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Testing on-screen resolution and frame rate tests

October 21, 2014
With Loren Nielsen moderating, Deluxe's Stephen Ferguson and cinematographer Dave Stump, ASC led a session that gave the audience a chance to take a close-up look at high resolution and high frame rates images with specifically created test materials. The material is MOS and audience members were encouraged to comment aloud on what they see. First, Ferguson focused on high-resolution images with different parameters. He described the process of what was projected in 4K. "The Sony clips came in at Rec 709," he says. "For this display, they were encoded in HEVC, with a LUT applied." The 4K clips, at various bit rates, were from Blacklist, shot with the Sony F55 and from Masters of Sex, shot with the F65. "The lower the bit rate, the cleaner it becomes, because it's filtering out the noise," says Ferguson, who reports that "at lower bit rates" the grain turns into blocking. "The 2K version starts to look softer and rougher," says Nielsen. In response to a question from Nielsen, the audience nodded they could tell the difference between the clips. But could consumers? The answer was a resounding "No" from the assembled group of mainly engineers. Also shown was a 4K and 2K versions -- also at different bit rates -- of the STEM material acquired by the ASC in 2004 to test digital imagery. "We've been doing a lot of comparisons to find out what we'll be learning," says Ferguson. Next, Stump described tests related to high frame rate. "Our creative palette for storytelling is expanding," he says. He talked about the importance of royalty-free tests for HDR, HFR and other parameters.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science Sci-Tech Council created a committee to agree on best practices for generating test material; the actual shoot took place at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Center. Directed by Howard Lukk and staffed by motion picture experts, the material used two Sony F65s and the ARRI Alexa Studio XT to compose one scene. The idea was to purposefully test the limits of motion judder and artifacts, reflective surfaces, lots of colors and a mix of indoor and outdoor lighting. All test parameters were contained in a single shot, using each camera for the sequence.  "We captured uncompressed digital data at the highest quality Raw format," says Stump. "Cameras were on the same motion control rig to maintain consistency for comparison." The material showed 24 fps, 48 fps, 60 fps and 120 fps. Stump notes that AMPAS will announce when the material will be available to license for future testing.


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