Multiple 4K HDR Options Begin To Emerge
Royal Philips’ Frederic Guillanneuf and Technicolor’s Manuele Wahl announce the Technicolor/Philips hybrid HDR System at CES 2016.
Along with the Ultra HD Alliance’s CES announcement of specifications defining what the ranges for high dynamic range should be for 4K Ultra HDTVs, progress was being made by developers of alternative and “voluntary” HDR standards to support at least some of those next generation sets.
Shortly after the UHDA released their specifications, Technicolor and Royal Philips revealed an agreement to merge their ongoing HDR delivery roadmaps, including content creation tools, encoding and decoding software and implementation support.
Also at the show, several TV manufacturers, including LG Electronics, announced that some of their 2016 4K Ultra HD sets will join Vizio in providing support for Dolby Vision HDR content. Going one better, most of those newcomers said they will be supporting Dolby Vision in addition to the baseline HDR 10 format called for by the UHDA and Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc standards.
Read more on the CES HDR developments after the jump:
For the foreseeable future, HDR will be one of the key selling points for better quality 4K Ultra HDTV sets. This picture enhancement produces brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays, delivering an image that comes much closer to what the human eye actually sees than conventional videos.
Dolby Labs wasted little time at CES 2016 in signing on with new licensees for its Dolby Vision HDR solutions. LG Electronics kicked off the show’s announcements by revealing that its 2016 OLED TVs and the company’s flagship Super UHD LED LCD TVs will feature Dolby Vision technology support this year. And unlike the Vizio Reference Series 4K UHD TVs that were the first to launch with the Dolby Vision platform, LG’s TVs will also support the baseline HDR 10 format that is part of the Ultra HD Alliance and Ultra HD Blu-ray specifications.
Later in the show, Chinese TV manufacturer TCL and Japanese manufacturer Funai (U.S. Philips TVs) revealed that they will each have premium 4K UHD TVs that will be compatible with Dolby Vision and HDR 10 metadata.
Dolby Vision offers several HDR formats with various levels of support for HDR-only material or HDR material that is also backward compatible with SDR TVs. TVs with the Dolby Vision VS10 system will play back a variety of HDR content types, including Dolby Vision single-layer and dual-layer streams, HDR 10 from UHD Blu-ray, and UHD Alliance-certified HDR content. The VS10 Dolby Vision option gives device manufacturers a universal solution that combines the ability to play back Dolby Vision content as well as other HDR profiles based on the SMPTE BT 2084 standard for Electro Optical Transfer Function (EOTF), which is a process for translating code into visible light. TV manufacturers integrating VS10 have the option to program their devices to support the various HDR profiles they require.
Dolby assured that consumers will have access to UHD Dolby Vision mastered content via digital retailers and leading Internet TV network, Netflix.
Dolby Vision supporting LG models for 2016 include: LG’s 2016 OLED TVs, including 77-, 65-, and 55-inch 4K HDR OLED TV sets (models 77/65 G6 LG Signature OLED TV and 65/55 E6) and LG’s UH9500, UH8500 and UH7700 Super UHD TVs.
TCL will offer Dolby Vision HDR support in its 65-inch X1 4K Ultra HD TVs, which are part of the company’s premium QUHD model tier. The 65-inch X1 will be the first of the X1 series models to launch in the U.S. market later this year. The TCL X1 series features models equipped with 4K Ultra HD LED LCD panels powered by quantum dot technology, and are said to output up to 1,000 nits of peak brightness from a direct-lit LED array with 288 local dimming zones.
Two Philips-branded TVs marketed by Philips-brand licensee P&F USA under its 8600 series – the 55-inch 55PFL8601/F7 and 65-inch 65PFL8601/F7 — will feature Dolby Vision HDR technology and playback Open HDR 10 content as well. The sets will feature back-lit local dimming to boost dynamic range.
Meanwhile, Dolby said that as many as 50 Dolby Vision movies will be available this year between theatrical and streaming releases. All major Hollywood studios support Dolby Vision for cinema releases; and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios have already announced a commitment to deliver Dolby Vision content for home distribution.
Most recently announced HDR-compatible TVs for 2016 will support SMPTE BT 2084/2086 combined with the baseline HDR 10 format, and some will also add support for Dolby Vision HDR standards. Various OTT streaming services support HDR 10 in 4K HDR movies and TV programs, while Vudu (and soon Netflix) adds a selection of movies carrying Dolby Vision HDR.
Meanwhile, the merger of the Technicolor and Philips HDR solutions is intended primarily to boost adoption of HDR by over-the-top (OTT) video-streaming services and pay-TV providers. Representatives from both companies said they will “merge the best parts” of the two systems into a finished hybrid that should be ready for demonstration at the NAB 2016 show. Commercial deployments in chip form are expected by the end of the year.
Frederic Guillanneuf, Royal Philips HDR business development head, said this collaboration will enable HDR delivery with full backwards compatibility to standard dynamic range displays using a single layer, instead of a dual metadata layer as the Dolby Vision solution requires for backwards compatibility. The Technicolor/Philips team expects that their combined solution will simplify HDR deployments for distributors who will be able to send one layer in a signal to customers instead of the bulkier two-layer solution.
Using a single video stream playable on all 4K HDR TVs and standard dynamic range (SDR) 4K TVs will put less burden and cost on service providers to maintain infrastructure for both an HDR and SDR stream, Technicolor/Philips representatives said.
The companies’ technology will be compatible with HDR TVs that incorporate the BT 2086 metadata and BT 2084 EOTF (Electro-Optical Transfer Function) HDR standards, both of which are used in HDR TVs that meet the CTA’s definition of HDR compatibility. To take advantage of the HDR information a TV will have to incorporate a special decoder for the Technicolor/Philips system, executives told us.
Plans are for Technicolor, with its extensive licensing and content industry associations, to take the lead role in marketing and implementing its Technicolor/Philips hybrid solution. The solution will become a key element in Technicolor’s branded technologies package for consumer electronic devices. Manufacturers and content producers/distributors can contact Manuele Wahl, Technicolor Technology and Trademark Licensing senior VP for further information and licensing terms.
By Greg Tarr
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