HDR: Revised Cost Alert and Other Stuff

Any professional videographer shooting V-Log Lite or HLG with the GH5 should probably already own the Ninja Inferno anyhow, since it unlocks 4K 60p 10 bit. So if you already own an HDR smartphone, the investment required to begin editing HDR turns out to be a mere $145.00 for a converter. Nearly all NLEs now support HDR editing, including DaVinci Resolve, which is free.

And in no way, shape or form am I denigrating the work of Art Adams and the dozens of others who generously give of their time to share shooting, monitoring, grading and delivery recommendations – it is invaluable information – but it’s often so technical that it is likely to scare off some who get dizzy just reading all the terminology. Many shooting today, if they’d read so many technical considerations about SDR – about color gamuts, bit depth, learning to read scopes, how dynamic range and color depth are compressed, chroma subsampling, gamma, log curves, debayering, color volumes – would never even pick up a camera.

Remember, when HD arrived not so long ago, there were just as many, if not more, dire precautions against such things as shooting close-ups of talent, concerns about the additional diligence required of makeup artists and so on. Then along came 4K, with its increased storage demands and need for more processing power. Let’s face it – filmmaking is an ever evolving, expensive and time-consuming pursuit – no different from many other creative endeavors. And just as in the realms of architecture, gastronomy, graphic design, and fashion, there will always be those who resist change. Is it just a coincidence that those most vehemently opposed to HDR are the very ones who champion 1080p and powerful diffusion filters? Do yourselves a favor and watch Chef’s Table on Netflix in Dolby Vision.

Rather than reading pages and pages about taking extra care with specular highlights and large bright areas when on set, why not just go out and shoot some tests yourself, and you’ll quickly discover some of these  precepts on your own. Then, there’s a lot of hand-wringing about how the video will be viewed in the home or at the theater – but this is something that has plagued filmmakers and colorists from day one! I shoot 4K, and I usually make my titles small because I don’t like chunky titles and I expect my work to be viewed on a 27” or larger display – so for sure anyone watching my stuff on a 5” ipod is going to be squinting. 😁

The same  applies to highlight roll off when grading HDR10. Should you deliver for 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000 nit displays? Realistically, most HDR sets today fall anywhere from around 500-1,000 nits, so the answer should be pretty obvious, at least for those of us who aren’t shooting for theatrical release. Fifty years down the road, when every suburban housewife has a 10k nit display on the refrigerator door, you can go back and deliver the project in 10,000k nits. Some may not be aware of this, but studios already make several trim passes – deliverables for the myriad distribution channels – which is how I’m able to enjoy a Dolby Vision program on a 600 nit display. For professionals, SMPTE has come up with the Interoperable Master Format (IMF), whose purpose is to make versioning simpler by wrapping all the versions in one container. Should YouTubers and wedding photographers be concerned with all this? Probably not.

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