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Recreating real-world color: the promise of Hybrid Log Gamma

Recreating real-world color: the promise of Hybrid Log Gamma 

There’s lots of excitement around the potential of immersive volumetric content to transform viewing experiences. In the past, we’ve pointed to the enterprise applications of VR, as well as some of the amazing progress being made in the development of AR and MR devices. 

But, despite this progress, immersive content has yet to fully enter people’s homes and become a staple of mainstream consumption. 

To reach that stage, immersive content will have to be – at a minimum – as good as what’s already captured by traditional devices. Advancements in both capture and display tech are needed, because the central conceit of immersive content is how closely it mimics our real-life perceptions. 

The move to ACES

When it comes to capture, it’s become increasingly clear that the key to creating immersive content is in displaying the vivid colours we see in the real-world on the screen. The well-regarded Academy Colour Encoding System (ACES) standard can help achieve this. It keeps images in a high dynamic range (HDR) and wide colour gamut to ensure they are stored in the widest possible color space until the final stages of the pipeline.

But adoption has been low, and confusion remains over how ACES guidelines can be implemented across the pipeline. Despite being held in such high esteem, it’s still something of a dark art—but it’s crucial if progress on the capture side is to be achieved.

Family watching 3D Cyclist in TV

 

Delivering HDR content 

There then remains the other end of the challenge, which comes in the form of the display technology through which HDR content can be delivered. Unlike the now-ubiquitous 4K Ultra HD resolution, HDR comes in multiple forms and any given TV may not have access to them all. 

Here, it’s developments in Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), a more flexible HDR standard, which hold the greatest promise. Where other forms of HDR use metadata to inform TVs on colour display – something older sets are unable to assimilate – HLG starts with a standard dynamic range signal compatible with any TV.

This means it can deliver the content – and display colors correctly – on old and modern TV models, which makes it a stronger candidate for bringing immersive content into mainstream use. 

Color and depth 

Ultimately, it is the combination of improved color and improved depth that will deliver immersive experiences—and this will require a few significant leaps on both the capture and display fronts. These will have to take place side-by-side. After all, there is little incentive to develop new ways to capture content if the screens through which it is delivered remain unavailable.

This dilemma has not gone unrecognised, and there are signs that companies are beginning to develop capture and display tech in tandem. But it’s a reminder of how, even with the most exciting innovations, multiple elements need to combine before they can permeate the homes of the world.