It’s that time of year again to look back and see what 2015 bought us in terms of technology that enhances the ever changing video production workflow and experience. In 2014 I talked about UltraWide displays taking over the video production desktop and no question I’ve seen them everywhere as I traveled around the globe this year. While there are several high quality models of these 34” wide displays on the market from various manufactures, no question that the LG models still stand out to me with their onboard Thunderbolt which helps us in our daily workflow with so many add-on Thunderbolt benefits ranging from portable storage to 10Gig Ethernet adapters and more.
For 2015, I once again look to what’s changing in our world of high-end video production. We all know 4K/UDH is here and available at various price points that attract buyers at all levels. But honestly, 4K for me is not enough to change my personal TV viewing habits. I’ve been working daily in 4K and even some 8K for a while and for the past few years we have narrowed down many of the 4K – 6K resolution challenges. These once complex high-end workflow pipelines are now fairly commonplace in many video production houses.
We all knew that High Dynamic Range color (HDR) is coming and as you can imagine working for a company like Adobe Systems (20 years now), I’ve been working with HDR in one form or another for many years. If you are new to HDR for video, in simple terms, it’s higher contrast/brightness and more accurate color that deliver a more “real world” experience. For years, I’ve worked with extremely high-end proofing displays and often wondered when/how would we get that quality delivered to the average consumer for everyday use. My peers and I would discuss these questions as they would range from the obvious workflow pipeline (moving huge files in/out of production) to content delivery to the consumer.
For the past several weeks, I’ve buried myself into the latest 4K & HDR technologies. As with any new technology you need to look at what will drive the change. Or – why would anyone spend money on this?
Whenever new TV technology comes out, it usually requires you spend a lot more money to buy additional items to get the full experience. These include things like expensive media players or worse, special 3D glasses that only work with that particular TV set and so on. For the record, I still dig good Stereo 3D content, but lets face it, it’s not really an everyday thing and it’s more or less a fad that had it’s time. I consider it more as a special event technology.
4K and HDR is anything but a fad. The sheer difference in image quality will leave in you awe. If you are new to 4K, you’ll quickly see that the image looks great when you are really close to the TV. This is completely opposite from your current experience with many LCD or Plasma sets which looks better from about 6-8 feet back. With 4K/UHD resolution sitting about 6-8 feet back from the TV it still looks great but any further back and you will quickly see that it starts to lose it’s effectiveness.
With 4K and HDR content your experience is completely different. The image is strikingly better no matter how close or how far back you are. The simple reason for this is the new color space it now offers the viewer. I could go into a deep explanation of current TV standards known as Rec709 and switching to newer standards like Rec2020, but all you really need to know that the image is so different and more true to life, you’ll be hooked at first glance – guaranteed.
What about content? This was my first question when I started reviewing this technology. We all know to well that “Content is King” for any kind of mass adoption. As you can imagine, at first, I had lots of questions: What’s required for the full experience? Will I need to buy another media player? If so, forget it… I have too many already.
WOW, was I surprised when I started to look for HDR content. There is already HDR content ready to stream to your TV and no “extra” media player is required to view it as it’s all built in the Smart TV and ready to use.
Companies are already fighting for your “eyes on screen” time as there is simply too much video content to absorb in one day. The video production world is quickly ramping up and learning newer and faster ways to work with HDR as one sure way to get more eye on their screens.
People are always looking for new ways to see, experience, and share video content. I see HDR as hands down a clear winner for new content technology that will quickly evolve. If you remember the first time you saw HDTV vs your old TV , HDR will leave you with the same feeling.
What’s changed for content delivery in 2015 – 2016? As you might recall, previous advanced tech like HDTV or worse 3D, usually was centered around sports or specially video like nature shorts. Currently for me, Amazon has been the HDR destination place and they have some great new content with more coming. I’m currently hooked on a new show called “The Man In The High Castle” which is beautifully shot and breathtaking in terms of the total picture immersion experience. Tip- HDR really stands out in this series starting with episode 3 when there are brighter shots outside the city. Amazon has several other HDR series as well as movies. No question more are on the way and other media delivery/broadcast companies are taking note.
What makes it different and do I buy now or wait?
With HDR, for me it all comes down to the power of light and how to control it. How black is the black and how pure is the white? These are the image basics for great and accurate color. Hands down OLED is my current technology of choice. Once you see the difference between the various technologies it’s a no brainer.
Again, it’s all in the power of controlling the light. Here are 2 TVs showing LED vs OLED. There is virtually no bleed of the white light. In simple terms pure black is produced by turning off the voltage at the pixel level. You’ll quickly notice when the TV goes to pure black it looks as if the TV is completely turned off. Another bonus… OLED also draws less power compared to other LCD & Plasma technology.
While there are several companies making OLED TVs available, LG clearly as a company that is committed 100% to bring this technology to the home. They are basically putting all of their efforts in the OLED space and helping to bring the cost down to affordable levels for the average consumer. As with any new technology, it does come at a price when it first rolls out and settles down after several months. If you are looking for a long-term TV now rather than replacing your TV every few years then take a look at the new LG OLED HDR TVs. Your best bet is aim higher and keep the set longer and enjoy the new content as it rolls out.
Back to Content Delivery…LG has built their content delivery on webOS 2.0 . You might remember this technology from a few years ago from cell phone maker Palm Inc. and later sold to HP. In 2013 LG acquired WebOS from HP and it’s now part of the growing LG family of advanced technologies. LG’s WebOS 2.0 for SmartTVs now includes even more powerful features in it’s software development kit making it a solid and fast technology to build a content delivery playback platform.
I reviewed lots of SmartTVs over the years and one thing always stood out…the built-in apps are too slow…. This includes many set top boxes that all had access to various Content Apps – all too slow… The webOS 2.0 App experience on the LG TV’s like the Curved 65EG9600 and the standard 55EF9500 is blazing fast. There are also additional free Apps you can download from the LG Content Store.
For quick navigation, LG also provides a very simple remote that acts like an “Air Mouse” making application switching a breeze. You can quickly jump from 4K YouTube to Netflix or Hulu to Amazon HDR with a simple point and click just like your desktop or laptop.
What’s next in my HDR workflow testing for 2016? I’ve added LG 55EF9500 OLED display to my current editing suite and so far I’m very impressed with the result for 4K preview – actually it’s stunning. I also use a LG Curved 65EG9600 for viewing online content via the built-in webOS 2.0 as well as a 4K ready TivoBolt matched with a Yamaha RX-A1050 AVENTAGE 4K HDR receiver – Yes, I’m all in……
Lastly , what about HDR preview in Premiere Pro CC ? I’m currently beta testing some new and some unreleased computers with the first HDMI 2.0 on board display output. The goal is to see how/if we can use OLED technologies and HDMI 2.0 with 10bit/12bit color HDR workflows and it’s metadata (that’s the “magic trigger” that turns on HDR) for workflow preview. I’ll also be looking for adapters to bridge SDI to HDMI 2.0 to carry those signals at CES 2016 for 3rd party I/O cards that currently offer 4K HDR over SDI.
For now – well done LG on your successful rollout and commitment to OLED.
Only one small complaint keeping it from 5 stars … No Skype on webOS 2.0 (**note**a Microsoft issue not LG issue) and I use Skype a lot in my studio. Let’s hope that gets addressed.
More to come…