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In the game of pool, the key to making a trick shot work is in knowing exactly how to set it up. Trick Shot, a short film about a surprisingly normal family of pool-playing con artists, owes both its narrative and technical flow to one such expertly executed setup. Directed by Evan Kaufmann and shot in 4K by DP Gale Tattersall with Canon's C300 MK II camera in 10-bit Canon Log 2 Gamma, the short was produced by LēTo Entertainment and Revolution Pictures. It screened in 4K at NAB and can be seen in high definition on Vimeo.

Beyond its artful plot twist, Trick Shot aims to show filmmakers how creative a tool High Dynamic Range (HDR) can be during production, not just during the edit and grade. “The film was designed to test the parameters of HDR in conjunction with on-set monitoring,” says HDR on-set and post adviser Curtis Clark, ASC, the legendary chair of the ASC Technology Committee that developed the ASC Color Decision List (ASC CDL) exchange and helped transition the industry to the Academy's ACES workflow. “It worked really, really well on set, and this was an epiphany for me, especially since we were using prototypes of both the camera and the monitor.”

The technical setup proving Canon's point involved the company's soon-to-be-shipping DP-V2410, a 24-inch, high-brightness 4K reference display that gave the Trick Shot filmmakers an entirely new perspective on the C300 MK II's 4K RAW footage on site. The monitor's HDR mode took the full RAW log data and the wide color Cinema Gamut from the camera — which includes 15 stops of dynamic range — via a single 3G-SDI cable mapped into a wide gamut color space on the DCI-P3 display panel, revealing bright highlights and rich layered shadows simultaneously in a single scene. “The monitor has a wide color gamut, which works perfectly with the Cinema Gamut of the C300 MK II,” Clark says.

How can 15 stops of dynamic range be seen on a monitor that boasts only a 400-nit maximum luminance level? The Canon Log 2 format, says Clark. “We couldn't do it without it. Those 15 stops are, in effect, 32,000:1 contrast range, and the monitor is nowhere near that. You need to be able to map those 15 stops within the display's capabilities. I knew going into the shoot what the promise was, but we had to see the evidence of what it delivered. And it was all there from the very start.”

A built-in de-bayering function delivers the 
Canon Log 2 RAW images to the ACES 1.0 processing that is built into the reference display. On-set adjustments can be made to the 4K image (e.g., using a Tangent panel) to achieve the look
desired by the Director and DoP. The display separately accepts the ACESProxy (v.1) 10-bit 
serial digital output of the C300 MK II camera, allowing on-set color grading when recording 
on-board in XF-AVC.

Clark says he and Tattersall worked closely to 
figure out how far the dynamic range of the 
scene could be pushed in the highlight areas 
while maintaining the shadow details, shown to 
full effect during a darkly lit interior scene where a sunlit cherry-red Mustang is in full view out the window. “We wanted to see where we could go beyond the expected SDR (Standard Dynamic Range),” he says. “We knew the specs of the camera could handle HDR, but unless you're also able to see it, it's hard to fully trust that it's there. On a standard 
Rec. 709 monitor, most of the highlights would be shown as clipped, because that's all it could display. 
And if you can't see it, you might tend to adjust lighting and exposure to accommodate the limitations of the on-set display. Otherwise, directors or producers might start freaking out because there's no 
highlight detail.”

A Monitor for the Future
Clark sees tremendous creative possibilities ahead for filmmakers using HDR capture and preview on set. “HDR gives you an entirely new canvas, especially in using those increased highlights in a shot. You get a real, visceral sense of dimensionality with HDR, which I think becomes quite clear in several scenes in Trick Shot. For those who like to use large depth of field, it's going to be a phenomenal tool.” There may be a learning curve for some cinematographers, he adds. “You will need to make creative use of HDR, especially in the highlights, so it becomes a compelling immersive component of watching an image. That means that you can play with greater depth in the scene and have attention drawn to where you want it through image composition and camera blocking without having to use a cut to do that. It could become a kind of 'virtual 3D,' so to speak, that gives audiences a more subjective experience of immersive depth without requiring them to wear glasses.

“It's almost like the Holy Grail,” he concludes. “Being able to shoot 15 stops of HDR is quite crucial, but then what you do with it to enhance the visual narrative is key. Being able to see HDR images on-set from the C300 MK II built tremendous confidence and encouraged exciting creative decisions in a situation where no one had shot this particular kind of digital HDR before.”

Small, easily portable and considerably less expensive than other 4K HDR reference monitors on the market, the DP-V2410 is expected to ship in November for $17,999.

View 4K Display Details | View EOS C300 Mark II Details

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