Curtis Clark, ASC (Moderator)
Matt Litwiller, Observatory Media
Collin David, Observatory Media
Travis LaBella, Observatory Media
Rick Taylor, Dolby Laboratories
EDR stands for Enhanced Dynamic Reproduction, which is Dolby’s High Dynamic Range (HDR) application. This discussion talked about EDR, in reference to one specific short film that was put through post as an EDR project, Telescope.
Telescope was a short film that shot on the F65 and followed an ACES workflow color pipeline (more on ACES here), so was able to adapt during finish to an EDR color and mastering pipeline.
EDR has an extended contrast range, which is viewable on the Dolby Pulsar monitor, which has a 4000 nit response (a nit is a measure of luminance).
EDR mode on the F65 has a theoretical 19 stops of latitude, and is fine within an ACES colour pipeline, which can handle up to a 30 stop dynamic range. There are only a few cameras that can encapsulate this dynamic range- F65 and RED Dragon were chosen for this very specific task.
Both DPs on stage spoke about the fantastic dynamic range, which enables far superior detail in highlights and shadow areas, and both spoke about the fact that the descisions when mastering were about what to leave out, not what you could hope to include. The wide gamut and deep colour saturation gives a very different palette with which to tell the story, and allows a real finesse to the grading of the material shot.
The high latitude allowed for a high degree of practical lighting from the art direction- lighting that comes from the actual set, in this case from the LED buttons in the spaceship and ambient light from the lights that are part of the set. This style of shooting will give cinematographers a greater freedom because they will not need to fill light quite so much- they can rely on the latitude a lot more. This will be a gift to night and low-light shooting.
What has not caught up yet is the on-set monitoring and scopes available, so while it was shot, the film was only monitored down to REC709 color space, discarding a lot of the detail. In fact, quite a few of the participants said that they did not realize the wide detail and color range available on the EDR shots until they got into the DI and mastering.
This goes right into the politics of workflow- how do you manage expectations and get consensus on the ‘look’ of the film when you can’t view even an approximation of the final product while you’re on set? Dolby is showing a prototype at this NAB show to address this- an onset monitor that displays 2000 nits, and would be priced to be an effective onset monitor. The VFX unit on Telescope was taking 16 bit linear EXR files anyway, so they were aware of the maximum latitude available, even though they do not have the monitoring or compositing techniques to take advantage of this at the moment.
Dolby uses the Dolby Vision system in order to create the various format deliverables, and this system was able to land onto the many different colour spaces required for a full deliverable list. The grade was still done in P3 colour space, and regulated by ACES. In fact, during this process, the ACES RRT (Reference Rendering Transform) needed to be adjusted, as it rolled off dramatically at 14 fL (foot Lamberts), but the EDR had a nmuch higher latitude, beyond this point. Now because of this process, the new RRT gives an extended head room within the RRT to allow for EDR images.
“The beauty of aces is that it allows for these issues with new formats to be resolved, so it is a constantly evolving workflow tool”– Curtis Clarke
The promise of this style of shooting is only just being exploited. The panelists imagined, for example, a horror film shot completely in the low end, deep blacks of an image, and what this could do for storytelling. This was a major thread of the talk from every panelist- that these techniques need to support the storytelling. This is just the start, and you can imagine just how a new generation of filmmakers will take advantage of the new latitude- a generation that had never known that 9 or 12 stops in image latitude was the limit anyway.