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HD DVD gains advantage with Film Grain Technology

July 16th, 2006 · 1 Comment

To date the general consensus is that movies are looking rather better than rival titles. Could this be down to Thomson’s innovative , currently used to retain the characteristics of film during the encode/decode process of HD DVD mastering and playback?
The patented process, which has just been ratified by The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, saves bit-space by not compressing film grain itself. Genuine grain, which naturally occurs in film emulsion, is difficult to encode, because it’s random in nature. To add it artificially at play-out reduces strain on the bit-budget, allowing bit-space to be devoted to real image detail.
HD movies encoded and played without the process tend to look flat or artificial, says Thomson. Because Film Grain Technology inserts a simulated grain pattern back into the video signal on playback, it creates an illusion of texture and depth that looks far more like the original theatrical image.
Jeff Cooper, of Thomson’s Corporate Research Center says that the system has fooled several of the top ‘golden eyes’ in Hollywood. “They couldn’t tell the difference between original film and the video grain produced by our technique,” he says.
According to Cooper, this was never an issue with standard definition video, because the signal couldn’t resolve grain anyway. But with HDTV, grain is intrinsic to the perception of image quality.
Thomson is postulating other uses for its Film Grain Technology, such as during the production of feature films which combine traditional film and CGI (which is grain free). By applying artificial grain through the film, the entire movie can be given a consistent visual look.
The technology is mandatory part of the HD DVD player specification. Thomson says it was also offered to the Blu-ray Disc Association, but it was not adopted for the format.

Tags: High definition TV · Trade

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Lyris // Jul 19, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    >> “Could this be down to Thomson’s innovative Film Grain Technology, currently used to retain the characteristics of film during the encode/decode process of HD DVD mastering and playback?”

    My understanding was that the “Film Grain Technology” wasn’t yet available on any player and is something for the future.

    Either way, I’m skeptical that they’ll get this looking right.

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