Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Open EXR: A D-SLR format for the future

A cutting edge format that could open up new doors to digital photography.

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was filmed using OpenEXR encoding technology.
Open EXR was CGI encoding technology pioneered by I.L.M (Industrial Light and Magic) in1999.
The first generation of Open EXR to be released to the general public VIA GPL happened in 2003, the second generation of EXR was released under the GPL in 2013.
If camera companies were to integrate this into the camera (assuming thats possible) it would be like integral HD-R imagery on steroids.

For every bit of color and light spectrum information that gets stored in a normal D-SLR raw image, EXR stores multiple bits for each of those.
At it's lowest bit rating (16 bits), EXR allows up to 30 stops of exposure. Version 2 allows multiple images to be embedded into one file, each with their own individual data intact as well as allowing each image or parts of that image to accessed independently. The EXR format can handle up to 128 bits.

I am currently looking for ways to integrate this into a photography work flow but it's very difficult because this was primarily targeted towards CGI and programmers. There are Nikon and Canon shooters out there experimenting with it but no hard documentation exists for effective implementation in still photography.

There are some plug-ins for post processing tools but they may not support the current generation of tools (PS CC, LR 5 etc).

Open EXR is currently being actively maintained by Pixar Studios, Weta Digital and Autodesk.

What it really needs is guidance and sponsorship from a key player in the digital photography sector to give it the fuel it needs to explode onto the scene.

So far this is the only PS plug-in I can find that may be up to date that allows EXR functionality in PS.