Post Magazine

December 2015

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Page 40 of 51 39 POST DECEMBER 2015 OUTLOOK HDR O e already know what the tech- nology issues will be in 2016. In movies, we will be talking about higher frame rates and high dynamic range. In television, we will also be talking about HDR and extended color gamut, as well as 4K Ultra HD. The technology to support these ideas — certainly in grad- ing — is already here. But whether they become the next big thing or another concept cast aside — like 3D television — will depend upon the consumer. Manufacturers of consumer electronics are already keen to sell 4K televisions, HDR televisions and smart televisions. Will people buy them? More to the point, will they care so much about the new func- tionality when they have bought them that they demand specialized content? You can be certain that the manufac- turers will not be interested in anything else until they have done all they can to recover their investment in higher screen resolutions and dynamic range. They are already concerned that they are risking their markets by offering too many advances at once: they don't want consumers so confused about Ultra HD, and whether that means 4K, higher frame rates, more dynamic range, or some combination of all three, that they buy nothing. They also recognize that the smart, early adopters are reluctant to get too excited by 4K when they know that Super Hi-Vision, the Japanese 8K system, is just around the corner. If 4K is good, surely 8K must be so much better? But more importantly than all of this, we have to look at the evidence of the last few years, which has seen a com- plete change in consumer behavior and the ways in which people view media. Until very recently, content was either consumed in the cinema or on a televi- sion screen at home. Now people have a much greater choice, from the 50- foot screen in the movie theatre to the four-inch screen on their phone. Does it really make sense to have just one set of technical criteria for content that might be viewed under ideal viewing condi- tions with a laser projector in a theatre, or instead on a widescreen television in a domestic living room, on a laptop on a plane or on a phone outdoors? We know that consumer devices have the capability of changing the viewing experience, and at least some users will be keen to experiment with this. But we have to find new ways of communicating with the viewer about their experience, ways that talk not just in terms of sliders for brightness or contrast. If the content is being manipulated at the point of viewing — by the nature of the device and where it is being used, as well as by the preference of the user — then we should find a way of guiding it. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution, and we have to work within this new world to help the consumer make the best choic- es for their viewing environment. At FilmLight, we have recently led a transformation towards metadata-driven workflows, with grading moving from a single hero session to being distributed all the way through production and post. LUTs and an initial grade can be imposed on-set, the dailies process can refine the grade, and through the use of plug-ins, the editors and visual effects artists can see and adapt what the colorist is doing. At no point is any decision baked in. Everyone is working on the raw content and using common metadata to process the grade in realtime. Processing power means that rendering is readily accom- plished on the fly at the point of delivery. But what if that final render is moved one stage further, to the display? Deliver the raw pictures and the color metadata, and let the consumer device — and in- deed the consumer — use them to create the best possible experience given the screen, the environment and their own preferences. For what it is worth, I think high dynamic range in television has the potential to be a great success. If you are in an electronics store and you see a couple of HDR receivers amongst the standard screens, they are going to leap out as cleaner, sharper, more exciting pictures. That, I believe, is what will excite consumers. But beyond that, given the advances in processing power and bandwidth, it is certainly technically possible to pass the final viewing decisions on to the consum- er device right now. Maybe now is the time to recognize that the concept of the master file is outdated, and to find a language that bridges the gap between the artistic intent of the creator and the way that the consumer chooses to watch the creation. CONSUMER BEHAVIOR AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES W BY WOLFGANG LEMPP CEO FILMLIGHT LONDON WWW.FILMLIGHT.LTD.UK

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