HPA 2018: Efforts to Ensure That TVs Display Creative Intent

With the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), filmmakers have been assured that the color decisions on set are carried through production and post, all the way to archives. But there’s a missing piece: the TV sets, mobile phones and other devices that display what consumers use to watch it. During a panel at the HPA Tech Retreat, led by the International Cinematographers Guild advanced production technology specialist Michael Chambliss, several industry figures discussed how to make sure that consumers see the images as intended.

ICG president and cinematographer Steven Poster, ASC reported that, 20 years ago, he and Group 47 president Rob Hummel, with help from Walden Pond chief executive Wendy Aylsworth, had put together an ad hoc committee, to discuss how the artistic intent would be preserved for audiences.

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“Rob and I came up with the idea that the material being broadcast could control the TV with what was beginning to be called metadata,” he said. Finally, that idea may come to fruition.

“We hire the best cinematographers and crews to tell the vision, so when it gets into the home it will inspire emotion and provide value,” said Revelations Entertainment senior vice president of production Kelly Mendelsohn. “It’s important that it get maintained for future-proofing.”

Samsung Research America vice president industry relations Bill Mandel noted that, “it’s the age old question.” “You can’t control what goes on inside a consumer’s home,” he said. “We have to work on educating the consumer.” Hummel added that, “we don’t want to overrule the consumer, but just allow him to have a choice.”

Chambliss pointed out that studies have shown that between two and 10 percent of consumers actually actively manage their TV settings. Meanwhile, added Karl Storz Imaging manager of image processing Dan Rosen, “the technology for carrying metadata is very robust.” “You might have some data loss in transforms,” he explained. “But the technology exists in the TV set to adjust the parameters appropriately.”

Poster dubbed a device-independent end-to-end color management system as “the Holy Grail.” Noting how “brilliant” the Digital Cinema Initiative was, he suggested that, “we need a new DCI.” “The timing is perfect,” he said. “We need it not just for the studios, but all the new studios creating streaming content.”

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Rosen suggested that, by adding technology that would ensure consumers see the content as its creators intended, TV set manufacturers can differentiate themselves from competitors. “I think the industry is making an effort to understand that reflecting original creative intent has value, not just artistically but also in terms of commerce,” he said.

Mandel agreed. “I think all the TV manufacturers would enjoy meeting with you and having this discussion,” he said. “I didn’t think there is pushback. Now is the time to have that conversation, now that we have robust color standards.”