True To The direc­tor’s vi­sion

How the new 4K screens are giv­ing us clearer, sharper images than ever be­fore

Empire (UK) - - PROMOTION - For more in­for­ma­tion visit pana­

Em­pire is sit­ting in a dark­ened room in soho watch­ing the open­ing se­quences of mad max: Fury road and not quite be­liev­ing our eyes. it’s a film we’ve seen and loved be­fore, but not like this. the power of ge­orge Miller’s dystopian im­agery has been trans­formed. You can see ev­ery rip­ple on the sur­face of the tyre and veils of dust hov­er­ing in the air. sun­light bounces off a me­tal­lic sur­face with al­most blind­ing in­ten­sity. As Fu­riosa climbs into the War Rig, all the di­als on the dash­board are com­pletely leg­i­ble.

the screen in ques­tion is Pana­sonic’s 65” 4K HDR DX902 tele­vi­sion, their flag­ship screen for 2016, and a thing of beauty. Con­nected to a UB900 Ul­tra HD Blu-ray player, in which the 4K disc of

Fury Road spins, the re­sults are frankly peer­less. This is a new screen tech­nol­ogy aimed specif­i­cally at film lovers.

“You are in­stantly ab­sorbed in the images,” en­thuses Dado Valen­tic, the award-win­ning colour grad­ing artist who worked with Vanja Cern­jul on Pana­sonic’s short movie Con­verg­ing

Beams, the ba­sis of the ad you may have seen at the cin­ema or on TV. “It is not sim­ply about sharp­en­ing the im­age, it’s about a higher emo­tional con­nec­tion.”

Grad­ing isn’t a tech­ni­cal process — it is an art. Scene by scene, shot by shot, ex­perts like Valen­tic man­u­ally pick which colours to boost or where to deepen the con­trast. They are like ar­chae­ol­o­gists of light, dis­cov­er­ing de­tails you never knew were there. The goal is com­plete im­mer­sion. To make what we see on a tele­vi­sion ex­actly what Ge­orge Miller saw when he first looked through his viewfinder.

It has been a rev­o­lu­tion on three lev­els. Firstly, res­o­lu­tion — how many pix­els they have on a screen. The more pix­els you have, the clearer the im­age be­comes. And 4K tele­vi­sions have four times the res­o­lu­tion of HD.

Se­condly, it’s about colour. “We see much more colour with our eyes than tele­vi­sions are able to por­tray,” says Valen­tic. They have vastly ex­tended the range of pos­si­ble colours, push­ing what he calls the “colour gamut”.

Fi­nally, it’s about con­trast. “This is not about at­tain­ing max­i­mum bright­ness,” in­sists Valen­tic, “but how to get a screen to dis­play a dy­namic range of light and dark.” This is where Pana­sonic’s 4K HDR (High Dy­namic Range) tech­nol­ogy comes into its own, creat­ing sparkling high­lights and wells of bot­tom­less black with a dy­namic gra­di­ent be­tween them. Images take on ex­tra­or­di­nary depth with­out 3D.

All the big stu­dios have signed up to re­lease films in 4K. Warner Bros. alone has com­mit­ted to 35 re­leases. Mean­while, Net­flix and Ama­zon are stream­ing all their new pro­duc­tions in 4K, giv­ing it a much wider reach. Older ti­tles will need colour­grad­ing artists like Valen­tic to go back to the orig­i­nal ma­te­rial and cre­ate a new master, so may take more time. Still, there is no doubt Em­pire is wit­ness­ing the fu­ture of home entertainment.

“Noth­ing will ever re­place cin­ema for the ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Valen­tic, “but we are get­ting bet­ter re­sults on tele­vi­sion screens.”

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