Holding pictures up to the light

  • With Adrian Pennington

Holding pictures up to the light

As filmmakers and broadcasters strive for better digital imaging and colour science, HDR is a core priority across monitoring and content capture - by Adrian Pennington...

HDR has grown in popularity due to the increased accessibility of content and the numerous technical advantages, such as increased dynamic range, wider colour gamut and smoother gradients, which helps to create more lifelike content. However, HDR adds a layer of complexity to content creators’ workflows, as they need to ensure their images are being faithfully reproduced.  

Canon is uniquely positioned to simplify these HDR workflows, from input to output, shares Aron Randhawa, European Product Specialist, Canon Europe. 

“The Canon Cinema EOS line-up supports creators with capturing HDR content with low noise, which can easily be fine-tuned for different purposes. As well as capturing incredible footage, Cinema EOS cameras are equipped with a number of tools to help make HDR workflows more efficient, including waveform monitors, Canon Log Gamma and PQ/HLG internal recording. It’s for this reason that a number of large and small scale film productions use cameras such as the EOS C70 or C300 Mark III to capture HDR footage.” 

As HDR capture grows exponentially, so too does the need for monitoring tools that enable broadcasters and filmmakers of all sizes to precisely view, analyse and then grade every aspect of their HDR content. That is why Canon is making more of its reference displays HDR compliant with Dolby Vision standards and embedding award-winning HDR monitoring tools in them.  

For example, the DP-V1830 which launched last year, delivers 1000 cd/m² full-screen brightness and a suite of monitoring tools including a HDR waveform monitor, Pixel Value Check and configurable False Colour, driven by Canon’s latest processing platform for class-leading performance. 

“These features prove that the DP-V1830 is a versatile tool for demanding industry professionals supporting efficient workflows in a wide variety of working environments,” says Ricardo Chen, Director, B2B Product Planning and Strategy, Canon USA. “All of Canon Reference Displays feature the built-in HDR Toolkit, which was awarded the Hollywood Professional Association's 2018 Engineering Excellence Award. These tools help to ensure a finished product that delivers beautiful and vivid HDR imagery.” 

Consumer demand for high-quality content rose at the start of the pandemic and has remained steady. As more streaming services have debuted, many providers have leveraged HDR as a content differentiator, especially in live sports.  

“HDR provides a richer, more visually stimulating viewer experience but can be challenging to execute behind the scenes,” says Bryce Button, AJA Director of Product Marketing. “Production and post professionals must often manage various HDR and SDR sources and equipment to ensure a final high-quality picture that is consistent and aesthetically pleasing.” 

To this end, AJA has continued to build out its HDR offering to support these needs, including a recent v3.0 software update for the FS4 frame synchroniser and converter. The release introduced VPID management improvements, new HDR test patterns, and a Web UI status page to display VPID information.  

“We’re also working closely with FS-HDR customers in the field to gather real-world production insights that can inform continued development of the HDR/WCG converter/frame synchroniser. Ultimately, our goal is to make it as simple as possible for professionals to achieve their desired HDR aesthetic as content moves throughout the production chain.” 

The SmallHD brand of Vision series monitors offer 1000nits that handle both the rigors of set life and the scrutiny of a grading suite. 

“Our technical team has spent over three years developing the proprietary local-dimming technology driving these displays, and we believe there’s no other monitor in this form-factor that comes close to the true HDR image quality we deliver with Vision,” explains says Greg Smokler, GM of Cine Production at Creative Solutions. 

Both Vision Monitors are crafted from lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum - with the 17” weighing 12.9lbs and the 24” weighing 22.7lbs - and feature interchangeable mounting points, as well as a dovetail mounting rail for battery plates and other accessories. Both models offer 4x 12G-SDI inputs and outputs, 1x HDMI 2.0 in and out, and 2x 2pin accessory power outputs. 

“Smartphones, TVs, and computer monitors now come with HDR capable displays,” reflects Smokler. “And if we’re already editing, coloring, and consuming content in 4K HDR, it’s more important than ever for creators to reference the broadest dynamic range possible while they're in production. SmallHD Vision Monitors are designed to offer the best of both worlds: finely-tuned post-production quality in a practical, ruggedized design - HDR for all.” 

Flanders Scientific is tackling HDR monitoring requirements in a twofold manner. First, for HDR content mastering and other highly color-critical HDR monitoring tasks, FSI continues to develop some of the world’s brightest HDR mastering displays. These displays meet critical performance benchmarks required for proper reference grade HDR viewing.

“However, for many other tasks a mastering level HDR display is neither economical nor strictly required,” explains Bram Desmet, Company Manager and CEO. “For these less critical HDR monitoring applications FSI has now rolled out HDR Preview modes on all of its current production monitor lineup. These HDR Preview modes are useful in production, broadcast, and other environments where an HDR signal is being distributed beyond a primary HDR mastering display. These modes provide a rough normalization of HDR signals giving viewers both a more useful and more visually pleasing preview of the HDR signal feed. 

“Operators can use these HDR Preview modes to help ensure that highlights are protected and shots are well balanced. This HDR image normalization is sufficient for the majority of departments on set, providing a very economical alternative to procuring HDR reference monitors for all production departments or requiring more complex workflows distributing both HDR and SDR feeds. A single HDR feed can be shared across the set with even our entry-level (US$3,000) production monitors now providing an HDR preview mode to view those feeds in an acceptable manner.” 

Atomos recently released the Shogun Connect, claimed as the first all-in-one device for HDR monitoring and RAW recording as well as advanced network and cloud workflows. This device costing US$1299 builds on the company’s Shogun line featuring a comprehensive set of monitoring tools and recording options., 

The enhanced 7-inch HDR screen is brighter (2000 nits) with a slimline bevel that makes it even more of a pleasure to use. Shogun Connect’s range of interfaces includes a loop through 12G SDI IN and OUT to support SDI RAW and Atomos Sync timecode technology for seamless camera synchronisation. There are multiple power options to accommodate studio or location shoots and connectivity options for Wi-Fi 6, network Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth LE, and USB C. Atomos has also developed a full implementation of the NDI HX standard for the product.  

In September the firm will release Live Production, a complete, cloud-based control room for live video and remote collaboration. With Live Production video creatives will be able to produce a live show, of the highest quality, at a fraction of the cost. The toolset includes a fully featured video switcher and sound mixer, with video effects, graphics, and talkback. Production for live events and multi-camera shoots has never been this accessible or this easy. 

Using the new Zato Connect, Atomos Connect or Shogun Connect devices, camera feeds are streamed to the Live Production system. Using an ultra-low-latency protocol, each stream can be controlled in real-time from a browser, iPad app, or any compatible control panel from anywhere in the world.