Dolby Laboratories and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) said Thursday that they have reached an agreement to use the new Dolby Vision mastering process for 4K Ultra HD content titles to be delivered by a variety of home entertainment distribution partners.

The Dolby Vision mastering process will make possible the delivery of multiple high dynamic range (HDR) formats, including the baseline SMPTE BT.2084 and 2086 HDR standards supported by the CEA definition for 4K Ultra HD HDR TVs and the next-generation Ultra HD Blu-ray spec.

The agreement does not, however, include support for the separate Dolby Vision HDR standard, which has been announced for support by Warner Home Video, Vudu and Vizio’s forthcoming Reference Series TVs, sources said.

High-dynamic range (HDR) offers a wider range of contrast, brightness and detail for more realistic images than are possible on non-HDR 4K and Full HDTVs today.

The Dolby Vision system includes a range of end-to-end production and mastering techniques as well as a format for single and dual-layer HDR. The Dolby Vision single and dual-layer HDR component of the system was not included in the recent agreement with Sony Pictures at this time, sources said. The agreement covers only the Dolby Vision mastering processes.

The Dolby Vision HDR system is offered for “voluntary” support by manufacturers of forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray players. It will require an HDR-ready 4K Ultra HDTV equipped to read and display the special Dolby Vision HDR metadata.

More on the Sony Pictures/Dolby Vision announcement after the jump:

Similarly, Sony Electronics, the sister company of Sony Pictures that manufacturers TVs and Blu-ray Disc players, has not yet announced support for Dolby Vision HDR in its XBR x940C or x930c series TVs.

The electronics company responded to HD Guru’s requests for comment on the Dolby Vision/Sony Pictures announcement late Thursday saying only that: “Sony Electronics’ HDR compatible TVs will support the CEA’s HDR format. We have not yet announced exact timing for the HDR network update.”

So far, Sony is selling two XBR-series 4K Ultra HD sets that will support baseline HDR formats BT2084 and BT2086 with a forthcoming firmware update (addressed in the CEA’s 4K Ultra HD HDR compatible TV definitions and in the Ultra HD Blu-ray spec).

The baseline HDR formats are the only ones considered “mandatory” in the new Ultra HD Blu-ray specifications. In addition to Dolby Vision and the baseline HDR specifications, other voluntary formats for HDR are also vying for adoption by hardware makers and content producers, including one proposed by Philips.

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So far, only Vizio has announced plans to support Dolby Vision HDR in a forthcoming line of 4K Ultra HDTVs known as its Reference Series.

Previously, Warner Home Entertainment has also announced plans to release a selection of 4K Ultra HDTV titles encoded with Dolby Vision HDR for distribution over streaming movie service Vudu.

According to the statement from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) and Dolby, “Dolby Vision for home entertainment platforms marks a revolutionary step forward for enthusiasts and content channels worldwide.”

Dolby said its Dolby Vision system will bring “the next wave of innovative entertainment to consumers via next generation physical disc and digital distribution platforms.”

“We continue to be enthusiastic about the growing consumer appetite for next-generation 4K Ultra HD content. With Dolby Vision imaging technology, we can now master our movies with the highest-quality visual experience for distribution to consumers’ homes,” said Richard Berger, SPHE worldwide digital strategy and advanced platforms senior VP.

By Greg Tarr


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