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What Hollywood Wants from HDR: Technicolor Surveys Industry Perceptions (Exclusive)

Technicolor surveyed the industry to help boost greater High Dynamic Range (HDR) adoption and found respondents want more accessibility and standardization.

“The Jungle Book”

As High Dynamic Range (HDR) emerges as the hot immersive tech for content capture and delivery on everyone’s radar, with its wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks —Technicolor has posted the results of its summer survey. They sought to gauge industry perceptions and HDR usage, amidst a looming TV format war between HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

The two key results of the survey indicate that Hollywood not only wants HDR to become fully accessible to all filmmakers, but for the industry to adopt a set of standards for both capture and delivery.

Technicolor informally partnered with the American Society of Cinematographers and the International Cinematographers Guild on the survey to learn more about the concerns of the cinematography
community, and also brought the survey to the attention of the Producers Guild of America.

The survey generated interest from more than 200 industry
professionals, both in the U.S. and abroad, and yielded a completion rate of 70% . Overall, Technicolor considers the results “directional,” rather than “predictive.”

“We believe that HDR opens more choices for expressing creative intent —whether it is to present more realistic images, or to transport viewers beyond reality into the storytellers’ vision,” Sandra Carvalho, Technicolor’s chief marketing officer, told IndieWire.

Technicolor recently applied HDR techniques to “The Jungle Book” and “Sully” and integrated HDR into “Mozart in the Jungle” and “The Man in the High Castle” However, if HDR is going to be truly successful, it will have to be experienced by as many people as possible, preferably as quickly as possible,” Carvalho said.

"Mozart in the Jungle"

“Mozart in the Jungle”

“We believe this means that HDR needs to be delivered over any network and experienced on any device. As a result, Technicolor’s interest and influence in HDR extends beyond the content creation process, and includes engagement with broadcasters, network service providers as well as TV, tablet, smart-phone and chip-set manufacturers to ensure that artistic intent is displayed for audiences faithfully in every environment.”

When it comes to HDR, Technicolor believes we’re experiencing a “moment of inflection.” Despite a lot of HDR media coverage, there still needs to be an understanding of what it actually means.

“What we found in the survey is HDR is indeed on everyone’s radar (98% of our respondents were familiar with this technology’s development),” Carvalho said. “But that observation needs to be balanced with the reality that personal experience with HDR deliverables remains fairly low (only 11% of our respondents have been required to deliver HDR masters).

“The results also clearly indicated that a very high percentage of respondents would like to see standards developed around HDR (90%), and that HDR should be available to all manner of productions, inclusive of both studio and indie productions alike (also 90%),” Carvalho said.

But here’s the near term problem, according to Technicolor : The community of artists and engineers that are working on HDR is still in the “innovation” phase, with different people trying out lots of various creative and technological options across the content development, distribution and consumption ecosystem.

This has contributed to the emergence of “generic” and “premium” flavors of HDR that can add complexity and cost to the equation. “We are not sure that the market has had a chance to really work through all of these technologies to ‘standardize’ on any given single HDR technology for all situations and applications,” said Carvalho.

HDR Grading at Technicolor

HDR Grading at Technicolor

For example, the HDR requirements for creating feature films are different from the requirements of capturing live sporting events.

“For this reason, at Technicolor, we believe we are going to live in a hybrid HDR environment for some time,” Carvalho said. “That said, we also believe that the technology community ought to embrace an ‘open’ approach to HDR that does as much as possible to incorporate interoperability and backwards compatibility with existing infrastructures and workflows.

“Further, there is a clear need to get more artistic input into the development of HDR (30% believe HDR is being driven by industry creatives),” Carvalho said. “So, what we found on one hand is that there is a growing consensus that HDR represents a new canvas on which artists can work. But on the other, we confirmed that we are only just now getting the opportunity to see what can be done with HDR creatively.”

However, since many viewers of high-quality movies and episodic programming will experience premium content for the first time on tablets, PCs and smartphones, the next step is to see how HDR will be incorporated into the broader ecosystem of artistic expression across all platforms and emerging immersive mediums.

For more information, go to hdr.technicolor.com

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