For as long as people have been taking photographs, beginning with Joseph Niepce’s first photo in 1826, there has always been some attempt to modify imagery to make it the most appealing possible. In 1861, James Clerk Maxwell created the first color photograph using filters in red, green, and blue—designating the beginning of color photography and establishing the RGB light spectrum as the key principles behind color photography.
To this day, modern color theory for filmmakers is designed on RGB color theory and it is the foundation for all coloring that is done today.
Nowadays, our cameras aren’t photographing or filming individual layers of RGB—of course, they create these all simultaneously—but how we handle color theory is dictated by what we do with the RGB color spectrum.
All modern color grading software is designed off of RGB theory. Designated as an ITU Recommendation, Rec.709 color space is designed to embody the standards required for HDTV, which gives 100% coverage to the sRGB spectrum, which is what most TVs and displays use today. In this way, most filmmakers record their films in Rec. 709 to capture the most amout of usable color and to create true-to-life films.
Wile Rec. 2020 was created in 2012, there are currently no consumer-grade displays capable of showcasing the entire Rec. 2020 color spectrum, which is why Rec. 709 is still the standard used by most filmmakers.
Click here to learn more about tools for color grading V-LOG footage.