07 Nov 2013

Here it is: the Future of Colour

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The Future of Colour The Future of Colour RedShark



Amid all the recent fuss over 4K, it's easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm over resolution. Shooting a video frame that's the size of a photo taken by a stills camera is no bad thing, of course, but colour and contrast are still the most eye-catching properties on an image. But now we know what the future holds for colour

4K for 2K

Many people, even now, are shooting 4K for a 2K finish even if they're not interested in future-proofing because of the drop in noise and increase in sharpness that can be had by downsampling such a large image. But there are also all kinds of potential problems, from the increase in the demands we're putting on lenses and focus pullers, to the increased precision with which production design must be done. After all, when you can see every brushstroke, one needs to be careful about how the inside of your high-value sci-fi spaceship is painted. It's easy to overlook the fact that that's something which has a cost to it just as much as better lenses or a focus puller who's more in touch with his inner zen. What actors who worry about not being in the first flush of youth think of this situation, I hate to think, but I've long heard people used to looking at video tapes decry conventional HD for being too sharp.

Colour Rendering

So, more pixels. Be quiet, now, film people. It's sharper than 35. Until recently, though, one area where video tended to fail horribly in comparisons to film was colour rendering. While in practice these things are quite carefully controlled, a cinematographer once had (and to some extent has) the option not only of more muted or more saturated negative stocks, but also the high contrast and saturation of reversal, with or without cross processing or other tricks. At presentation, a film projector can project any colour that happens to arrive in its gate. The colours of film are limited only by chemistry, albeit complex chemistry which is the subject of much research, whereas the colours available to digital systems need to be decided up-front, before cameras and monitors are designed with their built-in red, green and blue filters.

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Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes is a Cinematographer, Technologist, Writer and above all Communicator. Never afraid to speak his mind, and always worth listening to, he's a frequent contributor to RedShark.

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