Bring Your Ray Bans: Dolby Demos Latest Display Technology at SIGGRAPH

by Brian Caulfield

Go ahead. Take a picture. It won’t do any good. That’s why Dolby is putting its latest technology on display at NVIDIA’s booth at the SIGGRAPH graphics conference this week.

With the help of NVIDIA engineers, Dolby has put Epic’s “Elemental,” Unreal Engine 4 demo on its new “extended dynamic range,” or EDR, display. The result is stunning.

Flashes of sunlight are almost wince-inducing. Glowing red magma seems to burn into your retinas. And shapes hidden by dark shadows are brought out as dark details contrast with darker ones.

“It’s hypnotic,” said Braden Evans, CTO at startup Lucidscape Technologies, as he listened to Dolby’s Bill Hofmann walk a crowd through the technical details. “You could get really addicted to this – I may have a problem.”

Dolby's Bill Hofmann explains EDR at this week's SIGGRAPH conference.
Dolby’s Bill Hofmann explains EDR at this week’s SIGGRAPH conference.

It’s a level of realism that can’t be captured by an ordinary camera. But put side-by-side with a conventional high-definition monitor, and Dolby’s proof-of-concept display is like looking through a window into a virtual world.

The story behind the demo: Dolby wants to do for movies and TV what it has long done with audio – create experiences that are more visceral and truer to life.

Compared to conventional displays, EDR comes closer to the broad range of brightness and color that the human eye can see. Our eyes have a visual range of 20,000 nits, or 200 times that of most high-definition television sets.

To create images that extend across a bigger chunk of that range, Dolby is doing more than just licensing its technology to companies making high-end televisions and displays.

Dolby has built a GPU-accelerated video and visual effects pipeline that can encode up to 10,000 nits. When applied to a videogame demo like “Elemental,” the result is stunning.

So if you’re at SIGGRAPH this week leave your camera behind and step into our booth. And bring some shades.

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