Here’s to 2015: More!

If there was a theme to 2015 in production technology, it would be that this was the year of more. More pixels – 4K and beyond; more dynamic range with HDR video; more field of view as VR establishes; and more programming sources as Netflix et. al. become fully fledged ‘networks’.

Visually, High Dynamic Range video, particularly that of technologies like DolbyVision, are a much more obvious payoff, than higher pixel counts. High pixel count acquisition has many benefits: oversampling at source improves the image right down the line and the higher pixel counts allow for reframing in post if finishing at a smaller size.

There isn’t a huge demand from the consumer side for 4K, and there’s still not much in the way of programming available, but as TVs get replaced, and prices of 4K panels keep coming down, there will be penetration of 4K capable sets in homes. I doubt it will be significantly appreciated due to the realities of image size and viewing distances.

With HDR TV the benefit is immediately obvious: brighter highlights, blacker blacks leading to a lot more dynamic range and color gamut, but also to “sharper” images. Perceived sharpness has always been about contrast much more than pixel count, so the HDR screens are perceived as being “sharper” and “having more presence.” Walk into a showroom and the HDR set will immediately jump out of the lineup.

Right now, if you want to edit HDR video only Adobe Premiere Pro CC has support.

While I have no experience of VR, it is clearly a trend that needs watching. How mainstream it becomes is hard to predict, but VR gaming is definitely going to be hot. It also has applications for situational training and telepresence applications. There are those who think it will be applicable to narrative storytelling. That will be interesting to experience.

2015 was also the year that Netflix, Amazon, Google and the other new players in original programming became establishment. More options, more cord cutting. There’ll be more of that!

And yes, 2015 is the year when we had to accept that vertical video is a thing, and learn to adapt.