When I talked about NAB 2019 last time, it was mostly an overview of what the show looked like to me. I promised I’d give some of my reactions to exhibits as I asked myself, “Where are we going?” For this post, it’s all about the displays.
More and More Pixels
When I was at CES in January, it was hard to avoid 8K, or so it seemed. At NAB, 8K wasn’t to be denied—both on the production end and in displays. For me, 8K is an interesting topic.
NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting organization, has been broadcasting 8K since December of 2018. They’ve had displays featuring 8K at NAB for many years, and each year I make the trek to the North Hall to see it. Though I should say “experience it.” Because, for me, it’s about 8K as a consumer. Do I long for it in my home? How about other people who don’t work in the industry and who aren’t watching critical viewing displays all day long?
With any new display technology, I always try to listen to what other attendees say when they visit the booths. In the 3D era, I heard, “Why would I want to wear glasses just to watch TV?” In the DTV era, it was “Wow, it’s so thin—and expensive!”
One of the NHK 8K exhibits showed a loop of several pieces of content, one of which was a sumo match. As I watched the display, two people next to me commented, “Do we really need to see that much detail on those guys?”
When the other content began there was pretty much silence. Not exactly a scientific survey to be sure, but it was interesting to me. As I walked to other booths showing 8K I didn’t hear anything quite as telling as that. Actually, I didn’t hear much at all.
While I didn’t hear much, I saw a lot of 8K content as I parked myself to watch full loops of exhibitors’ show reels. And, yes, there was the obligatory montage from Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Apparently, if you want to show off a new camera or display, it’s mandatory that you trek down to Brazil.
Aside from quadrupling pixels, how those pixels are used—regardless of quantity—was on display throughout NAB. More so than 8K, HDR (High Dynamic Range) grabbed attendees’ attention.
While many content creators are still trying to understand the various standards and figure out how to deliver content, you can’t deny that HDR consumer displays are being purchased and set up in viewers’ homes.
Reference monitors were in several booths, but unfortunately at prices that make them difficult to swallow. Monitors for HDR on set and in edit are coming down in price, however.
Fortunately, making sure content is displayed correctly—whether HDR or not—is becoming easier and easier. I talked to people at the Portrait Displays booth about their CalMan calibration software, now working with several consumer displays.
While it’s preferable to have reference monitors everywhere viewing is happening, that isn’t always practical. But displays that are calibrated is a step in the right direction.
On the workstation monitor front, BenQ showed several displays that could be easily calibrated. The PV270, for example, is a 27-inch 10-bit display that covers 100% of Rec. 709, 99% of Adobe RGB and 93% of DCI-P3 color spaces. But that won’t mean anything unless the monitor is calibrated. You can calibrate the PV270 with third-party systems or the downloadable BenQ Palette Master software.
While the number of pixels may be changing for better or worse, the ability to make sure those pixels emit the right color from production through post and onto consumer displays is definitely changing for the better.