Baylor Launches 6P Color Imaging System at SMPTE+ Event

At Baylor University’s Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), Baylor film and digital media professors Corey Carbonara and Michael Korpi and senior research scientist Gary Mandle introduced 6P Color, the fruits of three years of research into exploring the creation of a wider color gamut image. The daylong virtual and in-person event was also the flagship launch of SMPTE+, the organization’s new channel for content and networking, introduced by SMPTE president Hans Hoffman and executive director Barbara Lange. “Expanding the Color Universe: The Next Frontier in Imaging” was the inaugural event in the new SMPTE+ Series.

Baylor’s 6P project is based on the idea that, even as the color gamut has evolved from Rec 709 to P3 to ITU Rec 2020, the world of color imagery has remained based on three primaries (RGB). “The triangular shape of color gamut limits the possible colors that can be reproduced,” say the P6 researchers, who add that their work is to look at “the advantages of additional primaries for enlarged color gamut,” to provide “colors in-between the colors.”

NASA’s integration manager for operational programs Dylan Mathis described how astronauts have often stated that the imagery of earth from space doesn’t come close to matching what they’re actually seeing. Expanding the color palette, said Mathis, could finally “show what it is like to live and work in space.”

Cinematographer Steven Poster, ASC spoke on his hopes for what 6P could mean for moviemaking. “Color grading is important to the story’s psychological effect on the audience — and more colors in between those colors is an important concept. We’re closer with ACES and 6P color to taking a great leap forward to control of what our audiences experience.”

At Pixar Animation Studios, senior scientist Dominic Glynn described how ultraviolet colors were used on “Inside Out” to represent the unconscious mind and its darkest fears. “The human vision system is adaptable,” he said. “And the color triangle is invariably smaller than the possible colors that the human eye and mind can distinguish.”

The Gearbox Entertainment Company vice president of strategy, production and operations Aaron Thibault noted the impact of a wider color gamut on the video game and VFX industries. For his company, color plays a significant role in player motivation, sense of wonder, player identity, and player values. Regarding identity, he said, “we need to reproduce a range of skin tones and other subtleties, to give players agency over who they’ll be.” Subtlety and detail is also important in creating environments.

Bally Sports coordinating producer Dave Evans described the importance of color gamut for live TV, especially for the teasers transitioning in and out of sports games. “If P6 produces a cost and integration factor less than when we went from SD to HD, 6P is absolutely something worth adopting,” he said. “The colors between the colors can bring emotion into the storytelling.”

Post production colorists Corinne Bogdanowicz (Light Iron) and Jill Bogdanowicz (Company 3) agreed that flesh tones and subtle tones in the sky are both challenges that could be improved by a wider color gamut. A bigger color gamut “gives us more choices and the ability to transform it in the different spaces we need,” said Corinne.