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July/August 2023

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Page 25 of 39 24 POST JULY/AUG 2023 HDR MONITORS The latest releases for HDR pipelines and color-critical work BY MARC LOFTUS I n this issue, we look at some of the latest mon- itors that are designed for use in high dynamic range content production. The industry is offer- ing a range of solutions and technologies for col- or-critical monitoring, both during production and in post. With sizes that span from just 16-inches to more than 50, and prices that are becoming in- creasingly more affordable, there's a good chance you'll find a solution that matches your budget and workflow needs. SmallHD's Vision line targets HDR workflows SmallHD (, which is head- quartered in Cary, NC, and has a storefront in Burbank, CA, was on track to release a 32-inch OLED display at NAB, but JOLED Inc., the Japanese display technology company that was providing panels to many companies in the indus- try, filed for bankruptcy, leaving them without the main component. SmallHD is still offering OLED displays, including a 27-inch UHD unit that is suit- able for editorial, SDR grading and HDR preview, but for those looking for a true PQ1000 HDR reference monitor, they point to their Vision series, which features 17- and 24-inch LCD models. "Vision is an interesting one to talk about, sim- ply because these are 17- and 24-inch monitors, respectively, that are the only monitors in that size range that actually could recreate a true PQ1000 image," explains Wes Donahue, director of stra- tegic sales for SmallHD and its sister company Teradek. "Meaning," he continues, "that it gets all the way down to .005 black and all the way out to the full 1,000-nit, full-screen white." SmallHD accomplishes this through full array local dimming and a proprietary algorithm, as well as a film layer that helps to focus the color satu- ration and color volume to achieve an OLED-like image. The Vision series employs a direct backlight array that's made up of over 2,000 mini LEDs that are zone controlled. The light of those LEDs goes through a layer that focuses the color and satura- tion, and pushes as much as it can through the LCD. "We're dimming the entire panel in realtime in order to get black and high luminance simultane- ously," Donahue explains. Donahue sees the Vision series as a much lower cost alternative to high-end Sony models for HDR work, but admits that there is still a learning pro- cess that pros need to get a handle on for them to fit into production and post workflows. "There's so much noise out there about HDR, and everyone says they have an HDR monitor, and very few companies actually do," he notes. "Most of them are just high bright monitors. There's a big difference, obviously. Dynamic range requires simultaneous black, as well as full luminance and the color volume that comes with that. These are things that people really don't entirely understand fully yet, and because the production community… haven't really figured out a process by which they use an HDR monitor on-set for a production that is being distributed in HDR." Typically, Donahue says a production will use an SDR OLED on-set because the DP and director knows what a Rec. 709 monitor looks like. "Mostly what they're doing there is making decisions about shadow detail. But, if they had the opportunity to look at the full range of dynamic range, luminance and color volume, they probably would do so." When working with an HDR monitor that uses PQ instead of Rec. 709, a LUT needs to be applied on-set to see what is being captured. "That means that someone on-set — typically a DIT or colorist — has to create a look, save that as a LUT, and then make sure that goes downstream to editorial and to final color." While this new workflow has yet to be readily adopted, it is well suited for the production of con- tent for streaming networks. "It's definitely a home presentation medium," he says of HDR. "There's a lot of shows being pro- duced for streaming that are fully intended to be SmallHD's Vision 24

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