4K augmenting HDR standards are going to be here by the end of 2015 and it might just be awesome
Stephan Jukic – March 27, 2015
In the forward drive to revolutionize TV display vibrancy in ways that make it into something dramatically better than any TV before, color and brightness are two of the key battlefields that need to be conquered, in addition to ultra HD TV resolution itself.
And the good news for both color and brightness is that a solid high dynamic range standard could emerge as early as the summer according to the BBC. If this is true, the HDR technology a lot of TV makers and broadcasters are waiting for could move forward much better very soon.
HDR technology heavily expands the range of darkness and light between the two extremes on TV images and while already developed, is not yet standardized across the board for all TVs and content transmission systems (which will carry HDR optimized content to HDR equipped TVs when all this develops fully).
Currently, there is a serious move being made to get this kind of across-the-board standardization moving and recent meetings such as those held by ITU just over two weeks ago have put to consideration the four main proposals for High Dynamic Range standards so that one can be selected by the end of 2015 if not sooner.
According to Richard Salmon, head of innovations and standards at BBC R&D, “Hopefully by middle of this year we will have standards set in the ITU for HDR”. This was one of the comment she delivered at a recent SES organized event on Ultra HD technology in London.
The current four main proposals from HDR come to us courtesy of Dolby, Japan’s NHK, Philips and the BBC itself. So far, Hollywood studios are showing a preference for the U.S-based Dolby HDR standard proposal but one of its essential characteristics is a requirement for metadata from end-to-end for the sake of defining brightness accurately and precisely.
On the other hand, the Japanese state broadcaster NHK and the UK’s BBC are taking a similar end-to-end approach to gamma curve while Philips proposal is aimed at constant luminance despite its not being backward compatible, though it was described as being a very interesting and elegant proposal.
One other possibility for the end or middle of the year is that we will see two widespread standards dominate. One of these would be for cinema content and the other for television content. This result could emerge simply because, while not incompatible in any technical way, the two display mediums have very different core needs in certain ways.
HDR as a whole ties into a larger dispute that exists about what the essentials of a really profound and unique ultra HD experience are. Aside from the much larger resolution created by 3840 x 2160 pixels, there is a lot more which can be invested in the TV and cinema displays of the coming year, in terms of HDR, wider color gamuts, superior UHD technology (“better pixels”) and also the addition of much faster frame rates for smoother motion. These technologies are what will make the major difference between the phase 1 grade of 4K we’re mostly seeing now and the phase 2 4K technology of 6 to 12 months from now.
HDR itself is known to be crucial because while UHD is only easy to note from certain distances and depending on screen size, the higher contrasts of HDR are immediately visible to any viewer on any TV screen size from any distance at all. In basic terms, a lot of broadcasters and content studios are f the idea that a metaphorical ounce of HDR contrast augmentation is worth a whole pile of pixels.
As for color gamuts, one of the other pillars of phase 2 4K displays, these two are extremely crucial and particularly so when combined with the sharper contrasts of HDR. However, expanding gamut is challenging and moving TVs from their currently common 8-bits to a much larger 10 and 12-bit color gamut that complies with Rec-2020 (the jump from 8 to 10 or 12 is exponential and while 8-bit color provides 256 potential shades of a given color, it’s 10-bit version expands the potential shades to 1023) is something that only a couple of TV manufacturers have done.
Finally, another benefit of HDR that’s worth mentioning is its lack of a compression penalty. While higher resolution and more frame rates mean bigger bandwidth costs, HDR technology can be implemented without requiring more data transfer capacity. This means that aside from standardization and technical perfection, implementing HDR will be much easier than implementing 4K resolution. HDR could even be added to regular HD content if HDTVs are built to display it.
Story by 4k.com