Gamma and Dynamic Range Needs for an HDTV Electronic Cinematography System

Harry Mathias, San Jose State University

Copyright © 1987 Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.


A cinematographer's perspective regarding gamma and contrast manipulation in video and film is given. In film, a selective exposure can be used; the negative characteristic is the cinematographer's creative tool. The use of film as a video medium is considered, both negative and positive transfer. Contrast reproduction in the video medium is explained, and film and video gammas are compared. Also compared with the film gamma is the gamma obtained with an HDTV camera. Future trends are sketched, and current HDTV specifications are compared with the characteristics of film. Predictability and consistency of results, that is, the final image on the screen, are the cinematographer's foremost concern.