Movie Theaters Need Open Standards For High Dynamic Range Projection: NATO

Hollywood and movie theaters should take a breather before adopting high dynamic range technologies, the National Association of Theatre Owners says today. The trade group released its technological requirements for HDR projection systems, including laser projectors, and says that it wants open standards “so as to avoid multiple, incompatible proprietary systems. … We hope to work with studios, service providers and equipment manufacturers in understanding and refining our requirements.”

The fear is that theater owners might find themselves with a dilemma similar to one they faced in the 1980s and ’90s when they had to buy multiple proprietary digital sound technologies in order to accommodate different movies. Dolby, Barco, and Technicolor are among the companies offering versions of HDR, which offers rich colors and sharp images.

“It is essential that a theater that selects one class of HDR or lasers be able to play all movies that are released in this class of new technologies,” NATO says. “We also recognize the complexities of mastering to multiple target systems and the added complexity of distribution of multiple masters. We also believe it is time to define standards for new 2D and 3D projectors. With this in mind — and considering the difficulties of achieving high brightness, particularly on low-gain screens — there should be an acceptable tolerance on either side in achieving these to find open standards. There also needs to be consideration of the illumination falloff with age of laser-based projectors.”

NATO adds that it wants no more than two open standards for HDR in 2D and two for 3D.

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