HDR (High Dynamic Range) Video – Which Approach Is Better?


High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a set of techniques used in imaging to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than possible using standard digital imaging techniques.  HDR images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.

Regular consumer level displays can only do about a couple of f-stop at the maximum which is only reproducing, at best, 20% of the entire dynamic range of a Sony CineAlta F65 camera — which is considered as the best digital camera currently on the market. So in order to fix this problem we need a better video ecosystem and so far there were three different approaches shown at #CES2014

1. The Expansion-only Approach.

Sony with their newest TVs will have “X-tended Dynamic Range PRO” expander which will artificially (albeit intelligently) expand the dynamic range of any video source when displayed on the screen.

2. The As-Is Approach.

Dolby Vision is an ecosystem process that takes the current 10 f-stop dynamic range and using metadata and difference data, the video is streamed to a TV with Dolby Vision chip to show the current technology’s native dynamic range as is.  The first TVs will be having this technology is Sharp and shortly followed by TCL Reference Monitor series.

3.  The Best of Both Worlds Approach.

Technicolor is using the most holistic and future-proof approach for their HDR system.  They can take up to 20-stop exposure dynamic range, compress it to a regular data “container” + “difference data” (just like DTS-HD Master Audio does with soundtrack) for full backwards compatibility with current system and system equipped with Technicolor HDR technology.  Furthermore, Technicolor uses a far superior intelligent algorithm to expand the dynamic range of regular content and faking it to HDR on your screen.

The Expansion-only Approach is currently used by Sony and only Sony as it is, after all, Sony’s own proprietary technology.  The As-Is Approach have already been showcased by Sharp and TCL during #CES2014 and promised to be included in their respective top of the line TV models.  Technicolor, as it is an IP company, will license the technology to whomever want and willing to pay the licensing fee.  There are plans of certain brands that will use Technicolor approach but unfortunately due to my Non Disclosure Agreement with Technicolor, I can’t name any names just yet.

Unfortunately the best way is the Technicolor approach as it deals with current capture technology, future capture technology and legacy software, alas the best does not necessarily will win out in real life.

4 responses to “HDR (High Dynamic Range) Video – Which Approach Is Better?

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