Sola Digital Arts selects Sony HDR monitor for CGI production workflow

A leading Tokyo- and LA-based animation specialist has selected the PVM-X2400 24-inch 4K picture monitor to help speed the post-production process with a more dependable reproduction of HDR CGI content.

Manga cartoon on a monitor

How we helped

Challenge icon

Challenge

  • Achieving consistency in post
  • Sola Digital Arts required an upgraded picture monitoring solution to suit HDR production for Season 2 of CGI series “GHOST IN THE SHELL: SAC_2045”
  • Had previously encountered problems during mastering process through linear workflow with differing appearance of SDR and HDR footage
Solution icon

Solution

  • Sony 24-inch PVM Series HDR monitor
  • Sony PVM-X2400 24-inch 4K TRIMASTER high grade picture monitor used for critical evaluation of CGI-originated HDR pictures
Outcome icon

Outcome

  • Enabling speed, quality, and creativity
  • Errors in post-production process have been greatly reduced by having a HDR monitoring environment on the compositing side
  • PVM-X2400 helps Sola Digital Arts get director’s approval of CGI content faster, as they have greater confidence in their production quality
  • Sola Digital Arts can accurately simulate grading environment and correct errors before content is handed over to Q-tec

With the PVM-X2400 we're able to create compositing images knowing how it will be reproduced in HDR in post-production. This lets us concentrate on the production quality of the images themselves without worrying about the technical aspects.

Koya Takahashi
Computer Graphics Artist, Sola Digital Arts

Leading the way in CGI

With offices in Tokyo and Los Angeles, Sola Digital Arts is a leading computer animation studio focused on creating high-caliber CGI visuals for feature film and TV production clients. For production of the Season 2 of “GHOST IN THE SHELL: SAC_2045″—created in collaboration with anime studio Production I.G and distributed worldwide by Netflix—Sola sought to deliver their materials in OpenEXR files through a linear workflow to post-production. This has a wide range of tonal gradation that was considered ideal for HDR production.

Globe with blue dots connected by lights with a dark blue sky
Portrait image of the digital director for Ghost in the shell

Unexpected differences from the director's intention

While creating Season 1 of “GHOST IN THE SHELL: SAC_2045,” Sola Digital Arts and post production partner Q-tec Inc had experienced challenges while mastering CGI footage. Problems had been encountered, such as the unexpected differences in appearance from the director’s intention. While working on Season 2, teams started mastering after seeing finished HDR samples in advance.

Image: Koya Takahashi. CGI Artist, Sola Digital Arts Inc.

Revealing hard-to-see issues

“In post-production it’s difficult to mask and fix material in pieces, so it is best to fix the problem from the raw material,” States Q-tec Editor/Pipeline Coordinator Tetsuro Tsukada. “However, there were many cases where we couldn’t spot such problems until we monitored the PQ HDR signal.” To address these challenges, Sola Digital Arts realized that it needed a dependable HDR picture monitoring solution to ensure the quality and consistency of CGI-originated HDR images in the production environment.

Image: Tetsuro Tsukada, Q-tec Editor/Pipeline Coordinator.

Portrait image of Tetsuro Tsukada
Portrait image of Itsuro Sakakura

Producing better-looking HDR content

As work started on Season 2 of “GHOST IN THE SHELL: SAC_2045,” Sola Digital Arts installed Sony’s PVM-X2400 24-inch 4K HDR TRIMASTER high-grade picture monitor. “Video technology is advancing day by day, and we wanted to be able to create HDR as well,” states Itsuro Sasakura, Sola Digital Arts Design Engineer. “I want to challenge myself to do something new each day, and the new PVM-X2400 has made that possible.”

Image: Itsuro Sasakura, Sola Digital Arts Design Engineer.

Supporting the director's creative intention

“With the PVM-X2400, I can get the director’s OK much faster,” confirms Sola Digital Arts CGI Director Masaru Matsumoto. “With the introduction of the PVM-X2400, the monitoring environment has been improved, and we are now able to reproduce HDR images in production just as we intended in compositing work,” adds Koya Takahashi, Computer Graphics Artist, Sola Digital Arts. “This allows us to concentrate on the production quality of the images themselves without worrying about the technical aspects, which is very helpful.”

Image: Masaru Matsumoto, Sola Digital Arts CGI Director.

Portrait image of Koya Takashi

A new HDR monitoring environment

Sola Digital Arts wanted to take on the challenge of exchanging materials in a linear color space, and for Season 2 consulted Q-tec on an HDR workflow based around delivery of OpenEXR files. Q-tec recommended Sony’s new PVM-X2400 to Sola, noting its suitability as a preview monitor in conjunction with the BVM-HX310 master monitor. The new monitor’s attractive price was appealing, as well as richer features than its predecessor including a color calibration function. Before work started, care was taken to ensure that color management systems were matched to avoid discrepancies between DaVinci Resolve, Nuke, and Rio editing applications.

Hand holding an apple with watermelons on the floor
Futuristic man facing a blue robot outside

Unexpected differences from the director's intention

“When motion graphics or content created with After Effects plug-ins were added, colors went wrong or images appeared very saturated in PQ HDR.

“Nothing appeared amiss when Sola checked on an SDR monitor, but when we monitored in HDR, the letters overlaid on the apple turned red. Their intention was to have white letters on the apple, but actually a higher red value out of RGB appeared. What Sola originally thought was saturated white had actually colored in linear space.

Sola had originally given the main character flat skin tones under the strong sunlight, but it turned out to have a great luminosity on it. What they’d intended to hide in the highlights was unexpectedly visible.

There were a lot of results that we couldn’t foresee before monitoring in PQ signals, so there were discrepancies between SDR and HDR in Season 1.”

Monitoring Environment

Diagram of Monitoring environment workflow.

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