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Like this article? We recommend Enter the CIE

Enter the CIE

In the early 1930’s, an organization called the Commission Internationale de l’E´clairage (CIE for short, mercifully) set itself the task of coming up with a completely unambiguous way of specifying color. To make a long story short, it devised a new way of specifying color, the CIE XYZ color space.

Using this system, we specify color in terms of three components arbitrarily named X, Y, and Z. An XYZ triplet is a completely unambiguous expression of a color; that is, given an XYZ value, every color scientist in the world would be in agreement as to what color you want. Getting that color to you is another thing entirely; CIE XYZ is a means of specifying color, without any regard to how you reproduce that color.

The net result is that if you send an XYZ-based color spec to five different CIE-savvy devices, they will all know exactly the color you want and will do their best to produce that perceived color. In fact, they’ll probably still differ from one another a little, because they are using real-world inks and phosphors to produce their colors. Still, they’re all aiming at the same target and will get closer to each other than they would have otherwise.

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