and FWIW, this calibrator https://www.accucalav.com/about-us/ claims that he "has a Pioneer 151FD plasma of which Universal Pictures has 100 for film production, because of its size and excellent color accuracy".
The interesting thing is that my calibrator told me that Universal and other studios have recently replaced their Kuros with the Sony A8F and A9F. Just rumors??? We'll see.
Regarding the ISF calibration results - which I generally hate - I have come to the following conclusions:
1) Picture is too bright - so turn down the Brightness, see above
2) Colors are too saturated - turn that down, see above
3) They used the Expert1 color temperature, which clearly gives me a yellowish hue. Then, referring to https://www.rtings.com/tv/reviews/sony/a8f/settings they say "We chose 'Expert 1' for the 'Color temperature' as this was closest to our calibration target of 6500K. If you find the color temperature to be too warm (reddish or yellowish) you can set it to a colder temperature.". I have never liked such a cold color temperature on any TV, and the Kuro was much warmer, perhaps using as low as 4000K but can't really be sure. Also, I don't understand why they advise a "colder" temperature if the results are reddish or yellowish, as opposed to "warmer"??!? What am I missing?
4) Looking at the White Balance section of the same link, I noticed that the Advanced Color Settings on their TV - which apply to all inputs - are vastly different than what my calibrator chose, and these are the only settings I actually inherited from the calibrator. The link does warn though that "They are provided for reference, and should not be copied as the calibration values vary per individual unit even for the same model and same size as the TV we reviewed due to manufacturing tolerances. If you want to try them you will need to enter all values shown, as all of them are active at the same time. If you end up with worse picture quality, simply reset them to the default values."
This last point simply says to me: get the TV ISF-calibrated to get the correct white balance values for one's unit, then adjust the rest by eye, until the picture looks more to one's liking.
Finally, on image retention, this TV offers two options:
"Since OLED panels are susceptible to temporary image retention, and the possibility of permanent burn-in, there are two options available on the A8F to help reduce this. We recommend leaving 'Pixel shift' 'On', as this will shift the entire screen left and right by a few screens to help reduce image retention. This is usually not noticeable unless you are using the TV as a PC Monitor, in which case you might lose the first two or 3 columns of pixels on the edge of the screen.
There is also a 'Panel refresh' option, which will try and remove any built-up image retention on the panel. Sony officially only recommends running this once per year, as they say it can reduce the life of your panel."
For Ack; Sony is about to release (May) the new refreshed version UBP-X800M2 4K Universal Blu-ray player now with support to Dolby Vision HDR and HLG. Of course it also supports HDR10. As for HDR10+ a future firmware upgrade should take care of this as the new video processor chip can accommodate it.
Well, it has been a fascinating and frustrating journey, with no clear answers yet. Moreover, the UHD blu-ray burning landscape is really ugly.
*** Burning a UHD blu-ray ***
Starting with the last comment, burning a UHD blu-ray has proven particularly difficult, and for me, impossible. There are virtually no consumer products that can burn a UHD 4K blu-ray, and those two (non-commercial) that claim to, don't work. So it is very safe to say that the video industry is making it extremely difficult to burn your own UHD blu-rays, and the products that do (e.g. by Avid) are professional grade, cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you have be part of the industry to get them.
So, what are these products that claim to burn a UHD blu-ray?
1) DVDfab UHD Creator - cheap and the most promising of them all, but it simply crashes with every single video I have tried. Moreover, people who have also tried it claim that it removes any HDR burnt into their content.
2) There is a triumvirate of freeware that converts a 4K video (edited and prepared with a number of products out there, discussed below) to: a) an HD blu-ray structure on disk; b) another one that converts that structure to UHD; and c) a third that burns that structure into a regular blu-ray blank, making UHD blu-ray. They are in order: TSMUXER v2.6.12; TSM2UHD 1.12; and IMGBURN. There is one problem with all this: I can't get my Panasonic UHD player to read the disc's videos, although it does recognize it as UHD (a message flashes on the screen). I have engaged others' help, but they have not been able to burn a readable UHD blu-ray either. It feels like I am missing a switch or two within imgburn; I bet I will eventually succeed.
But, let it be known, any existing blu-ray burner plus 25/50/66/100GB blanks will do (single-, double-, triple- and quad-layer aka BDXL; however, playback support for BDXL discs is currently sketchy).
*** Why did I choose HLG as the HDR format in the first place ***
As discussed earlier, I got a Sony camcorder and Sony TV that support HLG as the HDR format, after waiting for years for it. The Panasonic DP-UB820-K HDR UHD Blu-ray Player (notice the -K) that I received recently adds HLG support as well - and its picture is really superior, even when playing HD software.
So the choice of HLG was very simple: it was supposed to be an "instant workflow" technology and it is, meaning, you just plug in an HLG source into an HLG-enabled HDR TV and watch beautiful UHD with High Dynamic Range content with NO need for post-processing (no editing software involved). Such is the case here: I can either plug in the HDMI-out from the camcorder to the TV, or better yet, take the SDXC card(s) out of the camcorder, plug them into a card-reader device, and then plug that into the USB input of the TV. The TV has an app to watch Videos from USB, and moreover, that offers by far the best picture, which is truly stunning from this Sony FDR-AX700 camcorder.
There is one obvious issue here: the videos are not stitched into any sequence... which is where the editing software comes in. Simply put, most other HDR formats look like sh*t as is (ie. as rendered out of the camcorder's HDMI port), which means they all require post-processing. Moreover, people claim that the best HDR picture is still obtained with HDR10 and HDR10+ or Dolby Vision, but again, those generated videos require post-processing, which is computationally expensive. A good quick read is at https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explor...s/understanding-hlg-and-instant-hdr-workflows
With the setting on your camera, you can now flag your footage as HDR, and if you plug in said camera to a 4K TV with HLG HDR support, it will immediately play it back with the appropriate contrast and tones, including the brighter highlights and increased contrast that make HDR so appealing. This ability is also what makes this an “instant” HDR workflow.
*** Editing and Authoring Software for 4K XAVC-S + HLG content ***
Well, sh*t, this is another rat hole.
The aforementioned PowerDirector 17 runs on Windows 10, and I have 7Pro, though it does support XAVC-S encodings but unclear if it works with HLG HDR. Will have to buy it in order to try on Win7.
Then, there is the super-duper MAGIX Vegas Pro 16 for $500, runs on Windows 7, also supports XAVC-S, but NOT HLG at the moment - ugh. However, it is really powerful and can output HEVC encoded HDR10 videos ready to be played on any UHD+HDR device, if the input video is using Slog2/SGamut (and possibly Slog3) for HDR, and supports ACES (Academy Color Editing System), plus 32-bit floating point calculations. On the very powerful, overclocked desktop I've built, there is a 5X-30X penalty in rendering time over the input video's length! But the lack of HLG support is a showstopper for me; I would have to shoot in Slog2/SGamut to be able to use it. It does come with DVD Architect to author nice-looking DVDs and blu-rays, but its burning capabilities make a point to down-convert the 4K content to HD! Finally, despite the fact Pro 16 also includes the ability to burn a blu-ray of the edited content, it also makes a point to down-convert to HD. In other words again, the industry is making it really hard to burn UHD blu-rays.
Then, there is the very powerful and interesting Davinci Resolve 15 Studio (you must really check it out), which costs $300 supports XAVC-S (the free version does not) , but still unclear on HLG support. I will have to buy it in order to evaluate, unlike Vegas which has a 30-day free eval. Users claim they run it on Windows 7 with no problems, although it's not officially supported.
Unsurprisingly, Sony's free PlayMemories Home works well, but it's severely limited in editing capabilities, and does not burn anything. But at least one can stitch videos together, generate a new XAVC-S + HLG video, save it on an SDCX card and play it through the HLG-enabled TV's input USB port. You can also save the output videos onto a USB stick, but keep in mind, USB sticks are FAT32 formatted, which means no video longer than 4GB minus 1 byte can be stored on it - you would have to first re-format the stick as NTFS file system.
Finally, there are a few other lesser products, costing $100 or less, that just don't support HLG either, that I won't bother with.
In closing, it is fascinating to even try to understand all the various encoding formats, and frustrating to figure out who supports what and to what degree - the devil is in the details.
*** The bottom line ***
Glad I decided to go for HLG for High Dynamic Range for my 4K content. Eventually, a lot of software will support XAVC-S + HLG, which will make editing extremely straight-forward without the need for a lot of computational power, and it will be easy to display on HLG-enabled UHD blu-ray players (like my Panasonic) and TVs (like my Sony A8F). It will be plug-n-play.
Until then, I need to spend more time evaluating editing software, and what to do about burning UHD blu-rays.
*** Follow up to Editing Software: HEVC/H.265 + HDR10 vs XAVC-S + HLG ***
So it's been an interesting time trying to compare Vegas Pro 16 vs Sony's free PlayMemories Home: again, the former is a full-blown editing tool but supports only XAVC-S and not HLG (therefore, it only generates Standard Dynamic Range videos, if fed HLG; but does generate HDR10 with all other HDR algorithms); the latter is only for stitching clips but supports XAVC-S and HLG.
So I started instead shooting 4K videos with S-log2/S-Gamut for the HDR, hoping that the resulting rendering with Vegas would look as great as XAVC-S + HLG out of PMH. The generated HEVC (aka H.265) compressed + HDR10 MP4s out of Vegas are surely much smaller in size, but they just don't look as good as the much larger XAVC-S+HLG MP4s.
So I did a little digging to understand HEVC (aka H.265) compression, and it became rather obvious why the picture is poorer, regardless of the fact the files are much smaller.
Here are some key aspects of HEVC compression from Wikipedia, and notice the highlighted part:
The primary changes for HEVC include the expansion of the pattern comparison and difference-coding areas from 16×16 pixel [in AVC aka H.264 typically used for HD content] to sizes up to 64×64, improved variable-block-size segmentation, improved "intra" prediction within the same picture, improved motion vector prediction and motion region merging, improved motion compensation filtering, and an additional filtering step called sample-adaptive offset filtering. Effective use of these improvements requires much more signal processing capability for compressing the video, but has less impact on the amount of computation needed for decompression.
These 16x16 vs 64x64 pixel areas can be best demonstrated as follows:
Basically, every encoder/compressor at its core will try to identify areas between frames that do not change and attempt to represent them with a single pixel value (this is just one of its functions, for sure). It then becomes obvious that, no matter how more sophisticated overall H.265 is, the picture quality at the 64x64 setting will not be as good, regardless of video resolution. It almost begs one to use H.264 for UHD as well [as we do for HD]. Well, such encoding options and smaller sampling areas are provided in Vegas, but is the picture as great...
Moreover, the bitrates between the two MP4s are nowhere close to each other: I can barely get 25Mbps out of HEVC, and I am easily pushing 85Mbps out of the XAVC-S+HLG (the camcorder I chose can also record up to 100Mbps, and that was a critical factor for me). The other consideration here is post-processing power required to generate the best HEVC video, and here, I can say that a 45 second video takes about 15 minutes to render on my over-clocked high end PC - and that's just a long time! By contrast, Sony's software stitches the same short videos in about 2 minutes.
Picture quality: both MP4 types are HDR, but the superiority of the XAVC-S + HLG version is more than obvious; it is far superior and by a wide margin. HLG was co-developed by the BBC and NHK, as far as I am reading, in an attempt to provide "instant workflows" (without need for post-processing, as posted earlier), and I think they have succeeded. So much so that folks in Europe could watch the World Cup last year in 4K with HLG live, without additional hardware or signal delays.
So I just bought the best 256GB USB stick I could find, NTFS formatted, and have thrown an hour's worth of videos so far which take up about 100GB space. That stick goes into the TV's USB input and the Video app already recognizes all kinds of HDR formats.
Finally, a word about Dolby Vision for High Dynamic Range: The Panasonic player supports it, and I bought Ocean's 8 which is encoded in DV; UNREAL picture quality, and by far the best 4K HDR visuals, even better than the famed BBC's Planet Earth II (which is encoded in HDR10 as far as I can tell). As everyone else seems to suggest, Dolby Vision is It. Great stuff.
The world of video is one fascinating complex maze of technologies, specifications, incompatibilities, gotchas and intrigue.
*** Edius 9 Pro for XAVC-S + HLG editing ***
At long last, a consumer-grade piece of software (~$300) that supports full HLG editing (not just stitching), and as it turns out, this is very popular with TV stations - over 90% of them in Japan alone use it - and its claim to fame is the sheer number of formats it supports, while offering quite an extensive editing suite, making for really high end looking professional videos. But alas, I could not find an HDR10 mode... yet...
Let me cut to the chase... One of the reasons I picked the Sony FDR-AX700 camcorder was not only HLG, but the fact it can record at the wider color space that goes by "BT.2020" (over the more typical and narrower Rec.709). Edius can process both HLG and BT.2020, and import and export Sony XAVC-S formats.
At the same time, it's the hardest editing software to understand so far; and for example, to export one's edited video to an MP4, one has to Export -> Print To File... "Print"??? to a file?
And then, here come the gotchas... I tried to output in HEVC/H.265 and got an error that there is no hardware support for it ("unavailability of export encoder"). A little digging, and it turns out that it will not encode in software - unlike Vegas, which is why it takes 30X the length of the video - but rather, it expects CPU support; and moreover, unlike Vegas which can do HEVC/H.265 by offloading to your Nvidia card (H.265 using "NVENC"), Edius has no such option. So why did it not find H.265 hardware support in my CPU? Well, because it doesn't have it, Captain Obvious!
Version 4 (Broadwell) The Broadwell microarchitecture adds VP8 hardware decoding support. Also, it has two independent bit stream decoder (BSD) rings to process video commands on GT3 GPUs; this allows one BSD ring to process decoding and the other BSD ring to process encoding at the same time.
Version 5 (Skylake) The Skylake microarchitecture adds a full fixed-functionH.265/HEVC main/8-bit encoding and decoding acceleration, hybrid and partial HEVC main10/10-bit decoding acceleration, JPEG encoding acceleration for resolutions up to 16,000×16,000 pixels, and partial VP9 encoding and decoding acceleration.
Version 6 (Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake, Whiskey Lake) The Kaby Lake & Coffee Lake microarchitecture adds full fixed-function H.265/HEVC Main10/10-bit encoding and decoding acceleration & full fixed-function VP9 8-bit & 10-bit decoding acceleration & 8-bit encoding acceleration.
Well, what this says is that my CPU supports H.264/AVC (typically used for HD) but not H.265/HEVC (typically used for UHD). Moreover, one should really build a PC around the very latest processors (Version 6 and higher) in order to get H.265 support AND 10-bit video processing (my camcorder is 8-bit; typically pro video recorders are 10- and 12-bit, at start at around $7500 right now).
But alas, one can use whatever video compressor one pleases for UHD as well, and sure enough, Edius has such an option. In addition, by looking at the picture above, the smaller processing areas of H.264 ought to result in a better looking HEVC MP4, and they are:
By using hardware support then, production times are cut to approximately 2.2X with super-fine quality, so much faster than Vegas in software mode, outputing XAVC-S in both cases. For example, a 26 minute video renders in 60 minutes, using some 300 processing threads(!!!); all of that, with 100Mbps bitrate, basically 100Mbps just like the camera can record, but I am glad it's there, because with Vegas I cannot get anywhere near that bitrate. Total rendering time for HEVC but with H.264 compression was also 2.2X.
At this point, the tradeoffs are clear:
1) Vegas Pro for very slow HEVC/H.265 software-based rendering (due to lack of CPU support) that are not very high quality, upgrading my CPU is not an option, full editing capabilities, but NO HLG support, though XAVC-S in and out... Must wait for newer versions with HLG support
2) Edius Pro for hardware rendering only (2X the length of the movie), HLG + BT.2020 support, full editing capabilities, but H.264 compression only (no H.265 support by my CPU) if I care to generate HEVC content, XAVC-S + HLG in and out... not a bad option for $450
3) PlayMemories Home just for quick stitching, no editing, XAVC-S + HLG in and out