Pixar's 'Inside Out' in Dolby Vision– rec.2020's killer app

Inside Out shows-off what Dolby Vision can do with the full rec.2020 palette.

I recently had the opportunity to watch Pixar's new film Inside Out in full Dolby Vision glory at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles and I was totally blown away by the experience. The film is not only a great, well told story, it's also an awesome example of how impactful color can be in story telling. In fact, it may just be the "killer app" that kicks the race to bring next generation video experiences with better pixels to consumers into high gear.

Inside Out is the second movie to be released in Dolby Vision– Disney's Tomorrowland from this spring was the first– and it's the first to really take full advantage of the rec.2020 color gamut capabilities of Dolby's new format. The result is spectacular.

The movie follows the story of Riley, an 11 year old girl whose family who moves to San Francisco for work. As her emotions work overtime to guide her through this life changing event, we're transported between two different worlds– the somewhat dull, gritty reality of life in a big city and the vibrant, colorful, contrasty world of the emotions in Riley's mind.

In this emotional world, characters like (my favorite) the Lewis Black-voiced Anger, pop off the screen with visceral intensity. They feel otherworldly and it's because we truly have not seen anything like it on a screen before now. Pixar chose to use nearly the entire palette of the enormous rec.2020 color gamut, creating characters with bright, saturated colors that are not found in the natural world. 

After all, how red is the red of an emotion like anger? There's no right answer of course (and it might just depend on how your day is going) but Pixar's choices here just feel right. It's a clever storytelling device and a great example of how saturated colors can be meaningful to a story.

What about the technology?

The in-theater experience of Dolby Vision is provided by some seriously futuristic hardware at the El Capitan. The projector, from Christie, generates about double the peak brightness of a standard theater at 4K resolution and essentially full rec.2020 color gamut coverage using dual RGB laser projection heads. These are hooked up to the projector via fiber optics.

While this kind of laser/fiber optic configuration is not really practical for home use today, HDR TVs using Quantum Dot technology that deliver similar specs should be available this year. These TVs will not only bring the same awesome experience- with 4K resolution, rec.2020 color and high contrast- you can see at the El Capitan today into the home, they'll also bring the picture closer to reality with around ten times the peak brightness.

If you've ever wondered what full rec.2020 looks like on screen (and if your read this blog you probably have!) go check out Inside Out at the nearest Dolby Vision-capable theater and stay tuned as rec.2020 capable TVs make their way to market.