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Re: HDR in the real world

Re: HDR in the real world

Tobias Wiedmer // Cine Chromatix

I second Kevin’s opinion. Grading for a living room means chasing moving targets, so we definitely need a normed mastering environment. 5 nits as defined dim surround sounds appropriate to me. the problem should be tackled on the distribution side with the choice of a high end colour appearance model, which translates the perception of the image of the mastering suite perfectly into the living rooms, using the environment and maybe the white point as input and some kind of LMSish model under the hood. Curious how Dolby IQ will perform in that matter. But I agree that there is a problem right now.

just my 2 cents,

Tobias Wiedmer, CSI
Lead Colourist / Colour Scientist

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On 25. Sep 2020, at 16:25, alister@... wrote:

I would argue no, there is nothing wrong with our grading room conditions. Grading in a dark room allows us to see more detail to make a perfect master. We intentionally want to see the same or more, never less, than the audience.

Perfect Master for whom? 

I believe this approach is fundamentally flawed as this is not what the most important people, our audience, will see. We don’t make content to satisfy the small numbers that will view it under perfect viewing conditions, we produce content that will look as good as possible in an average viewing environment to the majority of people. The very fact that most audiences won’t ever see a large part of the darker range of the image should be a worry as it is all to easy to fall into the trap of producing something that looks great with the contrast range seen in a blacked out grading suite with dark walls, carpets etc but much less good when viewed in a typical living room environment where higher ambient light levels and a screens finite output means the viewer will only ever see a more limited contrast range. All that stuff in the deepest shadows disappears if we are not careful and the only people that master is perfect for is the colourists and production team that see it in that perfectly dark room.

It seems counter intuitive to me to grade for an entirely different viewing environment to the end use. Not saying we should be grading in bright rooms, but the grading suite should reflect a dim room rather than a blacked out room if we are grading for peoples homes. And that won’t ever change.

Alister Chapman 

Cinematographer - DIT - Consultant
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On 25 Sep 2020, at 13:54, Kevin Shaw <kevs@...> wrote:

On 25 Sep 2020, at 09:21, Geoff Boyle <geoff@...> wrote:

Shouldn’t we be grading for more human viewing conditions?

I would argue no, there is nothing wrong with our grading room conditions. Grading in a dark room allows us to see more detail to make a perfect master. We intentionally want to see the same or more, never less, than the audience.

I do worry about the problem you describe though - most people do not see HDR as intended. 
As I see it the problem is more that the display is not bright enough than the room is not dark enough. 

The reason we need 1000 nits without tone mapping to make hopefully future proof masters is that at anything less than 1000 nits it is hard to judge the effect of extended contrast - indeed I would say there is a tendency to just make everything brighter. 

With many TV sets pushing over 200 nits for SDR and many others arguing that they can show (tone mapped) HDR at 400 nits or sometimes less, the only thing that is clear is that it can be confusing.

For now turning off the lights to enjoy HDR is imho an acceptable compromise. When we get tvs hitting 2000 nits and above we can put the lights back on.

Meantime we are all learning and experimenting with what we can do creatively to take advantage of HDR technology. Somethings work across the range, somethings work at brighter levels only and somethings just don’t work. All technologies need to be mastered, I think we are lucky to be the ones that can set new examples for the next generation. 

And if I may add to the debate, my hate are those (Netflix) shows that choose to raise the mid tones in the HDR master. They argue that it mimics the brighter conditions of a sunny day etc. But to my eyes it lowers the effective contrast and looks really fake. A good example of something we can do, but probably shouldn’t. Just like those early marketing demos were the saturation was pushed to the bleeding edge. I think someone on this list once wrote that any technology based on its worst examples would be rejected. Its up to us to make the best examples that set the standard. 

There are now some great uses of HDR so I think we are getting there


Kevin Shaw, CSI
kevs@...          colorist, instructor and consultant

mobile: +44 7921 677 369
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