HDR10+ Looks For Greater Availability In Content, Hardware
The HDR10+ high dynamic range (HDR) profile based on dynamic metadata is moving steadily toward more mainstream support by content producers, distributors and consumer electronics manufacturers, a spokesman for Samsung’s HDR10+ program recently told an audience attending an advanced display summit in Hollywood.
Bill Mandel, industry relations VP for Samsung Research and program manager for HDR10+ for Samsung Electronics, told the Insight Media QLED & Advanced Display Technology Summit, sponsored by Samsung Electronics last month, that Samsung’s royalty-free dynamic metadata-based HDR profile that allows color grading on a scene-by-scene basis is now being supported by certification programs, and new editing and distribution tools are available to encourage widespread adoption.
The executive from Samsung, which is the primary developer of the format in the HDR10+ Technology LLC along with 20th Century Fox and Panasonic, pointed out that HDR10+ support is coming to devices including Ultra HD Blu-ray players – Panasonic has mentioned availability of its first supporting model – as well as Samsung 4K Ultra HD televisions and other devices.
In addition, Amazon has been offering movies and television programs throughout its Prime Library in HDR10+ for the past 10 months.
Advances are coming on the content production and distribution end of the business. The HDR10+ Technology LLC, which administers a new certification and testing program for HDR10+ products, is starting to make two command line tools for metadata creation available to content producers.
The normal way to add metadata, Mandel explained, is to use a professional system like Color Front, which will first generate a JSONs (a web protocol for a key-value-type text file) and in steps 2 and 3, which are optional, allow previewing what the tone-mapping might look like on a TV in order to adjust the look of the scenes as needed. The JSON could then be added to an HEVC encoded stream to go out to the customer.
For OTT distribution services that have already created a lot of HEVC codes for various content, another command line tool allows writing a JSON for input into an existing HEVC file. Thereby eliminating the need to transcode the entire film or video.
In addition to those tools, Mandel said HDR10+ tools are ready for mastering on a system like Resolve or Color Front for post-production. There is a very straight forward path to upgrading HDR10 content so that anyone who already has produced content in the HDR10 profile can fairly painlessly upgrade to HDR10+, Mandel said.
Samsung has said that all of its 2017 and 2018 4K Ultra HDTV models will support content now carrying the HDR profile in the Amazon Prime title library. Panasonic is also marketing an advance Ultra HD Blu-ray player supporting HDR10+ this year.
The first HDR10+ enabled Ultra HD Blu-ray discs have not appeared in the market yet but will be coming soon.
HDR10+ was developed as a rival to Dolby’s Dolby Vision HDR profile, which also support an HDR profile based on dynamic metadata enabling grading programs for a wider range of color and brightness levels on a scene by scene, rather than grading HDR at one set level for entire program, as the baseline HDR10 profile commonly distributed today does. However, the Dolby Vision profile is proprietary and imposes royalty fees on equipment manufacturers and content producers.
The HDR10+ profile requires annual certification fees for logo-carrying approved devices, but no per-device royalties.
HDR has been around since 2015. The HDR Electro Optical Transfer Function (EOTF) that HDR10, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are based on is called Perceptual Quantizer (PQ).
PQ is a SMPTE Standard (2084) for HDR which many of the studios worked on with MPEG back in 2014. It was released for baseline profile distribution with the HDR10 moniker, which is a term that came out of Ultra Violet program when that body was setting up streaming standards for HDR.
Mandel said HDR10+ adds enhancement and realism to the baseline static metadata HDR10 HDR profile. This also includes adding scene-specific image information which allows TVs of a wide range of ability levels to better handle the HDR10 material across a wider range of displays.
Premium levels of brightness, black level, and color gamut have been defined for HDR in the best TVs by the Ultra HD Alliance since 2015. This standard includes the use of the B.T.2020 color container specified for Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, support for 90% or more of the DCI-P3 color gamut in 4K televisions as well as minimum peak luminance levels starting at 540 nits for OLED TVs and 1000 nits for LCDs, according to Ultra HD Alliance Premium certification standards.
Not every TV is qualified to receive Ultra HD Alliance premium certification but many TVs, including all Samsung 4K TVs, can support HDR already and HDR10+ allows them to do a better job handling the image information across varying display capabilities, Mandel explained.
HDR10+ with dynamic tone mapping allows grading on a scene-by-scene basis. This provides creative control over how each scene looks through tone mapping to achieve desired results with minimal clipping in the image. Where tone mapping is not required, it is turned off. So, for example, if a dark scene only goes to 100 nits, which every TV should be able to do, no tone mapping is performed.
Mandel explained that shutting off tone mapping in dynamic metadata systems is one reason why the enhancements of in the HDR profiles are sometimes hard to discern.
If a scene requires more than a TV is designed to achieve, the set is going to make adaptations, and having statistics on the image data available through the HDR10+ profile produces a more accurate image than one produced by a television forced to guess.
Mandel said that despite the existence of a half dozen different HDR profiles, all will co-exist through the use of Extended Display Information Data (EDID) technology that will let HDR10+ enabled players, televisions and even AV receivers communicate back and forth. That way HDR10+ info frame data can be delivered or withheld by the player if the display device or receiver are not compatible. Additionally, the devices might send a pop up asking the user which form of HDR is preferred when more than one is present.
That way all of the different systems can co-exist without conflicts.
A source device like a Blu-ray player or an over-the-top (OTT) set-top box will need to be able to generate the Vendor Specific Info Frame (VSIF) data. That will have to be programmed into the firmware to address sending the message out using a protocol that has been there since HDMI 1.4, but that is not saying it is HDMI 1.4 compatible because HDMI 2.0a inputs are required to send HDR and B.T.2020 flags, etc.
For a TV, the display has to be able to recognize that the VSIF is coming through the HDMI EDID. The HDMI flag needs to be able to say, “Yes, I understand.”
Mandel said that every component in the chain, from the source to the AV receiver to the display, will require some sort of firmware update to handle HDR10.
Mandel said Samsung doesn’t see this as a huge impediment to success.
“The growth rate of 4K Ultra HDTV sets year over year is geometric. Each year it’s more and more,” said Mandel. “This year we’ve said we are committed to upgrading the 2017 TVs to this protocol. We are already running the Amazon protocol. So the 2017 and 2018 Samsung 4K TV models are already compatible with Amazon HDR10+, and we just started adding the VSIF mechanism to those.”
By Greg Tarr
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