Friday, July 04, 2008

The HD Masters, part 3


Image acquisition as well as the production/post process for all-digital cinema was discussed at some length. It seems to be coming increasingly clear that single chip (i.e. Bayer-filtered) cameras are not regarded as suitable for high-end imaging. In fact Sky has said that for this reason the Red camera is not acceptable for programme makers. As an aside I recently saw some Red pictures at a facility that is cutting a drama for the Beeb and they were having great trouble getting rid of the noise (and hence v.objectionable compression artifacts) in the blue channel - you'd not suffer that with a three-chip camera.
With this in mind it seems that the Sony F23 and Thompson Viper will carry the bulk of D-Cinema work for the high-end.

Schubin's Metropolitan Opera

Although the man himself didn't talk about it several speakers made reference to how the New York Metropolitan Opera has been transmitting it's live productions to European cinemas for the last couple of years. There was much talk of liberating theatre owners to do much more innovative programming with HD football coverage, music shows and the like.

3D imagery

Although I've always found 3D imagery a bit intense and (for me) it detracts from a good film (rather than adding to the enjoyment) there has been a lot of development work going on recently - the Dolby systems seems to be the one that will be widely adopted. The Hanna Montana concert movie was shot for $9m and took $65m in first week in only 800 theatres! There are more than twenty 3D films in production/post at the moment but they mostly seem confined to the pre-teen market.

NHK's SpaceCam!

An "Earth-rise," or the rising Earth over the Moon, was first captured by the Apollo project. The Earth rising image taken by the KAGUYA on November 7, 2007, was not a full Earth-rise (i.e. not all of the globe was seen in shining blue.). This time, a "full Earth-rise" was taken by the onboard HDTV cameras in faraway space, some 380,000 km away from the Earth. It was also very precious because it was one of only two chances in a year for the KAGUYA to capture a Full Earth-Rise when the orbits of the Moon, the Earth, the Sun and the KAGUYA are all lined up.
The shooting was performed by the KAGUYA's onboard HDTV for space use, which was developed by NHK. The movie data was received at JAXA, then processed by NHK.

One of NHK's project engineers walked us through the modifications they had to do to a Sony 950 to make it work in space - this for me was probably the most interesting session of the conference. They then showed us the final movie and it was fantastic.

There were several other interesting sessions including how the BBC Bristol's Natural History Unit has moved over entirely to electronic acquisition. They had some stunning footage from the next BBC animal show 'Life' - the sequence of dolphins herding fish off Madagascar was amazing. Get the BBC HD channel (or download from your favorite torrent site!). Over all I think 2008 is the year HD breaks through - with Sky and Virgin offering services and FreeviewHD and FreeSat just around the corner things look good. However - getting back to what Mark Schubin said about what is technically appropriate I heard an interesting comment;
A well authored SD DVD played on a decent up-scaling DVD player gets 'dangerously close' to the quality of 12Mbit DVB H.264

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