has already gotten its share of attention with its Professional Reference Monitor PRM-4200, winning awards such as the Hollywood Post Alliance
's 2011 Engineering Excellence Award and IBC
's 2010 IABM Award for Excellence. At NAB 2012, Dolby has sweetened the deal for professionals who already own the PRM-4200 or are interested in it.
Bill Admans, |
Director of Production and Postproduction at Dolby
"First, we're adding support for content shot in 48 fps," says Bill Admans, Director of Production and Postproduction. "We've had lots of requests and interests around 48 fps, particularly of course with both James Cameron and Peter Jackson advocating 48 fps production. Post facilities, particularly Digital Intermediate facilities, have asked for support for this."
Dolby partnered with ARRI
and the results --- a short film directed, shot, produced and graded by Academy Award-winning visual effects artist Rob Legato
-- will be demonstrated at both companies' booths. But Adman is also quick to point out that the 48 fps support is not limited to the ARRI Alexa. "It's really becoming a broadly used format that a number of cameras will be supporting," he says. "Our support for 48 fps is not tied to any particular camera."
Also germane to the PRM-4200 is a new calibration service for the monitor. "We've had a lot of requests from customers for Dolby to provide a calibration service," says Adman. Up until now, anyone purchasing a professional monitor has had to invest in calibration equipment, which, notes Admans, "can be more expensive than the monitor itself."
Dolby will offer three levels of the calibration service. A Basic Calibration is priced at $450. "We come in and do a full confirm of all the color spaces and make sure we calibrate for the preferred white point for Digital Cinema," Admans says. "We ensure the luminescence level is accurate and confirm any custom color spaces or LUTs. We can also include set-up for additional monitors in the facility."
For customers who prefer to commit to a regular recalibration of the monitor and want to save some money, Dolby offers a $1,500 package for four calibrations within the year. "That is more than enough for most customers because the monitor itself remains in calibration for a long time," says Admans. "In today's post houses and DI workflows, it's best practice to check the monitors on a regular basis. Or, if you're starting a new movie or TV project, it's good to calibrate to make sure all the equipment is operating correctly."
The second service is what Dolby dubs Calibrated Display Matching. "This is very much a more specialized service," he says. "This is when you need us to come in and match the PRM to other devices in the workflow. For example, we may be fitting into a DI environment, such as the one for The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo
, where we matched the PRM-4200 in Light Iron Digital
with the performance of the digital projector."
Dolby has had a lot of requests from customers for Dolby to provide a calibration service for the PRM-4200
"This allows you with confidence have a monitor on a remote location and know that it actually matches what the colorist is seeing in the DI room," he continues. "This is a huge benefit to filmmakers. When David Fincher was doing Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
, his office was across town. Light Iron set up a viewing environment in his office and he could see what was going on in the DI grading environment, which allowed him great efficiency in his workflow." Calibrated Display Matching is priced at $1,000; there is no established package price but Admans says he's "happy to talk to customers" should they be interested in one.
Last, Advanced Display Calibration includes all of the services found in the Basic Calibration package…and then some. "What we also include is a normalization of the backlight characteristics associated with long-term use," he says. "We profile the backlight and address each of the individual LEDs to make sure they're each performing at the right level and it's uniform. This is a much more sophisticated process and helps the customer get a lot of extra life out of the monitor. Each time we do this, we return the backlight to factory specifications for chromaticity and luminescence conformance." The Advanced Display Calibration is priced at $650.
Admans says he has already getting a positive reaction from customers. "They are saying that this is exactly the kind of thinking they expect from Dolby," he says. "It was a big business problem for customers when they're purchasing products and then need to purchase calibration gear. We're halving the cost of ownership. It delivers confidence, not just for the owner of the monitor but the fact that the owner can tell his clients that the monitor is guaranteed perfectly calibrated, by Dolby."
As noted in Creative COW's previous coverage
, professional monitors are crucial to the production and post process and yet somewhat of a black art. Dolby's service speaks to the trend we're going to be seeing a lot more of -- services rather than products -- but calibration is an ideal application for a service, especially in facilities that have had to reduce their engineering staff. Will this tip the balance for those considering the purchase of a Dolby PRM-4200? Only time will tell.