Thread: CES 2017: Phil's Industry-centric Thoughts

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  1. #1 CES 2017: Phil's Industry-centric Thoughts 
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
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    It's that time of the year ago for the Consumer Electronics Show to roll into town and show us everything that is and will be.

    What's good? A building on many trends and technology developments over the past few years. I'll keep it short, but here's some fun stuff.

    Display Technology:

    The display technology at this moment is moving faster than many facets of the industry, which isn't exactly how this always worked. However, it is indeed paving the road clearly in what "we" should be aiming.

    4K. First and clearly, everybody and their brother's cousin is now making 4K displays. And affordable ones at that. This didn't take long to get this technology into base consumer's hands when it comes to price point. I wrote about that just a few years ago and boom here we are. What's even better is for those who desire higher image quality there are some really nice options for those willing to pay a bit more for that experience. New OLED displays from LG, Sony, Sharp, and QLED tech from Samsung are flexing just what these manufacturers can do. The big bonus here is color seems to be a big focus this year.

    8K. Considering that less than a year ago any display that was 8K would cost you more than the cameras you'd shoot it with, this year's big news is indeed Dell's new 32 inch UHD 8K (7680x4320) coming in this March at a prices of $5K. While expensive, it's a tremendous accomplishment to make something like this available to the market at this price. And in a year or two we'll see that again go down in a similar way that 4K displays have dropped so massively. It covers 100% of sRGB and AdobeRGB as well. Sharp has already shown a 27 inch prototype as well and there have been 8K screens as small as 13 inches floating around. Certainly a developing story.

    HDR. It would appear that Dolby Vision has been "the thing" when it comes to HDR and many displays will be supporting it. Notably from Sony and Philips (no relation). HDR has been making a generally positive impact towards consumers and combined with high resolution display technology you'll be seeing some very immersive content. That is, if executed well. Lots of the early HDR stuff has been hit or miss, but when it's done well people tend to go "wow". Other entities like Netflix and Amazon are already supporting and embracing HDR btw.

    HDMI 2.1. Support for 4K/120fps and 8K/60fps as well as "10K"/60fps is on the horizon, though 10K is 10K wide from what I gather despite other news sources online (ideal for wide displays/multiple displays). Also big news is support for Dynamic HDR (two dynamics in one term is twice the goodness right?) which can adapt and optimize each frame, which some have been asking for. Perhaps even bigger and better news though is support for *gasp* 10, 12, AND 16-bit Rec.2020. This will all lead to a way to deliver rather detailed and colorful images. Can't wait for screens to hit the market that fully exploit this forward thinking tech. Also very notable is the support for Dolby Atmos sound, I would expect a fairly large revolution in home entertainment audio within the next 2-3 years because of this.

    Some side topics.

    Screen Design. Moderately a side note, but not really as it's a growing trend. There's certainly an effort by nearly every manufacturer to produce very, very thin high resolution displays. Entertainment space in the home is indeed a changing landscape and this sets the stage for more of me harping about "The Window Effect" as displays are so thin, high resolution, and colorful enough to potentially be mistaken with a window as of 2017. But this also brings a sense of elegance and simplicity behind set design, which can lead to a better watching experience in reality. It's commendable to see what's possible with huge sets coming in at less than the weight of small dog and about as thick as your cellphone.

    How this relates to you as RED shooter. Short answer. You've invested wisely in your camera. Not to mention that RED cameras now have SDR and HDR and themselves are high resolution/high dynamic range capture systems. Much of the industry who is focused on 4K or 4K plus delivery isn't interested in upscaling and at a bare minimum you need that 4K pixel resolution. I prefer to work for 4K and 5K+ and scale down due to the Bayer pattern and demosiacing. 8K is a bit more interesting as 8K for 8K shooting/finishing looks very good on very large screens. Though I imagine one day we'll see higher resolution than that even. Overall for most RED cameras you have resolution to spare when it comes down to it. Personally I find something deeply satisfying capturing in 8K and scaling to 4K or going straight to 8K. It really looks good when everything is done properly.

    Computers, a focus on mobile and/or all in ones, sort of: Truly fascinating stuff happening on the computer side of things. It would appear many manufacturers have focused hard on very powerful desktop replacements or almost so. MSI and Asus have been offering dual GPU solutions and with Asus now creating a rather pricey and not-so-oddly curved screen 21 inch notebook combined with Apple's and Microsoft's efforts there seems to be a newer focus in off the shelf and ready to go systems. Razer is demonstrating a triple screen laptop even that would be very attractive to some working professionals. On one side, many of these systems are enough. On another, I am desperately seeking more because we can indeed do more and some folks need it. In some ways kudos to Apple for adopting USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 in a big way. I am appalled that we haven't seen a PC manufacturer with as many future-minded ports as of yet. But I'm also a bit grumpy about the general top of the tank hardware options from many companies. For multitaskers and power workers 32GB of RAM isn't enough, that needs to be looked at. It is indeed "fine" for the many however. Also, on board storage, should be looked at harder in terms of options and expansion. We'll be getting there I hope. PCIe is about undergo some bigger changes in the next couple of years. As is data storage in terms of size, capacity, and connection speed of solid state media and spinning disks. I say much of this as somebody who spends a good deal of time traveling and working abroad. Power users don't make up a large part of the market any longer, but there's a good chunk of us who love what's going on, but wants a little more of what's good about "the now" technology.

    Overall, this is a good year to be a motion picture professional that cares about their images. I've been working in 4K for a long time and this year made the move to shooting and finishing 8K even. A lot is on my mind on how we can enjoy shooting and working on our footage as well as getting our content to viewers to experience a very pleasing way. In that regard, 2017 is going to be fantastic.

    (shot of introspective me working on 8K footage in 2016 in a hotel room in Dubai which may or may not be related to all of this ramblin')
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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