At the 2014 CES, once again I had the honour to be invited by Technicolor, a company which innovations for the last several years I can only describe as “WOW”. This year, Technicolor presented pioneering work on High Dynamic Range (HDR) video technologies developed by its Research & Innovation teams. High Dynamic Range technologies, as most of you already know from still-photography, provide exceptional image realism with the reproduction of impressive brightness and contrast strikingly superior to the capabilities of conventional displays. For those who are new to HDR, it is important to know that HDR enhances the levels of brightness and darkness (Dynamic Range) irrespective of the format evolution, HD, 4K for the future HD Format (UDHTV) and beyond.
There are three main approach of HDR (there will be a separate article for it). Expansion, Passing through current video capture, and improving current video capture and passing it through. The best approach is of course to improve current video capture and passing it through therefore it is future proof PLUS expansion to improve upon current video content. As usual, as the most forward thinking video company, Technicolor HDR use what I consider to be the ideal approach as mentioned above.
HDR Demo overview
Technicolor is addressing HDR in a holistic way, from the capture of new content (up to 20 f-stop as opposed to the current industry’s 10 f-stop) to deployment through efficient, flexible compression technology to enabling delivery on existing infrastructures, primed with high fidelity tone mapping (also known as “Color Grading” — which is not totally accurate, in my opinion) technology adapting legacy content to HDR displays as they become available.
Technicolor HDR technologies were demonstrated around three different axes:
· Technicolor plays an active role exploring ways to capture HDR content to enable timely deployment of an HDR content workflow.
· HDR Camera rig built by Binocle (a partner in the Nevex project lead by Technicolor in this HDR project) can take up to 20-stop dynamic range by combining two Sony F65 CineAlta cameras with one camera recording the first 10-stop exposure and the second camera recording the other 10-stop exposures immediately making a true HDR realtime video capture possible (Dolby Vision is only using a single F65 camera thus only capable of recording a 10-stop dynamic range).
· Technicolor has developed a proprietary solution for delivering HDR content and is actively contributing to standardization activities on HEVC extensions for HDR and wide Color Gamut in MPEG, ITU-T and applications standard committees such as DVB and ATSC 3.0.
· Technicolor’s technology provides high performance with robustness for a wide range of operating points from high to low bit-rates and bit-depths.
DYNAMIC RANGE EXPANSION
· Technicolor is also experimenting with technology for the creation of high quality content for HDR displays derived from legacy content such as Blu-ray and DVD using Inverse Tone Mapping. (not merely a linear dynamic range expansion) and from the demo I witnessed, the end result is phenomenal. The reason being is Technicolor utilizes a compelling dynamic inverse tone mapping solution adapting legacy content to HDR display characteristics whilst optimizing preservation of creative intent, using techniques inspired from and optimised for, human perception of light.
All in all, as I mentioned earlier… WOW!