New HDR Digital Cinema Brand Launched From Ymagis

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France-headquartered digital cinema services business Ymagis Group and its postproduction, restoration and distribution company Eclair are introducing the EclairColor system, which they believe will improve cinema quality with high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities. If it succeeds, it could be another brand that consumers may choose from when they go to the cinema, such as Dolby Cinema.

"EclairColor allows us to obtain better image contrast and greater color fidelity,” asserts Ymagis chairman and CEO Jean Mizrahi. This includes HDR — a wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks in an image — which is getting a lot of interest from Hollywood filmmakers but currently only Dolby Cinema as well as Imax laser-projection-equipped theaters bill themselves as offering HDR.

Effectively a mastering and exhibition process, EclairColor is an ambitious goal as it requires various moving parts to come together. It would require adoption by directors, cinematographers and studios to make the content in the EclairColor format, and it will need development of a network of digital cinema auditoriums capable of screening EclairColor-mastered content.

Eclair, which was founded in 1907 in the early days of cinema, has history in this business and Mizrahi believes this latest development is something special. And so it's beginning to demonstrate this process to the stakeholders, and plans to be in Hollywood during the late summer to present its technology.

The EclairColor format, according to Mizrahi, is based on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ ACES (Academy Color Encoding System) and meets "about 90 percent" of the Digital Cinema Initiatives spec for digital cinema, (including its security system). Currently, only Eclair is equipped to do the mastering, but Mizrahi said the company aims to license its technology to postproduction system manufacturers (likely as a software plug-in) to give productions a wider range of mastering options.

For exhibition, Mizrahi reported that this would be a software upgrade with no required hardware to an existing digital cinema setup with a projector capable of displaying the format (meaning a potentially large base if accepted). Currently, Ymagis is demonstrating EclairColor in exhibition with a Sony 4K digital cinema projector and IMB (integrated media block). The exec said the company is talking with additional digital cinema technology manufacturers.

“The idea is not to have a closed system,” Mizrahi told The Hollywood Reporter. “And we can deploy it easily because it uses existing hardware.”