8K TVs may be just hitting the market, but we’re many years away from that becoming a standard for filming, post-production and broadcast outside of a few key events (like next year’s Olympics).
Instead, if you want a film or series to look its best these days it has to be shot, finished and released in both 4K with some form of High Dynamic Range (HDR) – preferably Dolby Vision or HDR10+. At present, only a few outlets offer broadcasting at this level – Netflix, Apple’s iTunes and Amazon Prime.
HDR, or high dynamic range, offers a greater dynamic range of luminosity than what is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. Many 4K TVs on the market these days are capable of it, and the results of it in place often have a bigger impact than the jump from HD to 4K.
This week it was revealed at Poland’s EnergaCamerimage conference (via Variety) that Netflix has now made it a surprise requirement that all its original films are to be shot with some form of HDR in place.
The directive will ultimately result in a higher quality visual image for its users, but some Hollywood cinematographers weren’t happy about receiving that news at the last minute from Netflix executives.
Roberto Schaefer, who served as director of photography on Chris Evans-led “The Red Sea Diving Resort,” revealed he was slightly hampered by the new rules to shoot in HDR as he learned of the decision to do that at the last minute rather than it having been decided upon at the very start of a production.
It’s also presently not clear just how much the dynamic range of footage should be enhanced under the Netflix rule according to several cinematographers.
The recent conference also tackled other problems such a the use of streaming dailies on separate crew member’s tablets and with slow wifi is causing problems of unfair representation of footage. Even worse, back at the studio the executives will “see digital dailies on non-calibrated monitors in bright rooms and complain ‘it’s too dark'” which may go a little way to explain the lack of decent contrast and range on some digitally shot films in recent years.