- Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2016
- CULVER CITY, Calif.
Back in late May during the SHOOT Directors/Producers Forum at the DGA Theatre in New York, a Content & Technology discussion featured panelist Jay Tilin, VP of editorial services for Company 3, NY, who shed light on the potential of HDR (High-Dynamic Range) which is top drawer quality brightness in imagery, allowing viewers to experience great highlight detail while at the same time seeing a greater depth of shadow richness and detail in those shadows. Tilin described HDR as designed to enhance and bring another dimension to the traditional TV experience. At Company 3. Tilin worked on the Marco Polo series for Netflix, billed as the first end-to-end HDR project. Shot on the Sony F55 camera, Marco Polo is set in 13th century Mongolia, with a goal of trying to portray the scenes as if lit solely by natural fire light or sunlight. Tilin related that for example there would be a fire illuminating a cave or a scene while viewers could still clearly see people’s expressions within that scene. Standard production practices were kept in place for Marco Polo in terms of image capturing, standard monitors, even the offline editorial dailies process, maintaining working environments that were comfortable for the crew. The magic occurred, said Tilin, in postproduction with images exploding in the DI grading suite, with special monitors able to display the increased HDR brightness and range. “We can start diving into what the camera actually captured and bring it out far more than what was possible with standard dynamic range. To give some context, Tilin noted that brightness is measured in nits. There are some 100 nits in your TV set at home. Deployed by Tilin on Marco Polo, the special monitor, of which only 14 are in existence, had a measure of some 4,000 nits.
Tilin expressed his belief that momentum will build for the greater brightness technology. Still to be determined is what action broadcasters and cable providers will take as they explore how to deliver this kind of increased data to homes. Currently HDR is only available through streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and the like. Tilin said that he went to a retail electronics store and saw two TV sets which displayed HDR. Next Xmas season, there might be 30, he said hopefully. “Will it [HDR] go the way of 3D? I don’t think so,” conjectured Tilin. “This [HDR} to me is a game changer.”
Fast forward to today and helping to build the momentum that Tilin cited is Sony Electronics which has taken HDR to an Ultra level, bringing additional advanced TV set options to the professional and consumer marketplace. Sony unveiled the sets during a press event on the Sony Pictures Entertainment studio lot in Culver City yesterday (7/20). The Z series is heralded as the next generation in television display technology with the ability to reproduce the deeper blacks, brighter lights, and vibrant colors of the real world. The new flagship Z series sits atop Sony’s current X series line-up of premium 4K HDR Ultra HD TVs, which includes the award winning X930D and X940D. The new “Z” moniker designates a significant leap forward and the ultimate in display technology. With this advance, Sony brings 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) to a new level with ultra-contrast and even more realistic, accurate color, in order to express what the content creators truly intended.
“The Z series is a generational advance in TV technology, which brings the 4K HDR viewing experience to a whole new level. Our best and brightest HDR Ultra HD television is proof of Sony’s continuing commitment to deliver the ultimate home entertainment experiences to our customers,” said Mike Fasulo, president and COO of Sony Electronics. “With expertise in both the creative and the technical aspects of 4K HDR shooting, editing, recording, transmission and display, Sony understands 4K HDR like no other company. The Z series is a direct result of that unique partnership between our engineering and creative teams.”
The new Z series has adopted the Backlight Master Drive technology, which Sony introduced as a prototype at CES 2016. The Backlight Master Drive is precision backlight boosting technology, which expands brightness and contrast to truly tap the full combined potential of 4K HDR. To further enhance contrast, the Backlight Master Drive features a dense LED structure with a super accurate lighting algorithm, discrete lighting control, and a unique optical design with a calibrated beam LED, delivering unprecedented dynamic range with incredibly deep blacks and dazzling lights for scenes that look more real than ever before.
Previously, local dimming was controlled by zones with several LEDs. The discrete LED control feature allows the Backlight Master Drive to dim and boost each LED individually. With the latest local dimming algorithm, the Backlight Master Drive delivers total precision for unparalleled contrast and realism. The Backlight Master Drive also has a unique optical structure: a calibrated beam LED design. It gathers the emitted LED lights in a spot and focuses the drive area more narrowly to display higher contrast. It also reduces light diffusion and the flare effect that can be seen on other full-array LED TVs. Additionally, the Z series features a newly developed 4K image processor, the 4K HDR Processor X1™ Extreme. Combined with Backlight Master Drive™, the Z series is able to attain extraordinary contrast and extremely accurate, wide color expression. It offers an even more impressive visual experience with 4K HDR content.
The new 4K Processor X1 Extreme was developed in order to provide the ultimate 4K HDR visual experience and is further refined with 40% more real-time image processing power compared with our renowned 4K Processor X1™. Incorporating three new technologies: object-based HDR remaster, dual database processing, and Super Bit Mapping™ 4K HDR, the X1 Extreme brings 4K HDR content to a whole new level.
By analyzing images in each scene and correcting the color and contrast of each object individually, object-based HDR remaster can reproduce scenes with the detailed texture and appearance of real life. This technology also up scales HD content to near 4K HDR quality. In addition to the up-scaling database, the 4K HDR Processor has a data base specifically for noise reduction. This processor searches through the thousands of picture patterns in these unique databases, analyzing each pixel individually in real-time. The dual database processing removes unwanted noise and up-scales every image to a crystal clear 4K-quality image.
In addition, Super Bit Mapping 4K HDR creates a smoother, natural picture. With 14-bit powerful signal processing, it breaks up the solid bands of color of 8-bit (FHD) or 10-bit (4K) source, up-converting 14-bit equivalent gradation with 64 times more color levels. It delivers graceful reproduction of faces, sunsets and other areas of subtle color gradation.
With these three technologies, 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme reproduces a wide variety of content with immersive 4K HDR picture quality. Combining the 4K HDR Processor X1 Extreme and the Backlight Master Drive, the new Z9D series offers a visual experience with more depth, texture and depth than previously possible.
But, the viewing experience goes beyond the screen. The Z9D has a slate design that encapsulates the ultimate experience. From the front, the design exudes sophistication in the form of a simple black slate, letting viewers immerse themselves in the stunning power of 4K HDR. From the back, the design keeps all the cables completely concealed, ensuring that the device strikes an elegant look from any angle. The Z series also runs on Android TV™ with Sony’s exclusive user interface. Android TV™ lets you explore a world of movies, music, photos, games, search, apps and more. TV lovers can watch hit shows and timeless movies from Google Play™ and enjoy what they like to do on a smartphone or tablet, from their TV. In addition, Android TV’s Voice Search feature has been enhanced to support natural language voice actions and longer, more complex sentences. And with Google Cast™, users can cast their favorite entertainment apps such as HBO GO from their Android or iOS device, Mac or Windows computer or Chromebook to the TV.
From live TV broadcasting to Internet video services, the new seamless user interface Content Bar includes enhanced content navigation along with voice search. The new Content Bar features a genre filtering function (availability region dependent). Instead of selecting a program from several channels, users can easily select a program from favorite genres such as sports, music, news, etc.
Z Series Pricing and Availability
The Z Series 65” and 75” class 4K HDR Ultra HD TVs are available for pre-sale today, and will be on-sale at Amazon, BestBuy.com and other authorized dealers nationwide. Here's the lineup:
•XBR65Z9D, 65” class (64.5” diagonal), $6,999 MSRP, available summer 2016
•XBR75Z9D, 75” class (74.5” diagonal), $9,999 MSRP, available summer 2016
•And the XBR100Z9D, 100” class (99.5” diagonal), pricing and availability details to be announced later this year.