We're seeing an interesting trend in consumer display technology shaping up at this year's Consumer Electronics Show that could impact filmmakers and video content producers.
If last year's Consumer Electronics Show was about introducing 4K televisions to the public, then the theme of this year's convention could be summed up as 'better 4K', at least as it pertains to televisions. Sure, more pixels are great, but at CES 2015, manufacturers are showcasing the quality of their pixels and display systems.
HDR TV: Selective contrast and brightness
Regular readers of RedShark News might note that we've been covered this topic through 2014, particularly the efforts of Dolby and its Dolby Vision products. Through an adaptive LED-backlighting system, display systems that adopt the Dolby Vision standard don't just produce a brighter image, but one that's brighter in the areas that should be bright and less bright in the shadow regions. The first high dynamic range Dolby Vision branded cinemas debuted late last year and the company is working with Studios to build a content library of Dolby Vision-compatible titles.
At CES 2015, most of the major television manufacturers, including Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and even China's TCL are touting flagship 4K televisions with HDR capability.
Quantum Dots: Better colour through nanoparticles
We first profiled 'quantum dots' last year in a very thorough examination by our Technical Editor, Phil Rhodes. For those interested in the topic, I urge you to visit Phil's piece. But here's the quick and dirty: quantum dots are light-emitting nanocrystals that "deliver a new value proposition for LED-based products, including extraordinary colour quality, manufacturing versatility and design flexibility," according to the main developer of commerical quantum dot technology, QD Vision, a company spawned from MIT experiments into the field over a decade ago. Current LCD models only achieve about 60-70% of the NTSC colour gamut. Quantum dot televisions, with some implementations of QD Vision's Color IQ technology, achieve 100% of the NTSC standard.
At CES 2015, all of the above manufacturers debuted 4K models with quantum dot technology.
Does this change the way we work?
The short-term answer is no. Productions will continue to use the most appropriate cameras for their budgets and adopt corresponding post-workflows to ensure the high quality delivery at whatever standard. But as these next generation consumer technologies become more ubiquitous and filter down from flagship to mid-and-lower end models, viewers may expect content that better leverages the greater image capabilities of their new televisions and we'll oblige them (eventually).