UHD HDR HFR WCG Made for each other, or too much too soon


Bruce Devlin TV-Bay Magazine
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by Bruce Devlin
Issue 108 - December 2015

The majority of LCD screens rolling out of the huge factories are now 4K-ready. They have a lot of pixels, and were not going to be chopping them up with a hacksaw to make small screens in a hurry. Even cheap mobile phones have more pixels than the big TV set that hangs on the wall of the front room in my house. Given there are almost no 4K consumer services out there, do we really need High Dynamic Range (HDR), High Frame Rate (HFR) and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)? At the risk of being opinionated, I say yes!

If I was being cynical, I could see that a big push for 4K screens is coming from the screen manufacturers themselves and that having a screen with more pixels will make up for the slump that has taken place since 2013. The problem with simply adding more pixels is that you have to have good eyesight to see them. The optimum distance for seeing a 4K image on a 4K screen is about 1.5 times the picture height from the screen. This means that if you have a screen that has a 32-inch diagonal then you pretty much have to be able to touch the screen without moving your body to resolve the pixels (assuming that you have your reading glasses on if youre Bruces age). For an 8K screen, the optimum distance is 0.75 times the height of the screen. Thats as close as a sun tanning bed (not that we recommend those).

Maybe its the British habit of wanting to sit in the middle of the room and to have a screen smaller than a full sized wall, but Im not convinced of the merits of more pixels. High dynamic range, however, works at all distances from the screen. I like movies and I like sports especially cycling and skiing. Both of these genres have tricky lighting conditions, where a system that gives you more detail in the highlights (think of textured fluffy clouds) and, at the same time, more detail in the dark areas (think of being able to determine how deep the hole in the road is while the peloton is approaching it) has a lot of appeal to me.

Ive seen well-made HDR content on a correctly set up screen and it is more compelling than simply having more pixels. Add to this the stunning effects of more colors in a WCG shoot and suddenly the home cinema experience becomes one that people can aspire to owning. The still photography world has demonstrated for many years that well shot pictures where the dynamic range and colour are managed can produce results that significantly surpass simply having more pixels.

When it comes to sports, I know a lot of people who use GoPro cameras at high frame rate (HFR) to capture their action and then show it on HFR monitors in their homes. Its a truly different and more exciting experience than many of the equivalent shots that we see broadcast on TV. As the millennials become the money earners with purchasing power, I feel that they will vote with their wallets and start to demand manufactured entertainment that is at least as good as the home movies that they can make today for relatively small amounts of money.

So, is HDR, HFR and WCG too much too soon? I dont think so. Screens with more pixels will increase sales of screens, but the M&E industry is more than just screen sales. Its about great content and great entertainment. I think that a new crop of content makers will learn the skills of HDR, HFR and WCG to keep me entertained long into my retirement. Bring it on.


Tags: iss108 | bruces shorts | dalet | uhd | hdr | hfr | wcg | Bruce Devlin
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin

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