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Embracing OTT and OTA opportunities at The Farm Group

What do Amazon, Netflix and The Farm Group all have in common? It’s more than just working on some of the biggest TV shows of today – they’re all early adopters of HDR.

“HDR post-production has come a long way since we started working on productions back in 2014,” said Colourist Dan Gill. “As with all new technology, the more you experience it, the better you understand it. Initial HDR productions were for Amazon and Netflix, but we’re now seeing content owners looking to futureproof their assets by archiving in UHD/HDR while also creating an HD/SDR broadcast deliverable.”

Liz Sunter

The Farm have done some futureproofing of their own, too. Over the last few years, they have remained at the forefront of HDR post-production by investing in the equipment needed to stay ahead of the competition, as Technical Director Adam Peat explains.


Betting the Farm on HDR

“We first tested Leader test instruments in 2016, when working with Hilversum-based video systems specialist United. United had integrated a Leader LV5490 into a flyaway production system used to check camera colorimetry and gamut on the UHD/HDR acquisition of a series for one of the leading SVOD platforms that we were collaborating on.

“We evaluated a number of test and measurement products and found the LV5490 to be highly suitable for HDR colour grading, so we initially purchased two units from Jigsaw24, and later a third was purchased for our Newman Street facility in London.”

So far, so straightforward. But increased demand for HDR content – these days, a growing number of programmes are acquired and post-produced in HDR before being archived and converted for traditional BT.709 SDR broadcast – combined with The Farm’s expansion plans in Manchester and Bristol to present a new challenge: how to equip the new facilities with UHD/HDR capabilities without breaking the bank.

"Jigsaw24 helped us get off to a great start in HDR post-production with the Leader LV5490. As we grew and our requirements changed, they were on hand to supply the LV7300 – and plenty of advice, besides."

“Fortunately, at exactly the same time, Leader announced the launch of its new Zen series of test and measurement products,” Adam said. “The Zen series now includes a half-rack-width 1U high rasteriser, the LV7300, which provides all the HDR functions we had become accustomed to in the LV5490 at a fraction of the price.

“This resulted in our purchasing via Jigsaw24 five Leader LV7300 units for Manchester, and four for Bristol. Three LV7300 units in each facility are fully equipped to support UHD and HDR production, with the others upgradable via software licences as and when business demands necessitate.”

For Colourist Dan, the benefits of using the Leader units have been huge. “The Leader LV5490 was the first scope I had seen which displayed in real time the video image in the CIE colour chart,” he said. “On the new LV7300, you can now adjust the gain on the waveform display so that a 1000 nits programme fills the screen and is not compressed into the lower two-thirds.

“The Leader scope is a very useful tool – I can only see it being used more and more as HDR productions increase.”


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