Dolby Suggests Green Where Post Production Community Is Seeing Red

Newly unveiled PRM-4200 professional reference monitor is environmentally friendly and aims to tackle a critical problem.

Dolby Laboratories introduced a new monitor for post production Wednesday night with a party at W Hollywood that was attended by the Who's Who of the Hollywood post production community.

Dolby's PRM-4200 professional reference monitor is designed to be environmentally friendly while also taking aim at a critical problem.

A reference monitor is a critical piece of equipment in post, because it is relied upon to check color accuracy during the grading and mastering process. CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors have long been the standard for reliability and accuracy, but they contain large amounts of toxic elements such as lead, and so manufacturing of such monitors ended although no new standard emerged, Bill Admans, director of image product marketing at Dolby, explained.

The scarcity of CRT monitors has caused big problems as post facilities try to hold on to the few that remain.

"They are all dying," said Lou Levinson, senior colorist at Hollywood-based post house Laser Pacific. "We've got a bunch at Laser, and I've seen two die in the last year. Eventually, they'll all be retired."

Dolby believes its new monitor -- which combines a greener LCD screen and LED backlight and lists for $54,950 -- can become the industry replacement for the CRT. "The monitor replaces a slew of devices that facilities are using today," Admans said. "With the demise of CRTs, people have been trying devices such as plasma and LCD screens as replacements."

The Dolby monitor is currently being tested at several leading Hollywood post houses, including Laser Pacific, EFILM and The Post Group -- and it is getting positive feedback.

"It is the only alternative right now, in my opinion, and we need it as an industry," emphasized Bill Feightner, executive vp and chief technology officer at EFILM. "If we don't have an accurate reference, all of our hard work that we do with color is for naught."

Laser Pacific's Levinson agreed. "I think it is a replacement for CRT," he said. "The only real resistance I could see for something like this is that it is not an inexpensive device--but it is a reference grade price."

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