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Sony HDR Projection Reimagined Page 3

Posted on December 1, 2020 by Phil Jones


The VPL-GTZ380 supports HDR10, which is used for movies and TV shows as well as HLG formats which will be utilized for live broadcast. In addition to a rated brightness of 10,000 lumens, 100% DCI-P3 color coverage, and a 16,000:1 native contrast, the flagship VPL-GTZ380 is also equipped with the biggest brain Sony has ever put into a projector.

To further enhance SDR and HDR picture quality, the GTZ380 is the first Sony projector to utilize the new picture processor called “X1 Ultimate for projector” which is based on the original X1 Ultimate processor used for Sony’s top of the line of BRAVIA TVs. While the processor was originally designed for Sony’s lineup of OLED and LCD flat-panel TVs, this version has been optimized for projectors with the goal of enhancing the picture quality of projected images.

The X1 Ultimate processor is likely the most powerful video processor ever used in a home theater projector. Originally designed for Sony's state of the art Master Series LCD and OLED flat-panel televisions, the new “X1 Ultimate” processor should not only improve detail and resolution, but it should also provide a noticeable improvement in the HDR performance compared to the VW5000ES / GTZ280. HDR content will be brighter with richer colors, deeper black levels, and bright highlight detail will be more visible.

Accurate reproduction of the brightness and color contained in HDR content has always been a struggle for projectors. The ability to reproduce 100% DCI-P3 at 10,000 lumens already gives the GTZ380 a massive advantage over just about any other HDR-compatible projector.

To maximize the viewing experience, the X1 Ultimate processor found in the GTZ380 includes two new features designed to maintain both the highlight and shadow detail found in HDR content.

The first feature, called the Dynamic HDR Enhancer, analyzes HDR content scene by scene for more precise dynamic tone mapping of HDR10 content. Dynamically measuring the brightness of HDR is always better than using the metadata found in HDR10 content.

Many projectors try to use the metadata embedded in HDR10 content to tone map the HDR content with the goal of better utilizing its limited brightness capabilities. Since the MaxFALL/MaxCLL metadata is based on the average brightness of the brightest frame and brightest pixel in the movie, certain scenes with lower than average frame levels can still look way too dark. Also, the metadata is often missing or incorrect so the projector might not have the right information to work with. Also, since the same embedded metadata (MaxCLL/MaxFALL) is applied throughout the entire movie, the tone mapping decisions made by the projector can be very inaccurate.

If a projector with less brightness does a better job tone mapping than a brighter projector, HDR will look better on the dimmer projector. This is one of the reasons why HDR content looks better on an 1800 lumen Sony VW715ES than most competitor’s 3000 lumen home theater models.

To learn more about the importance of Dynamic HDR tone mapping check out our September sponsored article:

Since the GTZ380 has the ability to analyze HDR content dynamically frame by frame, it can make better tone mapping decisions. This ensures the awesome performance potential of the GTZ380 is fully maximized.

Remember, whereas HDR analysis and dynamic tone mapping is a new concept for most projector manufacturers, Sony benefits from years of experience since this capability has been available in their X1 equipped 4K HDR TVs since 2017. In the GTZ380, this precision tone mapping is combined with a dynamic laser and a dynamic iris to greatly improve the look of HDR content.

The second feature, called Object-based HDR Remaster, analyzes and adjusts the colors and contrast of individual objects on the screen. Some projectors can adjust contrast frame-by-frame, this is accomplished along a single contrast curve. The X1 Ultimate adjusts each object in each frame individually using multiple contrast curves per frame. This results in greater depth, richer textures, and an even more realistic HDR image. Object-based HDR Remaster also makes a noticeable improvement to SDR content as well.

While more and more 4K HDR content available every day, a lot of the content we watch is still in HD. When HD content is projected onto a massive screen, it is easy to see noise and artifacts. When using conventional video processing, noise reduction can have a negative effect on overall detail. Most video processors still struggle when trying to determine what is noise and what is detail.

For even better 4K upscaling, the X1 Ultimate also includes Dual Database Processing. Two powerful image improvement databases work together, dynamically improving images in real-time. 4K X-Reality PRO™ upscales images to near 4K clarity while a second database cleans the picture and reduces on-screen noise.

Sony VPL-GTZ380: The new "King of Home Theater Projection"

Sony was one of the first companies to produce professional projectors capable of delivering native 4K (4096 × 2160) resolution and they continue to innovate. The new flagship VPL-GTZ380 projector incorporates tons of Sony’s cutting-edge technologies in a compact form factor. If you just need a 10,000-lumen projector to display PowerPoint, there are several less expensive solutions available from Sony and others.

However, if high brightness along with great native contrast, accurate wide color reproduction, razor-sharp motion, and maximum image detail is an absolute must the VPL-GTZ380 might be the choice for you. Due to its specifications and powerful video processing, the GTZ380 should reign supreme for years as the new “King of Home Theater Projection”.

The VPL-GTZ380 will be available in January of 2021. I cannot wait to get my hands on a sample to test out its potential.

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