NATO Releases Technological Requirements for High Dynamic Range Projection

Jerry Pierce Headshot - P 2014

Jerry Pierce Headshot - P 2014

The National Association of Theatre Owners released technological requirements for developing high dynamic range (HDR) projection systems for movie theatres. That effectively means projection technology that supports a wider range between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks — something that has been getting a lot of interest from many cinematographers and filmmakers.

Developed by NATO’s technology committee and technical consultant Jerry Pierce, this early set of requirements is based around open standards in order to avoid multiple, incompatible proprietary systems — in other words, to sidestep a potential format war.

Many believe laser projectors, which can offer increased brightness compared with the digital projectors in use today, offer a roadmap to HDR. But in a statement released on Monday, NATO emphasized that it is not endorsing HDR or laser systems, but rather “we believe it is important for NATO to identify requirements necessary to bring these new technologies into our theaters.

“It is critical that there not be multiple proprietary solutions for theaters,” NATO said in the statement. “It is essential that a theater that selects one class of HDR or lasers be able to play all movies that are released in this class of new technologies. We also recognize the complexities of mastering to multiple target systems and the added complexity of distribution of multiple masters. We also believe it is time to define standards for new 2D and 3D projectors.”

NATO is asking standards bodies and equipment vendors to work together so that there are no more than four open standards for HDR: Two for 2D, with a maximum brightness between 14-30 foot lambert, and two for 3D, between 10 and 14 fL. This direction came out of work that was concurrently completed by the Inter-Society Digital Cinema Forum, a group with representatives from all sectors of cinema.

Pierce told The Hollywood Reporter that NATO believes the creative community can best establish the actual brightness levels based on their artistic needs.

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