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HDR Projection - experiences


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#1 Albion Hockney

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 03:13 PM

I have yet to see any films in the new "Dolby Vision" or any of the HDR televisions yet. I was curious from people who have what their thoughts are. It seems like a really big step forward as the discrepancy between cameras ability to capture a large latitude and then display it has always been an issue - even with film projection.

 

Has anyone shot material of their own and viewed it in this way?

 

Will this change any creative choices you would make when shooting?


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 04:05 PM

With its extended brightness range, HDR images tend to look more three-dimensional even in 2-D.  For the most part, this is a good thing, it allows you to have contrast but without a loss of shadow or highlight detail.

 

But it rubs against one of the basic conflicts of cinematography, which is whether it should be a clear window on reality or a pictorial transformation of reality into graphic art. There are times for aesthetic reasons you want less dynamic range, more "flatness", or less clarity and depth, especially if your images are meant to emulate 2-D art like classic paintings, old photographs, old movies, etc.

 

But I'm sure one could release a movie in HDR where you didn't always take advantage of the full brightness range.

 

For the most part, I don't think you need to change your approach much, though Roger Deakins on his website mentioned doing the HDR version of one of his movies recently (probably "Sicario") and finding that a bright window behind an actor's head to be more distracting when it was pushed to the new high point for whites.  But again, you can always decide to dull-down that white area in post within limits when it gets too distracting (within limits, you don't want a big patch of white to look gray-ish).


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#3 Albion Hockney

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 06:52 PM

I thought it might be interesting creatively to really use that new space. For example I thought about the idea of having a very dark night scene using the bottom half of the latitude and then cut to a bright daytime scene that could have highlights that are almost uncomfortably bright - like when you walk outside on a sunny day.


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 07:20 PM

I believe James Wong Howe did that in "The Molly Maguires".


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#5 Sam Sheppard

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 07:23 AM

Hello

 

I've graded material using all of the screens from each manufacturer, including the 4000 nit monitor from Dolby that is the brightest of them all. I found that very little changed for me as a colourist - although it did require me to either grade on top of a transform (like the PQ curve) or under the same transform. I experimented first and found that both grading Linear Light under a PQ transform, and grading on a Log flavour like LogC/REDLogFilm/SLog3/CanonLog2/etc, also underneath a PQ transform, and all resulted in successful workflows. If I had to use any analogy I would say that it was like grading for a film deliverable again - I was grading under a LUT transform (although in this case it wasn't a LUT, it was a shader transform that didn't create clipping like a LUT can do).

 

I've been spoiled though and all of the material that I've worked on so far has been either C300 mkII, RED Dragon, Arri Alexa, or Sony F55. The thing I find that I have to remind some cinematographers occasionally is that your digital cameras have all been HDR for years now. What we're seeing currently is just the displays catching up to you. As such I found it quite enjoyable to grade using an HDR display as all of the camera RAW 'flavours' like .r3d/.ari/.rmf/etc all seemed to 'fit' on the HDR screens naturally (in terms of luminance and dynamic range). It was a very natural way to grade I found - although it does require the colourist to understand what their tools are doing so that they can select the right tool for the job. Some tools/systems only work in the data range between 0-1. If you're happy to work linear (which is what your cameras 'see' and what is usually what VFX prefer to work with) then some systems aren't able to work with Linear material that goes beyond 1 (hence why we still have all of the different Log flavours to deal with).

 

Most of my experience with HDR has been on a Mistika for grading, although I've done a small amount on a Resolve, and some more on a Baselight. In all of these cases I found that it was the colourist that was the limit of the creativity. If the cinematographer had shot and exposed the image well then the colourist should have no problems working with that image in HDR or LDR (low dynamic range). Its just important that the colourist and the grading toolset be able to work directly on the Linear Light material if that's the way you want to work.

 

It's also important to have access to Colour Management tools that aren't limited to 0-1 ranges like most LUTs are. Tools like Mistika's UniColour and Baselight's Truelight Colour Spaces work using mathematical shader transforms that are non-destructive (so that you can reverse them later) and are not limited to a range (for most camera transforms like LogC, CLog, SLog3, etc).

 

I haven't had the pleasure of grading to a Dolby projector but I have seen Star Wars at the Dolby cinema in London. That was using a 107 nit projector (as opposed to the normal 48 nit that we're all used to). As well as being brighter the main thing that I noticed was that the blacks were indeed blacker than usual for a projector (due to light bleed from the lamp in normal projectors). The blacker blacks and the brighter whites did indeed result in a dynamic range that was more than just a simple doubling.

 

It's the monitors that really change things in terms of displays in my opinion. Even just the 1000 nit ones create a huge difference. And I'm sure you can imagine how bright 4000 nits displaying a sunny exterior can be.


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