Tag Archives: HDR

HDR Experiments – conclusions

I would have liked to have had more contrast in the scenes we tested. The intention was always to try and eek out as much detail from the darkness to arrive at an interesting look. I feel this was achieved, and it is a look that could only come from two cameras (i have tried to match it with one video stream) and it has ‘hyper-real, high-res, extreme clarity’ HDR qualities.

So…was it worth it?

Well that depends upon your point of view. It is obviously a very expensive process. The 3D rig is expensive, you need twice the camera gear, it takes ages to setup, lens changes are hilarious, and you need alot of time in post. The camera set up is a beast and hard to work with; it is appropriate to think of the process as akin to 3D; it is hard to move the camera, so statics are good, and it makes sense to cut less like 3D. You can achieve a look, however than is unachievable in any other way, and for this reason, yes of course it is worth it!

I would like to do one more test in high contrast daylight, so watch this space.

HDR Experiments – 2nd test

The object of the second test was to A, create two perfectly synced and aligned video streams, and B experiment with HDR at night to see if enough detail could be eeked out of the shadows to obtain a pleasing image.

As mentioned before we used two Red cameras so they could be gen-locked and for the RAW files. One was a standard Red One and the other a MX Red, the MX set at various high ASA ratings to provide the shadow detail, and the standard camera left at it’s standard 320ASA and exposed for the highlights. We used a full size Element Technica 3D mirror rig. Once the rig was assembled and set up (a very long process) we had two perfectly aligned images. Rather than just point the cameras out of the window we decided to make something of it and put all the gear on the top deck of a Routmaster and drove around central London at night, shooting our subject lit and un-lit against the windows, looking into London’s city lights. Suffice to say getting the built mirror rig onto the top-deck of a bus was a giggle, but it all went remarkably smoothly. Results and conclusions to follow.

A huge thanks to Tony, Adam and Christian at Panavision UK for accommodating my ridiculous ideas; thanks to Alex Taylor for his faithful assistance, and to Simon Levene for bringing his directorial prowess to the project.

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HDR Experiments – MX Red Sensitivity

Testing the ultimate sensitivity of the Red MX camera. These stills are taken from some footage shot at 6500 asa 25fps/180º. The ‘dark hole’ (in Jeff Brown’s office) was barely enough light to get a meter reading. Suffice to say the next test is Red MX HDR; two Reds (maybe only one MX) on a full size 3D rig shooting some city street night exteriors. Thanks to Jeff Brown of Brownian Motion.

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HDR Rig 01

This is the rig we used to create the HDR footage in the first test. It’s a miniature 3D prototype rig (Element Technica) that is being developed for 3D on Steadicam. The unit is wonderfully small but seeing as Canon’s don’t work very well for HDR we’ll need a bigger one. We started testing with a 50/50 beam splitter mirror but trying to align the cameras is very difficult, and it would be a bitch to use on set, so with the plethora of 3D gear around at the moment the answer was simple.

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HDR Experiments – first test

As a first test and really a proof of concept, the above footage was produced using 2 Canon 5Ds perfectly aligned together on a 3D mirror rig, set at different exposures. The footage was then synced, split into two image sequences and then processed through Photomatix and re-conformed into a video sequence.

The Canon’s are not ideal for this however. They cannot be gen-locked together so there is some ghosting, and the files are heavily compressed. Next test will be Reds as they can be gen-locked and the RAW files will have a lot more information.

HDR Test Original Video Files from Ben Moulden on Vimeo.

Thanks to Adam and Tony at Panavision UK.