Two Great HDR Demo Scenes
Darkest Hour, “We are at war!”
(length: 2 minutes 31 seconds)
Darkest Hour details the events leading up to the famed World War II battle of Dunkirk (captured in Christopher Nolan’s film of the same name), focusing on Winston Churchill—portrayed terrifically here in an Oscar-winning performance by Gary Oldman—becoming Britain’s new wartime Prime Minister. What this film lacks in Dunkirk’s action, it makes up for in terrific acting and rich, fine detail sourced from a true 4K digital intermediate that displays gorgeous black levels throughout.
This scene beautifully demonstrates the advantages of high dynamic range content played back on a Strato. Notice the bright sunlight streaming into the meeting chamber and even illuminating the white paper in people’s hands—but this doesn’t sacrifice any of the deep blacks present throughout the scene.
When the camera pans to floor level, notice the bright rays of sun shining through the upper left corner of the screen, but the people remain shrouded in darkness in the lower left corner. As the camera pushes in towards the table, you can see fabulous detail on the golden scepter. Notice the pattern and wool texture detail on the speaker’s three-piece suit, with the charcoal grey-on-grey detail of the suit clearly visible.
Finally, at the very end of the scene, notice how you can actually read “Winston Churchill” on the name plaque on the bench. That is some ultra-fine 4K detail!
Darkest Hour, “Seeking Help from President Roosevelt”
(length: 3 minutes 34 seconds)
This scene contains everything that’s terrific about this film: Ultra-deep black levels, terrific fine detail, and high dynamic range.
As the scene begins, notice the texture on the wall behind Churchill. As he leans into the camera, you can see every line, whisker, wrinkle, and stray eyebrow hair on his face. The detail is amazing—and a testament to the makeup department on this film! As Churchill rests the phone on his thigh, we get a closeup of his trousers, and the detail in this transfer shows you every fiber in the texture of the wool.
But the best part is at the end, when the camera cuts back “out” of the room to show Churchill sitting in the chair. This shot beautifully illustrates the strengths of an OLED or high-end multi-zone local-dimming display’s ability to create a bright image in the middle of the screen while keeping the rest of the picture completely black.
There’s a single, bright lamp almost exactly in the middle of the screen creating a lit rectangle of action, surrounded by complete blackness. A great display will keep the entire area outside the room pitch black without any light bleed or milky grey. If you’ve been looking for a demo that shows off the strengths of your higher-end displays, this should do the trick.