HDR Video in the real world

Sure, you've probably seen the amazing timelapse HDR videos by Jay Burlage. Maybe you've already updated your Promote Control's firmware and tried some HDR timelapse yourself. But in the real world, shooting timelapse footage is rather the exception than the rule.

Digital video suffers from the same dynamic range limitations like photography, maybe even more because only very few video cameras offer RAW output. You may be able to tweak colors, framerate, shutter speed and grain to make video look like it was shot on film, but a clipped sky and blocked shadows always remain as the dead giveaway that the original source was a digital sensor. Soon this is about to change - with HDR video capture.

And while everyone is waiting for the RED Scarlet to arrive with a real HDR shooting mode (which is rumored to be still and moving footage), stereographer Graham Clark from E3D Creative came up with this brilliant example of a real world HDR shot:

More MOTION HDR from E3D Creative on Vimeo.

Graham explains:

Shot on 2 Red One's without MX upgrade with the OmniRig using 2 Ruby 14-24 zooms at 16mm with no geometric or lens fix in post. Tone mapping done in AE CS5 32bit project, added a little saturation on the HDR. This was shot at about noon with no lights or bounce, it was almost impossible to see into the shadows with our eyes as it was so bright out."

The OmniRig he's referring to is actually a Stereo-3D rig with a beamsplitter, which makes it possible to set the eye distance to 0 and simultaneously shoot different exposures with two cameras. It looks like this:

OmniRig on the Cartoni Twin 3D head from E3D Creative on Vimeo. More great photos on the E3D Creative website.

It does bear a striking resemblance to the 1930's three-strip technicolor monster cameras, doesn't it? When a stereo rig is misused like this for dynamic range increase, there's also an interesting technological parallel to shooting in color at a time when there is only black-n-white film available.

With 3D on the rise there are actually quite a few beamsplitter stereo rigs available now, notably from 3D Film Factory, 3Ality Digital, and Technica3D. For DSLR shooters like us, the best option seems to be the 3D-BS Mini Rig for $2,895. Unless of course, you'd just order a semitransparent 50/50 mirror and start building your own rig... or simply hire E3D Creative for your shoot!

PS - Monthly Update:

The Hot-on-Flickr gallery is rebooted for July, and to celebrate the WorldCup the free sIBL-of-the-Month is a football stadium from my hometown Halle.

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