Mystery Box Delivers Picture Accurate HDR Production & Mastering with AJA HDR Image Analyzer

Mystery Box Delivers Picture Accurate HDR Production & Mastering with AJA HDR Image Analyzer

December 17, 2018

The expert team of visual storytellers and content creators at Mystery Box provide high-end video production services for film, documentary, television, commercial, music video, web series and corporate video projects, including 4K/8K production, HDR finishing, and capturing beautiful stock footage from around the globe.

One of the Mystery Box’s first HDR projects required mastering NASA footage for LG’s product launches at CES 2016, in order to showcase the display capabilities of LG’s new lineup of HDR capable OLED TVs. Today, Mystery Box is Dolby Vision (DV) qualified and provides high-end HDR grading services to clients, creating immersive viewing experiences that more accurately replicate what the human eye is capable of viewing than traditional SDR. 

To address many of the challenges typically encountered with HDR productions, Mystery Box recently adopted AJA HDR Image Analyzer, a powerful HDR waveform, histogram and vectorscope monitoring and analysis solution developed in partnership with Colorfront. Integrated into the team’s post-production workflow at Mystery Box’s Utah offices, HDR Image Analyzer’s robust toolset provides detailed accuracy for reviewing and analyzing color grades of 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD imagery at the highest level of precision. “We needed a solution capable of providing pinpoint accuracy for detailed HDR color correction,” said Samuel Bilodeau, Head of Technology and Post Production at Mystery Box, “HDR Image Analyzer gives us the precision to look at the color and brightness values of a specific pixel without giving up our global perspective on the grade, so that we can creatively and accurately adjust its midtones and speculars. Our brains interpret dark regions differently than the rest of the image, and so we rely on HDR Image Analyzer to precisely view all color data and provide insight on how to make our images look spectacular.”

“When working in HDR it’s easy to accidentally push color outside of the acceptable P3 color gamut or to push brightness outside of the range of your display. HDR Image Analyzer catches these operational errors and gives me the confidence that when I hand off picture, it will be identical to the intended mastered look on any display. It’s an essential tool for HDR color grading—or anytime you’re doing real time HDR output.” continued Bilodeau. 

HDR Image Analyzer features that have benefitted Bilodeau the most include compatibility with all major camera log types on input, and the versatile toolset including colorspace adaptive vectorscope monitoring and the new gamut scope. “HDR Image Analyzer is able to surface information and insights into what you’re actually doing with the picture and how it’s responding in HDR, with a depth that you can’t get with traditional video scopes,” noted Bilodeau. 

Mystery Box has one HDR Image Analyzer centralized on their recently converted 12G SDI video network working with an AJA 12GM Mini-Converter to split the signal into quad 3G-SDI for 4K 60P input, and with an AJA HA5-12G HDMI to 12G Mini-Converter to convert Analyzer’s output back to SDI to route to any of the UltraHD displays anywhere in its office or grading bays. “With this setup, we have the flexibility to use HDR Image Analyzer in any of our grading suites, which is very helpful.”

While analyzing footage from a recent international shoot, Bilodeau made use of the device’s real-time tools to provide live feedback on the color grade, allowing for seamless adjustments. Since HDR Image Analyzer accepts Log from all major camera types, it’s also been helpful on-set for the DIT and cinematographer to understand where the scene’s dynamic range is landing in the spectrum in an easy to read interface. He also cited the gamut tool as an essential feature to easily identify how much of the image requires the broader master color space, and the peak brightness tool as a way to quickly review overall and peak luminosity in NITs. Mystery Box uses HDR Image Analyzer throughout the entire production pipeline without needing to change tools, by implementing easily accessible custom setups for analysis modes and color space color combinations. Using the LUT converter feature, the team can also view how the final HDR grades will appear on SDR displays and make real-time grade additional adjustments as needed.

“HDR Image Analyzer opens up a whole realm of understanding of what you’re doing to your image color and brightness values that there would be no other way to get,” concluded Bilodeau.

About HDR Image Analyzer
HDR Image Analyzer delivers a comprehensive array of tools for the effective analysis of the latest HDR standards – including HLG, PQ and Rec.2020 – from 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD content in a convenient real time 1RU device. Developed in partnership with Colorfront, AJA HDR Image Analyzer supports a wealth of inputs from camera LOG formats to SDR (REC 709), PQ (ST 2084) and HLG and offers color gamut support for BT.2020 alongside traditional BT.709. AJA hardware prowess ensures high reliability and performance, with 4x 3G-SDI input and output, and DisplayPort connections. For more information, visit: www.aja.com/products/hdr-image-analyzer.

About AJA Video Systems, Inc.
Since 1993, AJA Video has been a leading manufacturer of video interface technologies, converters, digital video recording solutions and professional cameras, bringing high quality, cost effective products to the professional broadcast, video and postproduction markets. AJA products are designed and manufactured at our facilities in Grass Valley, California, and sold through an extensive sales channel of resellers and systems integrators around the world. For further information, please see our website at www.aja.com

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