Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers fellow Peter Wilson offered a compelling presentation on high dynamic range (HDR) and interoperability to Thames Valley Centre in mid-June
HDR is the next major development in Ultra-HD/4K television, vastly improving contrast and detail to enhance the viewer experience.
Wilson dismissed some of the myths that have built up about the new technology: tube cameras and cathode ray tube televisions are not HDR; and the first innovators of this new technology provided charge-coupled image devices for post-tube cameras.
In fact, it was transfer knees and slope processors that compressed highlights and stopped bright detail from blowing out, providing better peak definition for standard television sets.
More controversially, Wilson told the audience at the Reading event that although 2K, 4K and 8K systems have higher pixel counts and therefore give greater resolution, the resolution is not as high as their marketing may suggest. HDR, in contrast, improves contrast and hence the viewer’s perception of detail and resolution.
The two emerging HDR technologies of perceptual quantization and hybrid log gamma, said Wilson, are simply modifications of the curves and compression knees used in the first charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, albeit greatly refined and significantly more efficient.
The challenge in using these technologies, he added, is in mapping between these curves and transposing the underlying metadata types that describe the two systems, especially in live transmission programmes such as news and sport.
The presentation was followed by the Centre’s summer barbeque at which members witnessed the deep shadows and vibrant hues of the sun setting behind a contrasting cumulus, allowing them to contemplate the benefits HDR technology will bring to telly audiences.