categories attribute to help applications shorten their menus to only include the appropriate color spaces for various tasks. Configure your app configuration scripts to set the OCIO_USER_CATEGORIES env var with the appropriate categories.

Developers: Use the Menu Helpers classes to build your application color space menus to take advantage of this feature. Publish the category string you use for each of your color space menus so config authors may use them in their configs.

Encoding Attribute

There is a new attribute called encoding that may be used to indicate the type of encoding used for a color space. The encoding options are scene-linear, display-linear, log, sdr-video, hdr-video, and data. This is useful to applications since image processing algorithms often need to know the encoding for optimium results. The encoding may also be used in the viewing rules to filter views based on the color space. The encoding attribute may be used in combination with the categories. For example, an application may ask for the list of all color spaces with a category “working-space” and an encoding “scene-linear”.

Config authors: Set the encoding attribute on your color spaces to help applications know how to process images in that space better. Also, use the encoding in viewing rules to allow applications to filter the views to be appropriate for a given color space.

Developers: Knowing the encoding of a color space may allow you to optimize your image processing algorithms.

Inactive color space list

There is now an inactive_colorspaces list in the config and a corresponding environment variable. This allows config authors to keep color spaces in a config but prevent them from appearing in application menus.

Config authors: This allows you to remove color spaces you don’t want users to have access to. This may also be set via the OCIO_INACTIVE_COLORSPACES environment variable.

Developers: These color spaces will not show up in the normal list of color spaces, however you may still use them as arguments to getProcessor. (For example if your application has assets that use an earlier version of the config where those spaces were active.) The Menu Helpers classes show how to deal with temporarily adding an inactive color space to menus when it is necessary.

Color space Aliases

There is a new aliases attribute that allows the config author to define a set of alternate names for a color space. For example, the official name may be a user-friendly name for the UI and a shorter name that is intended for embedding in file paths may be declared as an alias.

Config authors: This avoids the need to add duplicates of color spaces simply to have an alternate name. It may also be used to handle deprecated color space names.

Developers: There is also a new getCanonicalName method on the Config that may be used to resolve aliases to the official name. Before saving a color space name, it may be desirable to convert to the canonical name.

Hierarchical menus

The config has a new family_separator attribute that specifies a character to be used in the family attribute to break strings down into a hierarchy. The Menu Helpers is able to generate hierarchical menus based on this.

Config authors: Use the family attribute to help applications organize long color space lists better.

Developers: Use the Menu Helpers classes to build your application color space menus to take advantage of this feature.

Color Picker Helper

There are Mixing Helpers classes that show how to implement a color picker that works well with scene-linear data. This facilitates making UI sliders for linear values and also doing sensible RGB to HSV conversions with float values outside [0,1].

Config authors: No impact.

Developers: This simplifies making scene-linear friendly color pickers.

File Rules

The File Rules allow a config to specify how to assign a default color space to a file based on the path using glob or regex pattern matching. This opens up new workflows since it is no longer necessary to embed a color space name into the path.

Config authors: You may not need to embed a color space name into your paths anymore. You may be able to rely on better default file handling among various applications.

Developers: Implement support for the new file rules. Also, if your application honored “strictparsing: true” mode in OCIO v1, the code for doing this has changed in v2. It is now always possible to obtain from OCIO a valid default color space for a file.

Viewing Rules

The Viewing Rules allows a config author to specify which Views in a display are appropriate for a given color space. It also makes it possible to have the default view be a function of the color space.

Config authors: Set the viewing rules to enable friendlier application behavior.

Developers: When asking for the list of views for a display, use the new API that allows passing in the color space being viewed. The first view in the list is the most appropriate one for that color space. This is useful as the default view for the first time an image or asset is viewed or for generating sensible proxy or thumbnail images.

Dynamic Properties

Certain transforms now support dynamic properties which are parameters that may be adjusted even after a transform has been converted into a Processor. This is useful especially when users are making live updates, for example when adjusting the exposure or gamma of an image in a viewport. On the GPU, these are mapped to uniforms.

Config authors: No impact. Dynamic properties are not exposed in configs, which are locked representations of a color pipeline.

Developers: Expose dynamic properties in situations where the user is creating a transform with editable values or when editing exposure or gamma controls on a viewing pipeline for improved performance. See the DisplayViewHelpers application helpers code or the unit tests for examples. Note however that transforms included in a config should be considered locked.

New Transforms for Building Looks

ASC CDL transforms are easy to edit but are not very powerful, whereas a Lut3D is very powerful, but difficult to edit and understand what it does. OCIO v2 introduces some new transforms that fall in a middle ground – they are more powerful than a CDL but are also parametrically adjustable and easy to read. The new transforms are for Primary adjustments, fine adjustments to Tone reproduction, and spline-based RGB curves. The new transforms make use of dynamic properties to facilitate live interactive adjustments on the CPU and GPU.

Config authors: You may find these new transforms useful when building Look Transforms. When used in a config, the parameters may be considered locked (same as a CDL).

Developers: You may want to expose editing functionality for these transforms and support their dynamic properties. Note however that once a transform is included in a config, it should be considered locked.

Providing an Interchange Mechanism Between Configs

In OCIO v1, there was no way to convert an image or asset in a color space from one config into a color space from a different config. This presented a serious challenge for some workflows. In OCIO v2 there are new APIs that enable this conversion. However, it requires the config author to implement new roles called aces_interchange and cie_xyz_d65_interchange.

Config authors: Please implement these roles in your configs.

Developers: This feature may open up long awaited workflows for you.

Named Color Transforms

There is a new named_transforms section of the config that may be used to define transforms that the config author wants to make available but which are not actually a color space, look, or view. For example, a gamut mapping transform or a utility curve transform.

Config authors: These may provide a useful alternative to color spaces.

Developers: These new transforms do not appear in color space menus by default. So action is needed to make them available to users. This could be done by adding a new Named Transform tool alongside an existing Color Space Transform tool, for example.

Processor Caching

In OCIO v2 there is now a cache for Processors. The caching system is aware of context variables and will detect if a variable has been changed.

Config authors: No impact.

Developers: This may facilitate various options such as realtime playback of timelines that leverage context variables.

New Description and Name Attributes

A new name attribute has been added to many of the OCIO transforms to provide some additional labeling options in a config file. The description attribute has been added to Views to allow similar description strings as are used in color spaces. There is also a name attribute at the top level of the config itself.

Config authors: These may prove useful. Consider updating the name attribute of the config as the config file is versioned.

Developers: Consider exposing the description string for both color spaces and views.

Changes from v1


The decision was made to refactor DisplayTransform to make it easier to use and easier to invert. The functionality of the DisplayTransform is now in the LegacyViewingPipeline class in src/OpenColorIO/apphelpers. The original DisplayTransform class has been removed. There is a new DisplayViewTransform available that now supports inversion.

Config authors: No impact.

Developers: The DisplayViewTransform, along with ColorSpaceTransform are the two key pieces of functionality to expose to users. If you were using the original DisplayTransform, update to LegacyViewingPipeline for viewports. But you should also consider exposing DisplayViewTransform to users as a tool for baking in (or inverting) a display + view.


In OCIO v1, the exponent transform was used to implement the ASC CDL and it had unusual clamping behavior where it would clamp negative values except if the power was 1. The decision was made to add new transforms that provide more clamping options. A style attribute has been added to the ASC CDL and Exponent Transforms that allow a variety of negative-handling options to be selected. For v1 configs, the original exponent behavior is used, but in v2 configs, the new operators are used. Also, in OCIO v1, the optimization process sometimes changed whether a transformation clamped or not. In v2, the optimized transforms more closely follow the clamping behavior of the original.

Config authors: Verify the clamping behavior in your configs and adjust the style arguments as desired when upgrading configs to v2.

Developers: There should be fewer differences in behavior due to changes in clamping based on parameter value changes or optimization changes.

Strict Parsing Mode

The code for implementing “strictparsing: true” mode has changed from v1.

Config authors: If you use this mode, verify that your applications support it as you expect.

Developers: See the File Rules API for more info.

Default Role

In OCIO v1, the default role was sometimes used as a fallback in general cases where a color space could not be found. This is no longer the case.

Config authors: If you relied on this behavior, please verify your configs. Note that this behavior may have hid errors that existed in your configs.

Developers: No impact.

Context Variable Changes

In a v2 config, it is now illegal to use the context variable tokens ‘$’ and ‘%’ in color space names (in other words, it is illegal to use them if they are not actually context variables).

Config authors: Please do not use these characters except for context variables.

Developers: No impact.

Allocation Variables

The color space allocation variables are not used by the new GPU renderer. However, they are still used by the ociobakelut utility and if an application requests the legacy GPU shader.

Config authors: If you don’t care about baking and you are using applications that use the new GPU renderer, you don’t need to set the allocation variables on color spaces anymore.

Developers: Update your applications to use the new GPU renderer.

Nearest Interpolation Method

OCIO v1 implemented a “nearest neighbor” intepolation method for Lut1D and Lut3D which is faster than the default linear interpolation but not as accurate. Since processing of integer pixel buffers was not supported in v1, the “nearest” method may have been used by some to speed up applying a Lut1D to integer source material. OCIO v2 does not implement a separate “nearest” method, and FileTransforms that request this style will receive “linear” instead. However, OCIO v2 does support processing of integer pixel buffers directly and this provides a big speed-up for this use-case without requiring “nearest” mode (i.e., a look-up is done without interpolation for Lut1D ops when the inputs are integers).

Config authors: Please be aware of this change.

Developers: To benefit from this performance improvement, please call OCIO directly on integer pixel buffers rather than converting them to float buffers first.

Color Space Conversion No-ops

In OCIO v1, a ColorSpaceTransform from color space A to color space A (i.e., using the same color space for source and destination) was not necessarily a no-op. In OCIO v2, this is a no-op. In other words, all color spaces may be considered to be in an equality group with themselves.

Config authors: Please be aware of this change.

Developers: No impact.

CDLTransform XML read/write

In OCIO v1, the CDLTransform had getXML and setXML methods. In OCIO v2, the read/write/metadata handling has been refactored to be more like other formats. CreateFromFile is the replacement for setXML and the write method on the GroupTransform class is the replacement for getXML. The FormatMetadata class provides extensive metadata access.

Config authors: No impact.

Developers: Please update your code to use the new methods.

Version Handling

In OCIO v1, the YAML parser would warn if the config version was higher than the library version but continue to try to read it. In OCIO v2, if the config version is higher than the library it will immediately throw an exception.

Config authors: Please be aware of the change.

Developers: No impact.

Bypassing Data Spaces

In OCIO v1, if a color space set its isdata attribute to true, a ColorSpaceTransform would be a no-op. The DisplayTransform also bypassed most of its processing. In OCIO v2, data spaces are still bypassed by default. However, the application developer may now use a new argument to specify that data spaces should be processed.

Config authors: Please be aware of the change.

Developers: This may be useful, for example, when displaying data color spaces on an HDR monitor.

Release Notes

For more detail, please see the GitHub release pages:

OCIO 2.0.0

OCIO 2.0.1

OCIO 2.0.2

OCIO 2.0.3

OCIO 2.0.4

OCIO 2.0.5