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SME 2018: Technicolor-Postworks Colorist Anthony Raffaele Talks 4K and HDR
Streaming Media Contributing Editor Tim Siglin interviews Technicolor-Postworks' Anthony Raffaele following his keynote at at Streaming Media East 2018

Learn more about 4K and HDR streaming at Streaming Media's next event.

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to the second day of Streaming Media East 2018. I'm Tim Siglin, contributing editor with Streaming Media and the founder executive director of the not-for-profit HelpMeStream. Today, I've got with me Anthony Raffaele from Technicolor-Postworks. You were on a keynote panel this morning that was really well received. Tell us a little bit about what the panel was about.

Anthony Raffaele: It was, basically, sponsored by Netflix and it was discussing 4K and HDR in the streaming environment and just, as an overall in the creative process at this point. Where it's heading and the pitfalls and the creative excitement behind it and all its different aspects.

Tim Siglin: I've done some research recently for a couple companies in the industry. We've asked experts in the industry do they own a 4K streaming device, and the answer is overwhelmingly yes. Then you ask them how much of your content do you consume in 4K and the answer is underwhelmingly around 10%. So, shooting in 4K or 8K, on a RED, creating the 4K content, where does Netflix see as sort of at the current state right now, in terms of people consuming in 4K?

Anthony Raffaele: As far as the content that we're creating, we're creating, everyone is pretty much mastering at this point. There's a huge amount of mastering to 4K.

Tim Siglin: Okay. It’s future programs.

Anthony Raffaele: And most of the shows I'm working on for Netflix or other providers, they're either pretty much 100% shooting in 4K, and then maybe a small percentage aren't finishing in 4K. Again, they're mastering to 4K, and then delivering something else.

Tim Siglin: In the old days, the rule of thumb was always you shoot at twice the resolution of what you're gonna deliver in. This sort of seems to be a conundrum in the industry right now, in that we've got RED is ostensibly 5 or 6K, but in reality, it's much closer to 4K.

Anthony Raffaele: Yeah.

Tim Siglin: Do we run into post-production issues with the fact that were shooting at the same resolution that we're mastering?

Anthony Raffaele: I would say there are pitfalls to that. Once you start resizing and stuff like that, you're now pushing in on a 4K image. It'll still be 4K, but you're losing some of the resolution field. Some people are shooting larger than 4K. They're shooting 8K so they can master to 4K and have some wiggle room for resizing and stuff like that.

Tim Siglin: And, of course the problem with 8K is there really aren't standards in the industry yet for that.

Anthony Raffaele: No, for shooting in.

Tim Siglin: Is most of what's being shot in 4K being shot at 4:4:4, 10-bit HDR?

Anthony Raffaele: It is 444, usually long capture. You have the HDR ability. I don't know a lot of people who are shooting linearized footage. Again, cause it all comes back to future-proofing and making sure that you have the detail and the fidelity at the end of the day.

Tim Siglin: Precisely. And that's, obviously, the benefit of 4:4:4, as opposed to 4:4:2, especially if you're post production. So, what are some of the trends that you see with the productions that you're working on, in terms of the way that they're delivered to cable or OTT or traditional broadcast? Do you feel like the shift is here, now, toward OTT? Or that we've still got a couple years where were gonna be living on this multi-world?

Anthony Raffaele: I think the adaptation of where we're headed is down the road. Right now, we're just kind of staging ourselves for that spot. The next big shift will be HDR 4K monitors, and that's where, I think, people really see the bang for their buck, when they buy a television that's HDR.

Someone on the panel had mentioned the Best Buy test, where you're looking at monitor and another and you clearly can see that this monitor is better. That's what you'll see as people start to go to the stores and buy new televisions. Then we'll be giving out more content in that.

Tim Siglin: And what about 3D? That was a huge issue a couple years ago at the consumer electronics shows.

Anthony Raffaele: It was very trendy. And it still is. There's still a lot of mastering to 3D. I don't really know a lot of people who are utilizing it.

Tim Siglin: But it's stereoscopic tricks, as opposed to shooting true 3D.

Anthony Raffaele: Yeah. It's not being shot. It's usually being roto’d out somewhere.

Tim Siglin: Interesting. So, I guess the last question is: 1080p HDR as opposed to 4K HDR for delivery.

Anthony Raffaele: It's actually a good one. I've shown people 1080p HDR vs. 4K HDR. Some people don't even necessarily see the difference.

Tim Siglin: Interesting.

Anthony Raffaele: Because HDR is such a huge enhancement, you almost--

Tim Siglin: The colors pop.

Anthony Raffaele: The colors pop, there's more definition in the shadows and highlights.

Tim Siglin: That's a good point.

Anthony Raffaele: So, you're gaining this huge scope of definition, anyway. Even in HD.

Tim Siglin: Got it. And that's something that I've heard the online video platforms say is that they're seeing significant uptick in 1080p high frame rate and HDR because people perceive that as such a quality boost. So, it's interesting. If we're shooting in 4K, mastering in 4K, but delivering in 1080p HDR, it seems that we do sort of get that double the resolution production versus delivery.

Anthony Raffaele: You do, obviously you would want it to be 4K HDR.

Tim Siglin: Yeah. Of course.

Anthony Raffaele: But I would take HDR over 4K SDR.

Tim Siglin: Fair point. Anything else you want to mention before we wrap this up?

Anthony Raffaele: No, no no. Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Tim Siglin: Yeah. Absolutely.

Anthony Raffaele: I thought it was a really great panel. It's a great event.

Tim Siglin: We'll be right back with our next interview.

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