Formula 1 is to perform a full offline HDR test during the upcoming British Grand Prix, the series has confirmed.
Prior to the 2021 season, F1 revealed that HDR (high dynamic range) tests would take place this year, but did not offer further information on the nature of the test.
Now, F1’s director of broadcast and media Dean Locke has confirmed further details about their foray into the HDR world.
“We’re doing a full major offline test in Silverstone,” Locke confirmed, speaking at the SVG Europe Motorsport Show.
“I think we already know an awful lot around acquisition, how we’re going to capture the imagery, how we’re going to rack it and everything around that.”
“This test is more around our distribution network, which is pretty complicated! There’s lots of different flavours to what we produce as well and how we do that. We’re looking to do an offline test to iron that bit and to find out what we don’t know as well.”
While Locke refused to commit to a date for F1’s formal HDR launch, Locke believes that F1 should have a much clearer indication of timescales post-Silverstone.
Locke also explained why F1 is moving ahead with HDR quickly despite being slower in the HD space a decade ago.
“We were a little slower with HD and that was mainly because our broadcast partners weren’t requesting it, they didn’t feel it was on their road map,” Locke says.
What is High Dynamic Range?
High dynamic range (HDR) video technology is the next great leap forward to reproducing what the naked eye sees in colours and in contrast between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks.
HDR video is about recreating image realism from camera through postproduction to distribution and display.
Technically speaking, HDR video standards encompass more than just higher peak brightness and lower black levels. HDR also supports a wider colour palette, new transfer functions, greater bit depth, and static and/or dynamic metadata.Source: Amazon Web Services (AWS)
“Now, we’ve got very active broadcast partners who work with Ultra HD as well, they’re very quick to adopt. I think it’s the same with HDR, we want to be cutting edge, Formula 1’s all about that and so we should be. Our broadcast partners are asking, we’re listening and seeing what we can do.”
“Anything we can do improve that picture quality, whether that’s just the type of cameras, high motion cameras, but also HDR. It’s of massive interest to us if we can make that imagery look even more spectacular than what it already does.”
F1’s move is in-line with the recent industry trend, with many broadcasters including NBC and Eurosport airing the Olympics in HDR for the first time this July.
Elsewhere, Locke addressed the challenges that the pandemic, and the UK’s exit from the European Union, has brought for F1.
“I think it’s more challenging this year than what it was last year, with different exemptions back here in the UK.”
“We have quarantining between the races which is really difficult for crews and personnel working on that coming back. Some countries are further behind than the UK on vaccinations, so they’ve still got pretty strict rulings in.”
“I think also freight, with Brexit and everything around that, is quite challenging this year compared to last, and the calendar. We have a calendar this year, but it’s become quite difficult to plan due to the fluid situation.”
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