SMPTE Releases High Dynamic Range Report, Aims To Sidestep Format War

The standards body is also aiming to complete a historial documentary for its 2016 centennial.
Courtesy of RexUSA

With interest in adding high dynamic range (HDR) to feature and TV content running high, global standards body Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers opened its annual Technical Conference & Exhibition on Monday with the release of a 50-page HDR study group report that it hopes will help standards bodies and stakeholders to find some commonality and sidestep a potential format war.

High dynamic range is a term used to describe a wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks in an image, and is viewed by many in Hollywood’s technical community as a feature that will create a more noticeable different to consumers, compared with resolution (Ultra HD or 4K) or high frame rates.

But with numerous companies and organizations using the term HDR in different ways, there’s concern that this could confuse consumers and possibly even start a format war.

The SMPTE report includes definitions, guidelines and other information. Importantly, it raises “red flags” by identifying key areas that require consensus, including brightness levels, compression and distribution, said SMPTE standards director Howard Lukk.

SMPTE is just one organization working to identify parameters for defining and implementing HDR. The report, which can be found here, represents the work of roughly 170 participants.

Also this week, the society released a trailer for Moving Images, a SMPTE film project aimed at documenting the history of motion-imaging technology and coinciding with the Society’s centennial in 2016.

In the works for roughly two years, the production has already captured more than 48 hours of interview footage and gathered rare archival material from the past 100 years. But there’s a rub: SMPTE has already raised more than $80,000 for the documentary project through a 60-day crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, as well as direct donations, but completion of Moving Images is dependent on further funding.

Lukk, who is directing Moving Images, said participants are discussing efforts to raise the funding to complete the documentary, noting that it would be "a shame" if it goes unfinished as the history of the industry as told from the perspective of the “engineers and creative people behind the scenes hasn’t been told.”

The SMPTE conference through Thursday at Loews Hollywood Hotel.