Based in the Chaoyang District of Beijing, China, Century Han Tang services the local broadcast community as a rental equipment provider and production company. On average, the production outfit creates and delivers more than 100 hours of content per month – a majority of which is programming for China Central Television (CCTV).
To ensure the highest quality picture for audiences, Century Han Tang prefers to work in 4K HDR. Even though its workflow varies from project to project, every production harnesses a range of equipment from AJA Video Systems, including the FS-HDR real-time HDR/SDR frame sync and converter; an HDR Image Analyzer HDR waveform, histogram and vectorscope monitoring tool; KUMO 3232-12G and KUMO 6464 routers; and Ki Pro Ultra Plus digital video recorders.
AJA FS-HDR gives Century Han Tang the flexibility required to handle a range of HDR standards and camera formats. For instance, in colour and gamut conversion for multi-view monitoring, they often use FS-HDR to down-convert HLG HDR content to the BT.709 colour space and adjust the brightness in the BT.709 environment.
Century Han Tang has also utilised the device to ensure all of its video footage matches the intended colour style when capturing multi-cam footage from ARRI AMIRA cameras in ARRI Log C. Working with 16-bit files, the Century Han Tang team uses a colour correction and non-linear editing programme to create a 33-point 3D LUT, then imports it into the FS-HDR. With the programme recorded in 1080p25 and four channels of processing accessible via a single FS-HDR, they can then feed all signals, including the PGM (clean and embedded) and multi-view, through the FS-HDR.
While working on-set for a recent 4K HDR production, the Century Han Tang also tapped FS-HDR to assist with monitoring needs. Unable to output a 4K HDR PGM for real-time monitoring on-set in the context of monitor budget limitations, the team used the FS-HDR to down-convert an UltraHD signal to 1080p and convert the colour space from HLG BT.2020 to 2.2 Gamma BT.709. After conversion, they used the FS-HDR’s proc amp controls to ensure the image’s look appeared similar to that of HLG HDR’s colour style for on-set monitoring.
“FS-HDR is our go-to for solving a range of bottlenecks that 4K HDR production introduces, and we love the incredibly low-latency it provides in the conversion process,” commented Nan Ma, CTO, Century Han Tang. “It’s a workhorse that we can depend on for everything – from colour space conversion and stylised colour adjustment to LUT import and submissions. The configurable embedded audio delay time for each channel is impressive, and having four channels of independent processing in one unit proves a huge advantage.”
For greater image consistency across the production chain, Century Han Tang also opts to connect an AJA HDR Image Analyzer to the PGM from its Ki Pro Ultra Plus digital video recorders and output the signal to a 4K monitor. The set-up allows its team to control the quality of the signal in real-time and easily configure the light ratio of the LED background and the foreground in the HDR environment. It also supports real-time exposure control with the lighting for the person in the foreground and allows the team to adjust the colour range of the whole image. Using HDR Image Analyzer, the team can also add 203 nits white level reference to the WFM and evaluate the luminance of the entire image.
“HDR Image Analyzer is one of the most important tools in our production toolbox. With an intuitive and user-friendly interface, it’s easy to deploy and maintain control over the picture quality we deliver,” said Ma. “With configurable layouts, a robust colour and exposure toolset, and so much other great functionality, it’s a versatile piece of gear that simplifies our day-to-day, which is a win, given the inherent complexity of 4K HDR production.”
As the demand for high-end production continues to surge alongside growing consumer appetite for 4K HDR content, Century Han Tan expects that its AJA gear will only grow more valuable. Ma concluded: “We’re constantly adding AJA gear to our equipment pool and leaning on it for productions because it’s stable, easy to use, and supports nearly every production format imaginable. When you buy AJA gear, you know it’s been tested and verified and will live up to rigorous production demands day in and day out.”