Wednesday, May 20, 2015

HDR is the new new thing

For the past several years I have been helping goHDR man their booth in the futures park of NAB, the siggraph of the broadcast TV tech nerd industry (it fills up the Vegas convention center).  goHDR was the first to my knowledge to have a full HDR pipeline from camera to compressed transmission to display, and that is what got me interested in the company in the first place.  The goHDR booth setup from this year is in this video.

In previous years the industry was obsessed with 4K (what I call 2160p) and the HDR demo got little attention, and my impression was the broadcasters didn't know what HDR stood for.  This year was entirely different as the industry is looking for some new reason to ever buy a TV again.  In my opinion, HDR is more impressive subjectively than was digital, HD, or especially 2160p (I want that for coding, but do not find the entertainment demos compelling).  Only the transition from B/W to color was subjectively more impressive to me than HDR is (yes, sadly I am old enough to remember that).  Scott Wilkinson wrote a nice little piece on HDR at NAB this year and notes that HDR is finally on the horizon.


Thiago said...

As great as HDR is (or I imagine is, since I haven't seen an HDR monitor in person yet), I find it hard to imagine it being a more important change than when we went from VHS to DVD. I think this comparison illustrates just how crappy VHS is. And to be honest, that VHS example looks pretty high quality for VHS standards. As this sad image reminds us, we've all experienced old degraded tapes with artifacts and practically non-existent color info (chroma is stored at about 10x lower res than luma in VHS, which is worse than DVDs which I believe do 4:2:0 chroma).

If we compare VHS+old-school CRTs with DVD+HDTVs, the image comparison is especially striking. Unfortunately, most people probably experienced DVDs first with CRTs, so the benefit of DVDs was not as dramatic.

I don't have the info on me, but I'd guess that going from VHS to DVD likely also saw an improvement in both the luma and chroma ranges, so interestingly enough, we already went through one HDR improvement cycle!

Add to all this the vastly improved audio in a DVD, and I see VHS->DVD as what liberated us from having to go to the theaters in order to really appreciate a film. I think it truly was a game changer.

Having said all this, I definitely agree with you that HDR is a great improvement and way more important than 3D or higher spatial resolutions!

Oh, and let's not forget having to rewind the tape! :)

Peter Shirley said...

I bow to Thiago's examples!