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Hello Dolby, Goodbye CRT
RM-4200 Sets New Standard in Reference Monitors
by Joseph Herman
If you’re an editor, compositor or effects artist, the ability to accurately monitor the colors in your images is important. If you are a colorist, then a reliable reference monitor is the most important tool you can possess.
For years, many post-production professionals have remarked that LED flat-panel monitors could not compete with CRT displays for picture quality and fidelity. Not any longer.
Recently, Dolby’s plush New York offices presented a personal demo of the PRM-4200, which is the most impressive professional reference monitor this writer has ever seen. It is capable of reproducing an incredible picture, and is being aptly billed as the first monitor to outperform a CRT.
The Dolby PRM-4200, a flat-screen reference monitor like no other.
In a well-appointed screening room, several demo sequences played on the monitor (from an attached Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Shuttle). The videos included sequences of vintage airplanes and a music video that featured dancers and classic cars. There was also some amazing footage of daredevil skydivers dropped by helicopter into a breathtaking, surrealistic snowy landscape and performing death-defying maneuvers. It was truly something to see.
In each sequence, the PRM-4200 provided images that were stunningly beautiful. Colors were vivid, blacks were exceptionally deep and the video was reproduced with startling detail. The picture even held up well when viewed from various angles. It was immediately apparent that this monitor was groundbreaking, capable of displaying a level of details in the darks and highlights that other monitors typically clip.
At a price tag of $40,000, the 42-inch PRM-4200’s quality better be good. If you’re a professional colorist working at a high-end post facility, it’s well worth the price. Dolby hopes you’ll agree and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if this monitor becomes the industry standard for professional reference monitors.
It is imperative that you are able to see the full dynamic range in your images and the PRM-4200 delivers the goods. You can work in all HD-SDI color spaces, including 100 percent of DCI P3, the digital cinema specification gamut, as well as Rec. 709, SMPTE C and EBU.
It’s also easy to load different 1D and 3D look-up tables (LUTs) into the monitor so you can easily display pre-defined looks or pre-visualized dailies. LUTs also help you emulate the full gamut and contrast ratio of film, as well as to profile different digital cameras.
The PRM-4200 also supports 10-bit video formats and emerging 12-bit formats so you can be sure that colors won’t be dithered or gamuts constrained.
With the current interest in high frame rates, it’s also important to know that the PRM-4200 supports 48 and 60 frames per second. If those high frame rates ever catch on, this monitor is ready for it.
Dolby also provides a new field calibration service by trained Dolby staff, which, aside from protecting the value of the monitor investment, ensures that clients always have the optimum viewing experience without having to purchase expensive calibration equipment. The service also makes it easy to keep multiple units matched precisely.
The PRM-4200 also comes with an intuitive remote control for all of its features and functions. It includes R, G and B gain controls and the ability to store and select customized configurations and presets at the push of a button. Another nice thing about the remote control is that it has an onboard USB port for easy importing of configurations, pre-sets, LUTs and firmware updates.
Dolby’s PRM-4200 is being used in top post houses around the world from New York to New Zealand. It’s also been used on high-profile projects such as the 4K re-mastering of Apocalypse Now, as well as color correction for the theatrical release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
If you are involved with the creation of color-critical work for feature films, television programs, documentaries or commercials — and especially if you are working in DCI P3 — then this truly impressive monitor may be just what you need to get the job done.