The first ever HDR broadcast was demoed on one of Samsung’s SUHD TVs and the result is beautiful

by on May 14, 2015

Stephan Jukic – May 14, 2015

HDR has been receiving a lot of buzz in the world of home video entertainment and with good reason. The technology, which will be encoded into the next generation of 4K content, promises contrast levels and visual realism on a scale never before offered.

What’s more, TV makers are reacting directly the impending arrival of HDR by making new classes of 4K UHD TVs that are built to show off the immediately visible improvements that high dynamic range offers.

Thus, it is with a fair bit of fanfare that Samsung, the dominant 4K TV maker on the market, teamed up with satellite broadcaster SES earlier in May to carry out what both companies claim is the world’s first ever DVB broadcast of a video sequence in full high dynamic range with ultra HD 4K resolution to a 4K TV.

The demonstration itself took place at the SES Industry Days conference in Luxembourg on May 7th and involved the use of BBC R&D’s Hybrid Gamma technology in the successful transmission of a beam of content from an SES Astra satellite in orbit to a Samsung SUHD HDR-capable 4K TV right there on the conference floor.

More than anthing, the demonstration offered a clear proof-of-concept for the idea of transmitting satellite based HDR 4K programming to UHD TVs anywhere in the world to customers and was a major coup for the two companies in this sense.

The test was one of the key milestones in the effective testing of HDR 4K content delivery via broadcast mediums and Thomas Wrede, VP of Reception Systems at SES claimed that the test shows how it’s possible to deliver high dynamic range video over DVB broadcast systems without losing any of the high quality of UHD TV service to existing phase 1 receivers for ultra HD.

In his own words, “High Dynamic Range will significantly enhance how consumers will experience television in the future”.

Other sources agreed with this sentiment, and John Adam, chief of business development and industrial affairs at Samsung Research UK also voiced praise for the test, claiming it to be a success.

Adam also stated that his company is delighted to participate in the demonstration and this this demonstration was a “monumental step forward” for broadcast delivery of 4K programming.

Basically, both Samsung and SES, among others, want to move forward as quickly as possible to get Phase 1 ultra HD service for TVs off the ground.

As for HDR standards, these have yet to be fully formalized and discussion is underway among a number of participants in the overall content market and within the recently formed UHD Alliance. However, while competing standard exist, the Hybrid Gamma HDR technology of BBC Research and development team is promising due to the fact that it allows simultaneous delivery of SDR and HDR content to non-HDR capable 4K TVs and to HDR-capable models respectively from the same stream of content.

HDR compared to normal 4K UHD content, the difference is obvious at any distance on any screen

HDR compared to normal 4K UHD content, the difference is obvious at any distance on any screen size

This entire experiment and all that it involves are major steps towards the now developing dream of 4K ultra HD broadcasting on a wide scale. The TV industry is in increasingly sharp competition with Internet TV/content providers like Netflix for the future of home entertainment and 4K content in its various forms (HDR being just one of them) is a major part of this battle among the content delivery companies.

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