Master thesis

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Learn about High Dynamic Range video, color grading, the colorist profession, and follow along during the process of color grading a short film in HDR.

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Excerpt from HDR and the Colorist


written by Jonas Westling

Do you remember the advent of High Definition video? I do. I remember a friend sending me stills of 720p HD and 1080p Full-HD video via Microsoft’s MSN Messenger. This was a while ago, but actually not too long ago, and this was the latest time I was truly excited about video standards and related technology, until now.

Since then we’ve seen a couple of technologies appear on the market. In 2012, I remember going to the cinema to watch ‘The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey’ to emerge myself in the experience of stereoscopic, or 3D for short. I wasn’t too excited about what I thought was something of a hype; with more expensive tickets and some glasses I had to wear on top of my existing ones. The experience took a while of getting used to and although the effects could sometimes be quite cool and somewhat immersive, I didn’t really like it (yes, I also saw a few other titles in stereoscopic).

Another feature of this version of The Hobbit was the HFR-technology (high frame rate), which meant that instead of displaying the movie in 24fps (a common frame rate for movies) it was displayed in 48fps; which I thought made the experience less “cinematic” and more like that of a video game.

Since stereoscopic video we’ve also seen a push towards 4K/UHD- resolution. While I was really excited for HD and Full-HD the arrival of 4K didn’t excite me at all. The reason being that from the distance where I (and arguably most people) consume movies the increased resolution would at most times not really be noticeable. This might change though if TVs continue to grow bigger; making 4K-resolution more relevant.

During the most recent years we’ve seen another technology appear on the market, namely HDR; which stands for High Dynamic Range. This is a development that I’m quite excited about and would like to compare with going from Standard Definition to High Definition, this time it’s about the shift from Standard Dynamic Range to High Dynamic Range.

As you read this master thesis you might come to understand that I’m not only a consumer of motion picture content but also a creative with ambitions to work in the motion picture industry. I have a broad knowledge and experience in the audiovisual field; from music production and live performance – to recording, editing and color grading digital video. This master thesis can be seen as a part of my ambition to acquire a more specialized competence and get closer in becoming an expert in the audiovisual field. In this thesis I will try to inhabit the role of the colorist and use that as an outset to lay a groundwork for the delivery of HDR video, and shine a light on what it might entail for colorists working in the motion picture industry.


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