Nov 132015
 

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With interest in adding high dynamic range (HDR) to feature and TV content running high, global standards body Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers opened its annual Technical Conference & Exhibition on Monday with the release of a 50-page HDR study group report that it hopes will help standards bodies and stakeholders to find some commonality and sidestep a potential format war.

High dynamic range is a term used to describe a wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks in an image, and is viewed by many in Hollywood’s technical community as a feature that will create a more noticeable different to consumers, compared with resolution (Ultra HD or 4K) or high frame rates.

But with numerous companies and organizations using the term HDR in different ways, there’s concern that this could confuse consumers and possibly even start a format war.

The SMPTE report includes definitions, guidelines and other information. Importantly, it raises “red flags” by identifying key areas that require consensus, including brightness levels, compression and distribution, said SMPTE standards director Howard Lukk.

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Sep 212015
 

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High Dynamic Range (HDR) — an image attribute that offers a wider range between the blackest blacks and whitest whites in images — has been generating plenty of interest in cinema circles, as well as for remastering movies for home entertainment, but the potential to offer HDR in live broadcasting is considered by many to be a key missing link in the HDR dialog. At this year’s IBC,  focus was moving in that direction.

Delia Bushell, managing director at BT TV and BT Sports in the UK, spoke about BT Sports’ recently-launched Ultra HD 4K sports channel and said the company is looking to add HDR capabilities, possibly in two years. Sky Broadcasting in the UK is among additional broadcasters testing HDR.

“There’s still some technology questions open, but the big issue is the cost,” said Twentieth Century Fox CTO Hanno Basse, who chairs the UHD Alliance that’s working on quality standards for HDR home entertainment. “For a Hollywood studio, making HDR is fairly straightforward. On the [live] TV side, they don’t have that luxury, especially if it’s 4K. They’ll need new cameras, switchers … and that’s a much higher investment.”

On the technology side of the equation, during IBC several manufacturers showed demonstrations of how live HDR broadcasting might be handled. For instance Technicolor teamed with video processing company Elemental (which was recently acquired by Amazon Web Services in a deal reportedly valued at around $500 million) to host a live IBC demonstration of a broadcast delivery system of 4K with high dynamic range.

The demonstration includes a new server-based version of Technicolor’s Intelligent Tone Management software that scales standard dynamic range source material (in this case, 4K at 60 frames per second) for HDR use. The aim is to allow sports or live event productions to continue use current cameras and infrastructure at a venue, and also upscale the broadcast to include HDR. The Elemental Live video encoder was used for encoding and delivery in the demonstration.

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Apr 152015
 

 

 

While still leaving many questions unanswered, Technicolor is using this week’s National Association of Broadcasters Show to reveal more of its plans to support high dynamic range, a feature that expands the range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks that can be seen on a TV or movie screen.

Announced steps include HDR color grading services for movies, TV shows and commercials. Also, the company plans to license what it calls an Intelligent Tone Management plug-in, developed to help broadcasters to create HDR content in their own facilities.

Hollywood is interested in HDR, but a challenge to a rollout is that various, some proprietary, formats are appearing.

Technicolor said its color grading services would launch in Los Angeles in June, supporting the HDR guidelines set by the UHD Alliance, an industry coalition that includes most of the Hollywood studios. Those guidelines, however, have not yet been set; Technicolor is hopeful something might be in place in the foreseeable future.

The Intelligent Tone Management plug-in was created to analyze video in real time and provide colorists with more control of luminance in the shadows, mid-tones and highlights. The company plans to license the plug-in, which is being tested with a planned release in June.

At NAB, Autodesk is demoing the plug-in with the Autodesk Lustre color grading system and Blackmagic Design, with its DaVinci Resolve color grading software. FilmLight also is planning support for its Baselight grading system.

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