When, Oh When, HDR?

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What exactly is the point of advertising that the Ninja Inferno is also able to serve as a portable editing solution if the required converter costs triple or quadruple what you paid for the recorder/monitor itself? But that’s exactly what Atomos is doing. I was on the phone with Atomos technical support in Melbourne this afternoon and was told that the only compatible converters are the AJA I/o 4K and Blackmagic Design Ultrastudio 4K Extreme – devices which run around $3,000 USD – more than I paid for my 2017 27″ 5K iMac! And in Vietnam, the BMD Ultrastudio Extreme 3 with Thunderbolt 3 interface will set you back an astronomical $3,600.00. It’s almost like wanting to buy a garden hose, but in order to do so, you’ve got to buy the $500,000 home it’s attached to!

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As if that weren’t bad enough, I want to begin shooting 4K 60p V-Log Lite right away, but Atomos distributors here in Vietnam don’t even carry full HDMI 2.0 cables. The key selling point of the Inferno is 4K 60; without the proper cable, you might as well get the less expensive Ninja Flame. At this point, you might legitimately wonder why I’m so eager to jump on the HDR bandwagon when hardly anyone even owns an HDR television – and lately, I’ve been questioning my own sanity as well. The reason is that, even setting spectacular dynamic range aside, when viewed on YouTube, HDR video is incomparably cleaner and crisper looking than SDR. Shadow areas that are smudged and overwhelmed with macroblocking and artifacts when viewed in 4K are, if not immaculate, greatly improved when uploaded in HDR. Textures that were faint become palpable as a result of the insanely higher local contrast of a true HDR display. So much so, in fact, that I’d argue that the difference in apparent resolution is more appreciable than between 1080p and 4K.

[Update] Samuel Bilodeau, post production supervisor at Mystery Box, insists we don’t need the premium i/o connectors, just something that handles 1080:

The Ultrastudio Mini Monitor will work DaVinci Resolve and FCP-X for HDR grading on a Ninja or Shogun. You don’t need the 4K output, and you don’t need the HDMI 2.0 that comes with the expensive I/O boxes, since you’re telling the Ninja with the LUT how to interpret the input signal. DaVinci and FCP-X are more than happy to output a 1080 signal without adding the HDR flags on an HDMI 1.4 port. DaVinci makes no assumptions as to color space or EOTF unless you tell it to, and FCP-X will transmit a proper HDR signal without the flags if you hook it up this way. See our previous post on grading HDR with the Sumo 19 and the SmallHD 1703 P3X for more details on the workflow.

Note: The Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Monitor retails for just $145.00.

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