4K Ultra HD technology isn’t new, but it hasn’t done much to win over new customers outside of the promise of “greater resolution”. Fortunately, a change is coming, with LG and Dolby at the forefront.
The future is bright for Ultra HD TVs, but while the LED-backlit LCD panels are bright themselves, the future we’re talking more about has to do with making the picture quality more impressive. Sure, there are technologies to balance colour appropriately and fast panels, but one of the areas filmmakers are looking to capitalise on is HDR.
Also known as “High Dynamic Range”, HDR is one of those areas that has graced cameras and smartphones for some time, but has only recently been employed in the art of making movies.
For those who don’t know, the idea behind HDR technology is to expose more of the frame providing a balanced image everywhere, so while you might take a picture and see the subject clearly but have a too bright or too dark background, HDR evens out those sections allowing you to see more of the picture.
HDR isn’t just something that can be dealt with from the camera, though, as the screen has to be made to support the technology.
Small screens like that of your smartphone may already support the colour space and ability to play back the large amount of colours needed for higher dynamic ranges, but larger TVs need a little more than a good panel to make this happen, and for its latest range, LG is tapping Dolby for this area.
“We are extremely excited to be launching our HDR-enabled LG TV range, especially those that also include the highly anticipated Dolby Vision,” said Grant Vandenberg, Marketing Manager for LG Home Entertainment in Australia.
“The technology is truly game-changing in the TV picture quality stakes, and we’re confident that once consumers experience the combination of HDR content with our new HDR-enabled TVs for themselves they‘ll find it just as breathtaking as we do.”
While you can toss the phrase “game-changing” around — and companies do — what LG is unveiling in this year’s range might actually match the concept, because with Dolby Vision on-board, you’re talking about a interpretation of HDR that takes in not just the scene and analyses it, but information with the HDR-equipped film for when the screen should be changing the brightness and contrast values to match what the filmmaker wants, all in the effort to help them tell the story as best possible.
“Dynamic range is way more important than resolution,” said Peter James, an award-winning Australian cinematographer responsible for photographic direction on movies such as “Mao’s Last Dancer” and “Double Jeopardy”.
“4K is good, but you need a really big set to see it,” he said. “I’m very in favour of large format capture, I push that with 65mm, but on a TV, you don’t really see it. What you do see is the dynamic range.”
That dynamic range is something filmmakers will be able to manipulate, with a feel from the colour able to be represented by the TV in much the way projected movies work, similar to when you visit a cinema, and sometimes even greater.
Few cinemas in the world are equipped to handle Dolby Vision’s interpretation of colour over HDR, and we’re not even sure there’s one locally that can do it, meaning Australians haven’t yet experienced this.