Creating lifelike images is about more than just resolution. As the transition from HD to 4K is expanding the number of pixels on our screens, the move to High Dynamic Range (HDR) images brings greater contrast and larger colour volume. We’re bringing cinematographers and programme makers a new generation of tools to enable an end-to-end HDR workflow, from cameras to displays, to help their images get closer to reality than ever before.
HDR is a reflection of how we see the world every day. Our eyes are incredibly sensitive to light, allowing us to see highlight details in the sky while still being able to see in the shadows. And in darker environments we can see detail in virtually no light at all. Now, with HDR mirroring the effects of the human eye, we can experience camera-captured HDR, with wide colour gamut images that can be transmitted and displayed faithfully.
Shadow detail is often lost and brighter sections can appear washed out or white-clipped.
Shadow detail is distinctive with accurate reproduction, while brighter details appear clearly without any white clipping.
Our digital cinematography and studio cameras can capture dazzling high-dynamic range and wide colour gamut images, but the technological limitations of the conventional Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) standards limits maximum luminance to 100 cd/m2 (nit) and confines colour to the ITU-R Rec.709 colour space.
Modern LCD and OLED displays are capable of displaying higher luminance and a wider colour gamut. And with the development of appropriate transfer functions (OETF/EOTF) for both the production side and consumer side, end-to-end HDR production is now possible.
Due to transmission path and monitoring environment limitations, the highlights in the window are white-clipped and detail is lost in the shadows.
The high-luminance display increases the luminance levels of the whole image. The highlights in the window are washed out but the appearance of the darker parts of the image is improved.
The highlights in the window are reproduced correctly without any white-clipping and the dark portion of the room is also reproduced correctly.
HDR cameras have been around for a while, but until the launch of the BVM-X300, it’s been impossible to really view an image from the F55 or F65 as it was originally captured.
The best you could hope for was to archive the raw content and wait for the technology to catch up. Now there is a solution. The BVM-X300 allows direct viewing at full range without the need to make any conversion LUTs or changes to the native image.
Most monitors in the field today have settings for the ITU-R BT709 colour gamut. This is the range of colours that the display can present. Some monitors are better than others at hitting the colour primaries. The accuracy of this will have a direct effect on what you perceive. Inaccuracies in the colour primaries can lead to colour errors that are not in the content, and chasing these errors costs money.
The BVM-X300’s completely new panel design not only allows the monitor to display HDR content, it is the first 4K monitor to expand the range of colours that can be displayed.
Disney’s recent release ‘Tomorrowland’ was shot entirely with Sony F65 and F55 4K motion picture cameras and is the world’s first live action cinematic release in 4K high dynamic range.
The movie’s cinematographer, Claudio Miranda, ASC, had experience of shooting with the F65 and F55 and knew the stunning images they were capable of producing.
“These cameras are HDR,” he said. “The camera always puts out more information than we will ever use. We can add more contrast. We can stretch our confines. The concept is having much more dynamic range in the theatre. HDR is interesting because it opens up the contrast. It’s like adding more bass to the subwoofers of an audio system. We can make explosions that don’t burn out. You can have an explosion with a lot of light. You can use it for an effect, and it really opens up more in the DI, which can add to the story. You can go from inside to a blinding light outside if you want to make the audience feel that extreme contrast.
“You can have the dynamic range you couldn’t before. And the biggest thing is that you can have truly ‘black’ blacks.”
As HDR content brings the filmmakers and content creators to a new level of content production workflow, Sony is committed to providing a more complete solution based on a comprehensive range of cameras and monitors along with proven workflows.
Roland-Garros 2015 was a testing ground for 4K and HDR technologies. Patrick Profit, camera operator, director of numerous documentaries and the proud owner of a Sony F55 camera, told us about his experience in shooting in HDR at the French Open.
“It was definitely extremely beneficial. We were able to test the capabilities of the F55 and proved that it is able to shoot in HDR. For shooting in HDR, the subject must be very bright. The whites need to be powerful, but not too powerful — because if the whites explode, or if they are too weak, you don't get the HDR effect. HDR works on brightness, and it is brightness that allows us to gain exceptional image definition.
“We took two days to get our bearings with a histogram and S-Log viewfinder image. We were then able to use zebra patterns to correct the area of overexposure, allowing us to work independently, with total autonomy.
“Tests were performed in 4K, HD and HDR with the general public, and 70% were impressed by the HDR image. On the other hand, the difference between HD and 4K was less clear. HDR received the full backing of the public.
“With HDR, details are ‘accelerated’. When you look at a dark area and a bright area, without any special lighting, you see a clear difference between HDR and standard dynamic range (SDR). HDR offers enormous brightness, and it is brightness that allows us to gain exceptional image definition.