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June 27, 2011 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Camera shoots 1080p HDR video at 30 FPS. By using multiple sensors behind a single lens, it has a 17.5 stop range and can record and process HDR video in real time. [via]
posted by quin (88 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Does it come with a nine inch icepick sticking out of the viewfinder?
posted by lazenby at 7:48 AM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, they managed to make that look pretty ugly.
posted by koeselitz at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I set out viewed both of these videos with an open mind. I can see where something like this could be useful. Then they showed the result videos, and all I can say is oh dear god please make it stop.

This heinous "HDR" nightmare needs to end.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh my christ that looks so bad
posted by echo target at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm ... uh ...

Going into this, my assumption was that this was going to be pure ad copy / spectacle. Coming out of it, I am wondering who the hell OK'd that for public consumption, because the video looks terrible.
posted by tocts at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2011


Am I getting more crotchety and intolerant or are more out-and-out ads showing up on MeFi daily?
posted by DU at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


hahahaha
posted by nathancaswell at 7:58 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Am I getting more crotchety and intolerant?

How would we tell?

I kid, I kid.
posted by OmieWise at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Who are you going to believe -- the 1080p HDR video camera, or your lying eyes?
posted by hermitosis at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


So this fancy video camera basically creates washed out video that looks like it's had a few Photoshop filters applied?

Neat. I'll take a dozen.
posted by menschlich at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This camera offers the possibilty of taking pictures where nothing is ever over- or under-exposed.

The "HDR" filters/processing you need to make such images viewable on our monitors make things very ugly. This process is called tonemapping.

Your complaints about aesthetics are about the failures of tonemapping, not the fact that the camera can see an incredible range of brightness.
posted by fake at 8:01 AM on June 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is like finding a clogged toilet in a plumber's house.
posted by swift at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


> Am I getting more crotchety and intolerant or are more out-and-out ads showing up on MeFi daily?

Probably the former. It's not like most readers will be able to afford this. I'm pretty sure quin was just sharing the fact that a full HD video HDR camera is now in operation.

And damn is that ugly.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2011


If it doesn't give full exposure information to a content editor for selective exposure, this not useful. They might as well be making a camera that puts a large-radius unsharpen mask on everything, and then reduces the contrast to spite you.
posted by hanoixan at 8:02 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


HDR video is a platonic manifestation of "just because you can doesn't mean you should", thirty times a second.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:06 AM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


fake: “This camera offers the possibilty of taking pictures where nothing is ever over- or under-exposed... Your complaints about aesthetics are about the failures of tonemapping, not the fact that the camera can see an incredible range of brightness.”

Yeah, and the Empire State Building "offers the possibility" of taking an elevator all the way into deep space. Look, "offers the possibility" is fancy ad-speak for "gee, I hope this product does what it seems to promise it will do." From where I'm sitting, though, they haven't shown that the thing offers any control whatsoever, they've only shown that it offers at least two or three settings, all of which look unnatural and bizarre. So I don't really know that we've seen anything fantastic; it might be that this is snake oil, frankly.
posted by koeselitz at 8:06 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


The video raised many questions (none of them with question marks).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tried to keep the post as editorial free as I could, in deference to the black dog on the white background (always a difficult shot) and the kind of neat hot metal thing they had going on, but yeah, I figured between the fact that it's going to be expensive beyond words and mostly unavailable to the public that it wouldn't come across as an ad, and that despite what they were doing with it (e.g. the ridiculous visible glow around most things) that the underlying tech was pretty cool.
posted by quin at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2011


HDR should be used so sparingly that I don't notice.
If I can tell you are using HDR, you shouldn't be using HDR.

It's kind of like foley in the audio world. If I notice it's foley, you're doing it wrong.
posted by chillmost at 8:08 AM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


The cutting torch clip was a good demonstration, because it's nearly impossible to get that kind of detail otherwise, and it would make for a great training video. The rest of the clips where the tonemapping jacked up the contrast to the point where everything had halos were not.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:10 AM on June 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sure it's ugly but it's managing to capture what would otherwise be over or underexposed. The military/surveillance applications are pretty obvious - no more stuff getting washed out by the sun or people hiding in shadows on bright days.
posted by exhilaration at 8:11 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about this stuff. Was this inherently bad because there were only 3 exposures combined or was it just that they were trying to show off the possibilities and just pushed the settings too far?
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2011


It's kind of like foley in the audio world. If I notice it's foley, you're doing it wrong.

Notable exception: Wilhelm scream.
posted by explosion at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Your complaints about aesthetics are about the failures of tonemapping, not the fact that the camera can see an incredible range of brightness

True enough, but until we have video screens that are as bright as the sun, tonemapping remains an integral part of the HDR viewing process, and misuse of it is practically a selling point.

Ansel Adams tried for years to perfect the "zone system" for correctly exposing (If I recall correctly) 9 levels of luminance, randing from "almost pitch black" to something like "direct sunlight on chalk." To expand that to 17 levels would almost by necessity produce undesirable results. Heck, our own eyes can't even accomplish it.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:13 AM on June 27, 2011


The problem when trying to promote a product like this that can record detail in a variety of settings, showing it work subtly doesn't flaunt the product for most viewers. Like chillmost wrote, if you notice it, you're doing it wrong. But how do you sell something that no one notices? "Oh, that? It's an over-priced camera. Nice video of the black dog on snow, by the way."
posted by filthy light thief at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2011


It's washed out with low contrast, with no solid whites or blacks. It's less impressive for making me want to adjust the video so I can actually see the captured detail.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2011


Now all we need are HDR monitors. HDR monitors that can also correctly display non-HDR content. Oh, and they have to be big as hell.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:17 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh wow.

This technology, in the hands of actual talent, would be very cool for hard-to-film lighting conditions.

Right now, it's distasteful in the extreme.
posted by flippant at 8:17 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems like a neat idea, but I'm generally against tools that let people make bad decisions thirty times a second.
posted by mhoye at 8:17 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems like this project was the kind of thing that was an interesting problem-solving exercise for the engineers/design team; they're trying a novel approach to "fix" the "problem" of shooting HDR in real-time.

That's not a problem that really bothers me, though. If I'm watching, say, "Wings of Desire", I'm not sitting there wishing it was in HDR, nor do I think I'm gonna be excited about Transformers 6 if they use this camera.

To compare it to the audio world - there's a lot of effort right now in trying to make gear that sounds as good as analog stuff, with the flexibility of digital. That's the direction I'd like to see camera manufacturers take as well - I don't care about LCD viewfinders or touchscreens, make a digital camera that takes photos with the quality of film!
posted by dubold at 8:17 AM on June 27, 2011


The problem here is the problem that most HDR still photos have - no black. The darkest think in the frame is washed out, 75% ink. It's the first step of basic photo correction - set a black point - that everyone seems to have forgotten (I'm looking at you, Tom Till), and it looks terrible. Without a black point, we automatically translate the whole thing as "washed out".
posted by notsnot at 8:17 AM on June 27, 2011


This is the look you see directly after getting beaned by a sharp corner of something and there's that metallic taste in your mouth as you fall to the curb.
posted by hal9k at 8:18 AM on June 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seems like a neat idea, but I'm generally against tools that let people make bad decisions thirty times a second.

why do you hate the internet?
posted by dubold at 8:18 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's kind of like foley in the audio world. If I notice it's foley, you're doing it wrong.

Notable exception: Wilhelm scream.


Also, punching someone should sound as ridiculous as possible.
posted by IjonTichy at 8:20 AM on June 27, 2011


AMP: Now your muddy/grimy/artificial-looking photos move!
posted by me3dia at 8:21 AM on June 27, 2011


make a digital camera that takes photos with the quality of film!

Ok.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:21 AM on June 27, 2011


It seems like this project was the kind of thing that was an interesting problem-solving exercise for the engineers/design team; they're trying a novel approach to "fix" the "problem" of shooting HDR in real-time.

Yeah. And it's worth thinking of this as that: an academic project, not Canon or Sony going on a marketing push for a new camcorder. The video has all the hallmarks of folks trying to proof a concept, with a little bit of bad electronic music and title production layered on top to establish that no one on the team is as good at video production as they are at engineering.

Good HDR video capture is a great idea specifically for its utility in tough lighting environments. Whether you really need to process a shoot in real time is an iffy question, but having the ability to at least sanity check your range of levels in real time is probably a great way to not completely waste a shoot on some bad assumptions, even if someone doing this right is going to do most of their exposure and tone-mapping work after the fact in front of a workstation.

Shitty tonemapping of wide dynamic range source material belies the awesomeness of having wide dynamic range in the source material. Anybody can make something bad out of good ingredients, anybody can set the knobs up stupid on a good guitar amp, and anybody can waste HDR raw footage on terrible tone-mapping. It'd be nice if these folks had made videos that did a better job of showing off the good rather than the bad, but c'est la vie.

Seems like a neat idea, but I'm generally against tools that let people make bad decisions thirty times a second.

Oh man, you are gonna hate this "human brain" thing that's going around.
posted by cortex at 8:49 AM on June 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Haven't even looked at it and I know I'm going to hate.
posted by photoslob at 8:51 AM on June 27, 2011


Everyone here referring to the ugliness of "HDR" needs to google "tone mapping" before commenting. The thing you are objecting to isn't the HDR image (which means "high dynamic range") it's the tone mapping required to show a high dynamic range image (which this camera captures) on a low dynamic range device like your monitor.

Because your monitor can only display a very limited range of brightnesses it's not capable of displaying very bright images.Tone-mapping is a technique that can be used to show images with a wider dynamic range (brighter brights and darker darks) than your display device can show. There are a lot of techniques, but generally they rely on "local contrast" - your eye can only concentrate on one part of the image at once, basically you can gradually adjust the brightness across the image and the eye won't really notice what's happening. At the extreme these techniques produce the ugly halos and weird noisy migraine inducing images you associate with HDR photography, but it's important to know that tone mapping is not the same as capturing with high dynamic range.

Traditional image capture devices (film and digital cameras) also can't actually capture a very large dynamic range. The "exposure" setting on a normal camera is basically a way of controlling which "slice" of the brightness of the image you want to be able to see - ie.. whether you want to see the light areas or the dark areas properly.

This camera captures images with far more picture information than a normal camera. It captures the very brightest parts of the image *and* the darkest - that's pretty fantastic. The resulting image simply has more flexibility and information than a normal image - it doesn't necessarily look any different - certainly not "uglier". You don't *need* to tonemap the images in the way they have if you don't want to. Another, I suspect more useful, way to work would be to capture a huge dynamic range image with this camera and then decide on the exposure of your image after the fact. That would mean you could just shoot videos of your kids without thinking about exposure, and then when you were looking at them later you could adjust the exposure to see either the bright bits of the image or the dark bits - or tone-map it a bit to extend the range of brightness you could display. A camera like this would also be incredibly useful in a lot of visual effects situations.

having said that, I have my doubts about this camera - they are splitting the incoming light into three for a start, so I suspect that it's only really going to be useful in very brightly lit situations.
posted by silence at 8:59 AM on June 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hype where hype has gone before.
posted by rmmcclay at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2011


Yeah. There's got to be a sensible middle ground that accurately captures the tonal range of normal human vision.

I'd settle for a digital sensor that had a tonal range roughly equivalent to that of Kodachrome. We've been making strides in this area in recent years, but tonal range still remains the primary weakness of digital photography.

Last week, I saw Submarine, and absolutely loved the fact that it was unabashedly produced on film (rather than video), and even appeared to have been edited "the old fashioned way." Although this was likely a stylistic choice (and possibly even faked), it accompanied the atmosphere of the film perfectly. The tones were warm, and there was something fantastic about seeing actual film grain. Everything seemed natural, relaxed, and casual -- some of the cuts were outright sloppy, which actually seemed endearing, given the current tendency for directors to frame fuck every single edit. Everything was not perfectly lit, which was fine, because you could see details within the shadows. And, holy crap. I'd be remiss not to mention that the guy who plays Maurice on The IT Crowd made one hell of a dark film. Wasn't expecting that at all.

Ironically, Super 8 was shot on crystal-clear IMAX film, with each shot meticulously lit and color-corrected. Spielberg evidently doesn't understand irony. Low-fi can be great, and even offer more detail and atmosphere when used correctly.
posted by schmod at 9:42 AM on June 27, 2011


Oh, and artistic uses aside, this has plenty of applications for security cameras, and other computational or scientific applications where visual clarity trumps how "nice" the image needs to look.
posted by schmod at 9:43 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shitty tonemapping of wide dynamic range source material belies the awesomeness of having wide dynamic range in the source material.

This exactly. The demo video states that the RAW output from all three simultaneous exposures is available. Tone mapping happens after the shooting, not inside the camera.

A film maker could shoot a continuous walk from bright sunlight outdoors into a candlelit room and post-process it to look perfectly normal, no HDR output required.

This is what the technology is going to be great for - not actually outputting HDR video.
posted by odinsdream at 9:44 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and artistic uses aside, this has plenty of applications for security cameras, and other computational or scientific applications where visual clarity trumps how "nice" the image needs to look.

Yes - the torch demo is perfect for this - look at how you can see the glob formation and surface details, even as things cool off. I'd love to see a video of glassblowing shot with this camera, even though it wouldn't match reality.
posted by odinsdream at 9:46 AM on June 27, 2011


Quick, someone set up two of these in a stereoscopic 3d configuration, and get it to Zach "Hey guys, have you heard of ramping?" Snyder.
posted by mrgoat at 9:46 AM on June 27, 2011


This exactly. The demo video states that the RAW output from all three simultaneous exposures is available. Tone mapping happens after the shooting, not inside the camera.

Well, if I followed the demo correctly I think it's more that the tone-mapping is an additional, non-destructive step that is in fact done in the camera in basically real time—so you've got the three raw exposure streams as well as a tone-mapped stream.
posted by cortex at 9:51 AM on June 27, 2011


Tone mapping is the process of mapping out of range light to a smaller range. It does not require that your image look like unnatural when finished, that is an aesthetic choice made by the person doing it. Please don't confuse the process with the choices made by the people using it.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know if this is kosher, but I am going to quickly link to 3 pics I recently took a fair amount of time giving 3 distinct looks off practically identical source images (whose combined DR is roughly 17 stops, like the camcorder in the post)

One - This is a VERY heavily tonemapped picture

Two - This is still quite processed, but the tones have been warmed to negate the HDR look

Three - This is as natural as I could get

The big thing here is that all the detail in the ceiling, walls, and stained glass was blown away without HDR. This is probably one of the most beautiful places in Seattle (UW Reading room) and unless you have 15 strobes and a small crew of lighting people it is almost impossible to shoot in the daytime. HDR serves a purpose and shouldn't be shat upon because people misuse it!
posted by lattiboy at 9:56 AM on June 27, 2011 [7 favorites]



Well, if I followed the demo correctly I think it's more that the tone-mapping is an additional, non-destructive step that is in fact done in the camera in basically real timeā€”so you've got the three raw exposure streams as well as a tone-mapped stream.


I suppose that's correct - like shooting RAW+JPEG.
posted by odinsdream at 10:01 AM on June 27, 2011


This isn't to film "Good Morning America!" in-studio or the next installment of the Cremaster Cycle. This is to dramatically improve machine vision, telepresence, video surveillance and news photography. There is no other tool on the market that can come anywhere near this thing for those applications. Nothing. This is truly revolutionary.

Yes, it's output is not as pretty as RED's latest pocket-sized wonder, but it's not meant to fill the same role.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:09 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who designed that shot of water spraying over a tray of brightly colored balls, Wilson Bryan Key?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:18 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a fantastic development. You guys would probably be critical of Edison's reading of Mary Had A little Lamb. If it captures three streams of RAW imagery to be processed later, the artistic and technical possibilities are vast.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't understand why anyone would be bothered in the slightest way about this. Does it run on Unicorn blood or something?
posted by zephyr_words at 10:21 AM on June 27, 2011


Yes, it's output is not as pretty as RED's latest pocket-sized wonder

Give me the three RAW streams, and I'll give you a much better image than RED can capture.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:22 AM on June 27, 2011


I think you must have misunderstood me, koeselitz.

There was no "fancy ad-speak" in my comment. HDR cameras (there are several) capture a wider range of luminance than ordinary cameras. That is why we call them "HDR". I used prototype HDR cameras at my last job. I also hacked on the only production HDR display ever made, the Brightside DR-37p, as a part of my grad studies. Perhaps more than most, I know the limitations of HDR capture and display pretty intimately.

The camera outputs raw video data. So do most other HDR cameras on the market. That is because they are useless without a raw output stream. Raw output allows the user to make all kinds of choices about all that data, like how it should look (if someone is viewing it) or what that luminous intensity means (if it is being used for photographic instrumentation).

Other people in the thread have done a good job explaining what different parts of this demo mean (like the welding shot). Maybe all this is a little too inside-baseball for you, and it is pretty clear that the camera makers didn't do the best job of communicating how impressive their CAPTURE is to a lay audience. But that doesn't mean that your negative assessment of the video reflects anything other than your misunderstanding the technology.

Generally, I thnk it would do for people to remember that cameras are used for a lot more than making TV and movies. For example, I recently worked on a project to capture the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor. There is no ordinary camera that can properly expose the intense flames from the SRBs and the Shuttle itself. Cameras like this one can do that, no problem.
posted by fake at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Forest and trees ...

fake, cortex and silence have it right - what's important here is that the camera captures the entire dynamic range of the scene; it's unfortunate, then, that so much of the tonemapping that was applied to this demo video resulted in such ugly and unnatural-looking images, because that's what you actually see, so it's understandable that most people in this thread have latched on to it.

So this fancy video camera basically creates washed out video that looks like it's had a few Photoshop filters applied?

Neat. I'll take a dozen.
posted by menschlich at 8:01 AM on June 27 [+] [!
]

No, it was the people who did the tonemapping in post that created the washed-out video.

The problem here is the problem that most HDR still photos have - no black. The darkest think in the frame is washed out, 75% ink. It's the first step of basic photo correction - set a black point - that everyone seems to have forgotten (I'm looking at you, Tom Till), and it looks terrible. Without a black point, we automatically translate the whole thing as "washed out".
posted by notsnot at 8:17 AM on June 27 [+] [!]


Agreed, and again, operator error, not axiomatic of HDR & tonemapping in general.

Etc, etc.
posted by kcds at 10:30 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently, the H in HDR stands for Hideous.
posted by tommasz at 10:46 AM on June 27, 2011


This is a little late I guess given the level of HDR hate so far, but the second link explains the how and more importantly the why much better than the first link. If you only watched the first link, watch the second one.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:49 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Used carefully, it'd sure give one a chance to do some nice color grading although the mapping halation/glow around stuff would need to be dealt with in camera.
posted by bz at 11:03 AM on June 27, 2011


You know the look of those old B+W films that Ted Turner colorized? This is worse than that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:28 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Attention pedants & etc:
We all know what HDR is and what Tonemapping is. But, just like with many things, people don't call the output of this crap "Tonemapped photos", it is collectively called "HDR." Just like how when you break your arm, you'll see the doctor looking at an "X-Ray" and not a "radiogram."
Note in my first comment above that I put "HDR" in quotes.

We also all get that there exists a tiny use case where "HDR" is applicable, and the resultant photographs and now video look "just like real life." So all you photographers out there desperate to accurately capture the inside of a dim cathedral while also wanting to see what is outside past the windows can rejoice over now being able to shoot FMV of this particular scene.

At any rate, my personal opinion is that if you have to explain what and exactly how you did something in order for the end result to be interesting ("Look guys! I MADED AN HDR"), then you're doing it wrong. There are presumably billions of perfectly just fine photographs out there, and probably hundreds of millions of truly amazing photographs hanging on the walls of galleries and homes where none of this needed to be done. Complaining that modern cameras don't have enough dynamic range is like complaining that the 12 semitone chromatic scale is too limiting to write music within.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:29 AM on June 27, 2011


There are presumably billions of perfectly just fine photographs out there, and probably hundreds of millions of truly amazing photographs hanging on the walls of galleries and homes where none of this needed to be done. Complaining that modern cameras don't have enough dynamic range is like complaining that the 12 semitone chromatic scale is too limiting to write music within.


Very reminiscent of the arguments of B&W vs. Color in photography and film. Just as pointless... actually, you've got less of a point.

To put it in Ansel Adams terms, this tool allows the photographer to better represent the scene as he or she envisioned it. The Zone system is entirely about manipulating range for visual effect - this is a tool that does exactly that.

There remain some technical hurdles to efficient use of the technology, but you better believe Adams would be all over that action - he spent considerable time in the darkroom experimenting to perfect his technique, to get the results he required as an artist. Should he have abandoned his efforts, and just stuck with "F8 and Be There", as there were countless other photographs where the photographer clearly didn't give a rat's ass about contrast or acceptable shadow detail? No, that's absurd.

Artists and software/hardware developers will be working with tone-mapping systems to get the most out of this, absolutely. It's a matter of when, not if.

I mean, you saw a video of a welding torch cutting through steel, and could see the whole action, including the work material and background! If that didn't knock you over, you don't know enough about photography/videography and the state of the art. Sorry, you just don't.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:50 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think of HDR as being the digital photography equivalent to the 'Loudness war' in digital music. There will be (a few) places where it does add something but lots of people will overuse it to horrible effect.
posted by Lanark at 12:07 PM on June 27, 2011


If that didn't knock you over, you don't know enough about photography/videography and the state of the art. Sorry, you just don't.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:16 PM on June 27, 2011


I mean, you saw a video of a welding torch cutting through steel, and could see the whole action, including the work material and background! If that didn't knock you over, you don't know enough about photography/videography and the state of the art.

That portion of the video was the only part that was at all impressive.

I want to stress this: I am not saying the technology underlying this is useless. I am, however, saying that everything else done in the video was a really shitty example of what the technology could be used for. If HDR photography is any indicator, it is also sadly an example of what 95% of the use of this technology will end up looking like.

Like many advancements, this is a tool that could be used to good purpose, but it's going to largely be used by people who lack the skill or critical eye to make it not suck. That the very people making the technology and trying to promote it do such a bad job of using it effectively does not bode well.
posted by tocts at 12:19 PM on June 27, 2011


This reminds me of this: Photographer's Life in Graph

The HDR Hole is real. And it's coming for Video.
posted by DigDoug at 12:23 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The segment where a thick steel plate is cut as molten metal goes everywhere certainly is amazing for coming close to how that must look if you were standing there watching it yourself. All the details are definitely amazing to see, really. You could show it to people like hedge fund managers who wouldn't see the process in person, but they wouldn't be interested in watching it so don't buy one of these cameras just for that reason.

So many of these little clips are just so strange and wrong looking, but if the process gets cheap enough I would not be surprised if we see a lot of this for a while.
posted by longsleeves at 12:33 PM on June 27, 2011


HDR: the auto-tune of imaging.
posted by brain_drain at 12:39 PM on June 27, 2011


The segment where a thick steel plate is cut as molten metal goes everywhere certainly is amazing for coming close to how that must look if you were standing there watching it yourself.

Except it doesn't look that way if you were standing there yourself. Have you ever watched welding? Your eyes need to be shaded, it is like looking at the sun.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:43 PM on June 27, 2011


it's going to largely be used by people who lack the skill or critical eye to make it not suck

I see you're new here. Let me guide you down the Hall of Overambitious Amateur Shame, where you will see such exhibits as:

Fish-eyes
Extreme wide-angle portraiture
Hand-coloring
Lomography
Tilt-shift lenses
Steadicam
Zoom lenses
Extreme telephoto
Extreme macro
Automated fill-flash
Street Photography
Zone system
Cross-processing
IR
Slow-motion
Hyper-saturated chromes
"Hot lights"
Shooting "RAW"
Unsharp masking
Shake reduction
"Morphing" software
Clever fades
Insert-new-tech-here.

Almost all of which turn into indispensable tools with some practice and talent.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:51 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you also Scott Adams?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:04 PM on June 27, 2011


Wow, an ad-hominem and a wiki link to a logical fallacy. I can really see your point, now.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:16 PM on June 27, 2011


I see you're new here.

By what metric?

Almost all of which turn into indispensable tools with some practice and talent.

I have personally yet to see HDR used in a way that is particularly compelling, even in still photography. The underlying desire -- to get more dynamic range -- I completely understand. But, every time I see it used, it's cringe-worthy crap that looks like someone is taking cues from Thomas Kinkade.

I'd also argue that many of the things you mention, while useful tools, are nonetheless used very poorly 95% of the time. Fisheyes, lomo, IR, tilt-shift lenses, etc, are good, impressive tools, yes. They're still used terribly in most circumstances. HDR is the same way -- I'm sure there are some good examples out there, but mostly it gets abused terribly.

Anyways, my argument is not that this technology doesn't have promise. My argument is that this is a terrible demo video if the goal is to show off that promise. Everything but the welding is pretty much crap, and even the welding, as pointed out, is not any more "realistic" than otherwise normal HD video of welding would be. It's more interesting, yes, because it allows us to see things the human eye cannot see even with protective eyewear. But, it's not any more realistic.

Wow, an ad-hominem and a wiki link to a logical fallacy.

Regardless of the merit of a quote-link to Wikipedia as method of voicing disagreement, you should perhaps look up the definition of ad hominem before accusing people of it when they are doing nothing of the sort.
posted by tocts at 1:44 PM on June 27, 2011


I'd also argue that many of the things you mention, while useful tools, are nonetheless used very poorly 95% of the time.

All tools, ever, anywhere, are used very poorly most of the time, at least until they've been around so long that common best practice has become an unspoken part of tool use. Most people don't even write very well, and we've been natural language-users back into prehistory.

It's a lousy demo video. It's interesting, useful technology. Basically every interesting, useful technology starts with lousy demos. Arguing about whether or not the demo in this case is lousy is kind of silly when basically no one seems to think otherwise.
posted by cortex at 1:51 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


HDR haters/skeptics may prefer this other video illustrating how HDR can be used for video in a way that doesn't call a lot of attention to itself.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:13 PM on June 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not understanding the haterade here. Yes, it's not the greatest of demos (I was cringing the entire way through), but these people are computer scientists, not videographers (is that a real word?) or advertisers. If anybody here feels like they could be a better spokesperson for this technology, maybe they should contact the video creators and offer some help.

I don't know much about HDR technology, but I am very interested in it -- the gamut of the average monitor is just so small when compared to the full range of luminances available in the real world. I was quite impressed by the welding one -- any amateur photographer who has tried to take a photo of something like that knows getting the level of background detail demonstrated in the video is extremely freakingly hard, if not impossible, without HDR.

Kind of a tangent, but, consider the following: the luminance range available in the natural world is something like 1 000 000:1, largely due to the amazing illumination provided by the sun; by comparison, the luminance range available in any painted or printed medium is only 30:1. So, how is it that photorealism is possible at all? How can paint, whose gamut covers only .00 003 of the full gamut of the natural world depict so much?

It's, like, the human visual system has a built-in tonemapping system that takes the 1 000 000:1 range and compresses it to some reasonable set of luminances that we then perceive. The job of the artist, then, is to take these percepts and then map them again, but this time to the 30:1 range available in paint. It's incredible.
posted by tickingclock at 5:01 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: I remember talking to some Brightside guys back when they were in business. They used to boast about having to artificially cap the upper limit of their HDR displays, because they reached luminances nearing the luminance of the sun -- and there were concerns about damaging users' eyes. Cool stuff.
posted by tickingclock at 5:07 PM on June 27, 2011


There are presumably billions of perfectly just fine photographs out there, and probably hundreds of millions of truly amazing photographs hanging on the walls of galleries and homes where none of this needed to be done. Complaining that modern cameras don't have enough dynamic range is like complaining that the 12 semitone chromatic scale is too limiting to write music within.

Um, people have made exactly that complaint, and some great music came out of it. Art would be unthinkably boring if it were just a bunch of people with your attitude sitting around and looking at their tools and saying to each other, "I think what we've got here is good enough, don't you?"

Also, the thrust of your open letter to the "pedants" is wrong. It's pretty evident that menschlich and koeselitz, for example, were arguing from positions of relative ignorance. I don't mean offense by that, but it's what it looks like from where I'm sitting.
posted by invitapriore at 5:27 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


tickingclock: "Also: I remember talking to some Brightside guys back when they were in business. They used to boast about having to artificially cap the upper limit of their HDR displays, because they reached luminances nearing the luminance of the sun -- and there were concerns about damaging users' eyes. Cool stuff"

Holy crap. Tell us more about this company, because what I've read so far (a short review and then finding a $2,000 listing on eBay) has me incredibly intrigued, especially as to why they've gone out of business without leaving any mark on the industry.
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:10 AM on June 28, 2011


I can't get to the SIGGRAPH paper PDF, but I have some guesses about what this is.

Three-chip cameras, that have the highest color fidelity, use three video imagers, one for each of red, green, and blue. They do this by having the three imaging chips configured in a beam-splitting prism assembly. They are mechanically aligned so that the incoming light is reflected partially in several directions, aimed at the three image chips.

One-chip cameras do not need the beam-splitting prism assembly, the chip sits directly behind the lens, where the film would be. The one-chip image sensor has a fine grid of colored dots printed directly onto the image sensor, and a computer needs to combine the sprinkled colors into smooth color shading.

If three one-chip color sensors were put into the optical assembly used in three-chip cameras, you'd have a trade-off, because the red, green, blue three-chip configuration will have better fine detail and color fidelity, but the three one-chip sensors set to different sensitives provides some novel conditions for improving the image quality.

It's really a fascinating trade-off, I'll bet that there could be unique noise reduction and sharpening possibilities out of this.

The one-chip cameras all rely on RAW developing software to make a smooth output image, so that's as integral as the HDR software to this process. The Raw developers are pretty good at integrating the color-sprayed image sensors, nowadays.

As mentioned above, these demos can be rough by certain metrics. But this seems to be an opportunity for creative artistic and technical innovation.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:17 AM on June 28, 2011


"...They used to boast about having to artificially cap the upper limit of their HDR displays, because they reached luminances nearing the luminance of the sun

Disney Imagineering did an internal daylight film projection demo, at the beach. A screen was set up on a cloudless day, and a movie was projected bright enough to be clearly visible. When the clip finished, they topped it off by jacking the brightness until the screen caught on fire.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:23 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can see the configuration in the second video. It's three sensors behind two beam splitters, that send 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8 * of the light to the sensors. The path to the third sensor goes through the first beam splitter twice, from two different directions. The remaining 1/8 gets dumped back out the lens. It's ingenious.

This is really something you can judge purely from the (terrible) video, unless you know what you're looking at. It's going to enable all sorts of cool things though.

*I'm guessing, the actual fractions will depend on the splitters, but I'm assuming half each way.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:41 AM on June 28, 2011


s/is/isn't/ gaaaaah!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:46 AM on June 28, 2011


Complaining that modern cameras don't have enough dynamic range is like complaining that the 12 semitone chromatic scale is too limiting to write music within.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:29 AM on June 27 [+] [!]

Your analogy doesn't work, because HDR is not about further subdividing an existing range, it's about expanding the range. In musical terms, it would be like complaining that one octave of the chromatic scale is too limiting to write music within. Or that all the notes have to be very close in volume (or dynamic range) to one another.

What you're seeing here, I think, is like instruments suddenly becoming available that can make sounds over many octaves, or over a huge dynamic range, that didn't exist before. It would likely result in a number of aggressively unlistenable pieces of experimental music before composers figured out how to use the range available to them to create a Bach fugue or [INSERT YR. FAVE MUSIC HERE].
posted by kcds at 4:17 AM on June 28, 2011


Attention pedants & etc

*twitch*
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 4:54 AM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy crap. Tell us more about this company, because what I've read so far (a short review and then finding a $2,000 listing on eBay) has me incredibly intrigued, especially as to why they've gone out of business without leaving any mark on the industry.

DoctorFedora, I wish I knew, but I've lost touch with the people I used to know in Brightside. They were bought by Dolby at one point, and then... I have no idea. I've myself only recently heard that they went out of business, which I thought was really too bad!
posted by tickingclock at 5:16 PM on June 28, 2011


Video reminded me of Crystal Pepsi ads.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:31 PM on June 28, 2011


Here's the SIGGRAPH technical paper.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:28 PM on July 2, 2011


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