At the recent Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat the conversations and reporting centered on the expected technologies: 4K/UHD, laser cinema projection and the latest cameras. But one topic was a surprise: HDR video.

You probably first heard of HDR or ‘High Dynamic Range’ when using your smartphone. The high resolution camera in your phone is now fast enough and smart enough to take ‘better than the human eye’ pictures by using a very wide range of lighting sampling to bring out the best possible image. Instead of choosing between high and low color value pictures, the camera instead samples and combines the best of each to produce results that are incredibly rich.

To give you an example, consider this series of images taken at various stops ranging from too dark to completely blown out highpoints. By combining them we get a beautiful image.

High Dynamic Range Imaging at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat
–4 stops
High Dynamic Range Imaging at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat
–2 stops
High Dynamic Range Imaging at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat
+2 stops
High Dynamic Range Imaging at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat
+4 stops
High Dynamic Range Imaging at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat
Simple contrast reduction
High Dynamic Range Imaging at the Hollywood Post Alliance Tech Retreat
Local tone mapping

This kind of ‘better than real life’ imagery is exactly what creative professionals are looking for. Imagine this complete range of dynamic lighting for imagery applied to an entire clip of video and you start to see why people are excited. But can this HDR technique be applied to post and broadcast video workflows?

While the possibilities of full HDR video are exciting indeed, it’s important to consider what impact this will have on workflows. Clearly everyone from camera makers to non-linear editors to monitor, TV and cinema projector manufacturers will need to agree on and standardize on a color space to ensure fidelity and consistency from creation through transmission. And we’ll need to make sure that our gear is calibrated for and can work with any new standard.

The leading candidate is likely Recommendation 2020 which is supported by HDMI 2.0. Compare the dramatically larger range of colors in the triangle for the standard Rec. 709 HD color space to Rec 2020.

HDR Video Quantum StorNext
HDR Video Quantum StorNext

This HDR technique for video will yield stunning, immersive video, but its application will have some surprising effects. HDR is not only a technique to enhance the already stunning 4K and higher resolution video, but will likely also be expected to be applied to HD productions as well.

The extra HDR color information will add more information to each HDR stream and may add as much as 10-25% more data. As with any potential impact to your content workflows you should plan ahead to ensure that you have enough ‘head room’ and capacity to ensure enough bandwidth to and from your editing workstations, and that your work-in-process StorNext SAN has the storage to support the new higher aggregate bandwidth.

So while you’re considering how to take advantage of this exciting technology, it’s important to think about how to future-proof your infrastructure for the latest challenges.  As always, Quantum can help you assess your capability and get you ready for whatever your future workflow challenges – and opportunities – may bring.

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(Video) See how Optimus, a leading post-production house in Chicago, deals with work-in-progress with the help of StorNext.

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