Emerging standards are making the best of existing pixels. Understand the principles of HDR, learn how to build workflows to simplify production, and deliver the highest quality HDR pictures possible.
HDR offers unbelievable new opportunities for broadcast television. Not only do we have massively improved dynamic range with the potential of eye-watering contrast ratios, but we also have the opportunity to work with a significantly increased color gamut to deliver vivid and highly saturated colors.
The push to create the ideal digital cinematography camera has now been going on for, arguably, two decades. There were a couple of standout attempts in the 1980s involving high definition tube cameras, but the introduction of Sony’s HDCAM tape format in 1998 served more or less as the starting point of recognizably modern digital cinema. Since then, a huge effort has been made to meet the standards of a century of conventional, photochemical moviemaking. Arguments about whether that’s been achieved, or ever will be achieved, seem likely to rage forever, but in 2019 there seems at least some interest in going way, way beyond (some parts of) what 35mm film could ever do. The question is why.
People have been making pictures for both the big and small screens for almost a century. In an industry with a history that long, it’s no surprise that the perpetual search for something new has long been tempered by a certain respect for tradition. Or, to put it another way, directors of photography are very often looking for ways to make pictures look different, and different in a way that’s somehow appropriate.
To address the increasing consumer demand for exceptional quality content, many media professionals are implementing HDR solutions into their workflows, utilizing image sensors and cameras that inherently support wider density and color ranges. HDR (High Dynamic Range) provides viewers with enhanced contrast and increased brightness and more vibrant color, resulting in a far superior image when compared to current standard HD and 4K UHD signals.
Each year, as the TVs in our homes grow larger and brighter, DOPs have to wonder how this will affect our craft and the integrity of our images. As it is, HDR is touted as a kind of industry panacea, addressing in an orderly way (more or less) the vastly improved color, highlight detail, and dynamic range, in the latest sets.
In the good old days when you were thinking about upgrading your computer you began by reading printed reviews such as those published by Byte magazine. These reviews usually included industry standard benchmarks. Now, of course, you are far more likely to watch internet video reviews.
Video and photography — on major display at recent year-end trade shows in New York City — have leap frogged into powerful AI technology, putting extraordinary powers to manipulate images into the hands of the masses.
It’s one of the most mystifying questions in video and usually only those with the most valuable programming bother to ask it: How long does video tape last?