Industry-wide collaboration is key to a successful rollout of high dynamic range images across all types of cinema display technologies, Universal’s vp of creative technologies Annie Chang claimed at a Future of Cinema Summit, held Saturday during the opening day of the 100th NAB Show in Las Vegas. Vegas.
Presented by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, the program included an update on the work being done behind the scenes by individual companies and Hollywood-backed organizations not only to roll out HDR in theaters, but to unlock the creative potential maximize it with features such as higher brightness, deeper blacks and a wider color gamut.
HDR is not a new concept, but for movie theaters it is achieved with laser projectors these days. Barco exec Tom Bert estimated that of the approximately 200,000 cinema screens worldwide, approximately 50,000-60,000 auditoriums now offer laser projectors instead of previous lamp-based systems. Joachim “JZ” Zell, head of HDR content workflow at Barco, claimed that “the train has left the station” and predicted that HDR “will just become a standard part of cinema”.
Chang outlined the most recent work of Digital Cinema Initiatives (a consortium formed by the Hollywood studios in 2002 to create and maintain a technical blueprint for a consistent and high-quality digital cinema experience), including the introduction of an addendum to the specifications to support HDR.
These latest additions to the DCI specifications came about through numerous tests involving participants from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, American Society of Cinematographers, and National Association of Theater Owners.
“Filmmakers should see it as a canvas,” Chang stressed. “They don’t need to use the full HDR range, but this creates a consistent canvas so they know their vision is being accurately represented.” Speakers including Pixar senior scientist Dominic Glynn and director/producer Jay Holben argue that more education is needed to show filmmakers the potential of HDR.
There is also a new DCI addendum specific to the category known as “direct view” displays, the LED wall category that has been proposed as an alternative to theatrical projection. For these displays, the DCI specification includes requirements for interoperability and consistent image quality. Samsung and LG are among the manufacturers that already offer such DCI-compatible displays.
Samsung’s Bill Mandel urged the industry to start a discussion about content security for these direct-view systems.
The Summit program also included a nod to large-scale experiences beyond the cinema, culminating in the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, which opens this fall. When completed, the entertainment venue is expected to become the largest spherical structure in the world, with a 160,000 square foot wraparound LED display on the inside, while the exterior will be coated with a 580,000 square foot external LED display, both of which will have an image resolution of 16K by 16K was possible.
“The sphere is a unique use case because it’s huge,” said Roman Sick, CEO of Holoplot, the Berlin-based company that developed the custom spatial audio system that will be used in the sphere.
“The technology that worked for the old world won’t work for the new world,” he cautioned, reporting that Holoplot’s software-driven technology aims to control sound with algorithms “to make the experience the same in every seat” in the Sphere . He said the company may try to use this technology in movie theaters in the future.
The NAB Show runs through Wednesday.