In a series of recent articles, we've talked a little bit about high dynamic range (HDR) screens, and how they could well revolutionise the way that we watch content. 4K was expected to be this change, but so far hasn't quite taken off as many thought it would. HDR, on the other hand, provides an experience that is radically different to current screens at home or in the cinema, and may just be the next big step in delivering cinematic experiences.
HDR displays are able to play video with a far greater range of contrast and colour.
To briefly recap, HDR displays are able to play video with a far greater range of contrast and colour. This results in images that look much closer to what our eyes pick up, and that are both immersive and awe-inspiring. The technology is still in the early stages of development, and we may not see a wide rollout for another few years, but the signs are promising. Indeed, many distributors such as Netflix and Amazon have already introduced some streamable HDR content, and UHD Blu-ray could very well be the platform that brings HDR to the masses.
The question for filmmakers, then, is how to best create HDR movies to best utilise this new technology. That's what we'll take a look at in this article, and you may just find that you're closer to HDR than you realise. Read on to find out more.
Shooting for HDR displays
The first step in capturing images for display on an HDR screen is your camera. You'll need one with a high dynamic range, in order to capture all the detail that these displays can show. At the moment, the upper echelon of dynamic range sits at about 15 stops, but it's important to remember that this can sometimes be a theoretical number, and in certain environments the useable range may be lower. To maximise your dynamic range, think carefully about location and lighting, and it may be worth running a few tests to work out how much you have to work with.
The other key element of shooting for HDR is the Log format. This is different to RAW in that the footage is still video, but the gamma curve pulls a far greater amount of data from the sensor. Log footage will look very flat and lifeless when you first see it, but don't let that put you off. With a bit of grading, there's a beautiful image, full of depth, that's waiting to be revealed.
— Visual Impact Group (@Visual_ImpactUK) August 1, 2016
The great thing about HDR compared to say, 4K technology, is that it doesn't require a radical upgrade in equipment. There are many cameras out there with a wide dynamic range and the capability to shoot Log – Canon and Sony each have their own proprietary versions of the gamma curve. The only real missing link is the ability to actually see how the finished project might look on an HDR display.
Obviously this is very important, from elements like composition all the way through to lighting. What you'll need is an on-set monitor capable of reproducing Log and HDR images at a high brightness level. Compared to camera monitors, which can often be a bit hard to see, these specialised screens are perfect for making sure that all of your footage is exactly how you want it.
Image processing technology allows you to shoot with a Log profile, but monitor without the flatness.
A great example is the Atomos Flame Series of monitors. These have a whopping 1500-nit brightness, so they're easily visible even in glaring sunshine. Perhaps most importantly, though, this new generation of monitors come equipped with AtomHDR. This image processing technology allows you to shoot with a Log profile, but monitor without the flatness that can make composition and lighting difficult.
Of course, HDR is still a young format, and the displays may still be a while away, but there's nothing to stop enterprising filmmakers from getting out there and experimenting with Log to explore the different options that may define the future of video. For more information, get in touch with DVT today.
Fremont, CA - December 9, 2015 - Blackmagic Design today announced that BAFTA award ..
ONE - Turns standard GigE LAN into a live production network Unlike IP-based workflows that ..
Bright Tangerine has recently released two new products. In this article we'll dive into ..
Fremont, CA - October 13, 2015 - Blackmagic Design today announced that numerous Blackmagic ..
Fremont, CA - January 25, 2017 - Blackmagic Design today announced that more than ..