Technicolor HDR Looks For Recognition As Viable HDR Standard
Frédéric Guillanneuf, Head of HDR Business Development at Royal Philips Electronics N.V., demonstrates Technicolor HDR on Philips TV screens in the Funai booth at CES 2018.
Although Dolby Vision, HLG and HDR10+ were vigorously championed as the latest and greatest platforms for high dynamic range (HDR) on new 4K Ultra HDTV sets by various participating television partners attending CES 2017, the lesser-known platform Technicolor HDR was quietly making news of its own.
As this is posted, the HDR platform was being championed by Technicolor and Royal Philips NV for selection as a candidate standard to be part of the complete standard for the next-generation ATSC 3.0 over-the-air broadcasting system.
Technicolor HDR is the common name of the joint HDR format that merges together elements of separate proposals developed by Philips and Technicolor. Proponents of the combined system, which is also known as SL-HDR1, have been doing most of their proselytizing to TV broadcasters, pay-TV service providers and Hollywood studios.
But that’s not because the format is any less “dynamic” on TV screens than either the Dolby Vision or HDR10+ platforms it is competing against. All three HDR profiles use dynamic metadata which allows color grading on a scene-by-scene or shot-by-shot basis, for more realistic overall look than is seen in standard dynamic range (SDR) or even the static metadata HDR10 HDR profile.
As of December, Technicolor HDR, through portions of Philips’ HDR proposal merged into the combined platform, has become one of the three optional HDR formats in the Ultra HD Blu-ray specification. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are the other ones, while HDR10 is the lone mandatory HDR format.
Technicolor HDR is also a format supported in select 2017 and 2018 LG 4K OLED TVs and Super UHD LED-LCD TVs, and will be added to select Philips-branded 4K Ultra HDTVs in North America in 2019.
Technicolor and Philips continue to work with the world’s other Philips-brand TV licensee, TPV, to have those sets add the Technicolor HDR profile, Frédéric Guillanneuf, Head of HDR Business Development at Royal Philips Electronics N.V., told us at CES 2018. The China-based TV maker produces and markets OLED and LED-LCD TV sets to most of the world outside of North America under the Philips trademark.
Read more about the advancement of the Technicolor HDR profile after the jump:
Royal Philips’ Guillanneuf said that once ratified as a part of the final ATSC 3.0 standard, Techicolor will be ready to start a major rollout.
“We have TV operators in line. We have TV makers in line. We have broadcasters in line as well,” he said.
Thus far, the Technicolor HDR initiative has concentrated much of its promotional energy in Asia, Europ and the United States, but Guillanneuf said efforts are “now ready to really go global in rolling this out.”
“The chief benefit is that this presents a low cost of adoption for broadcasters and pay-TV operators compared to alternative HDR platforms,” Guillanneuf said. “The pay-TV operators are able to address, with one stream, different types of displays (both HDR and SDR) and with best-in-class quality using dynamic metadata. It also takes a very little amount of bandwidth while avoiding the need to simulcast multiple signals.”
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The Technicolor HDR system was devised to support multiple underlying platforms, including Perceptual Quantization (PQ) which is the basis for HDR10 and Dolby Vision; as well as HLG, S-Log-3 and others.
It can also be transmitted in several ways including backward compatible standard dynamic range (SDR). Guillanneuf explained that to do this requires “reconstruction of HDR,” so that both SDR and HDR data can be carried simultaneously in the same signal stream. Television sets with SDR displays or receivers attached to SDR screens will be able to ignore the HDR portion of the metadata and receive the stream in SDR.
“You also have another HDR flavor, which is HDR+ metadata,” Guillanneuf said. “In that case, we can have an HDR10 stream and add the metadata on top of it. The receiver will adapt to the kind of display that is connected to it, so if it is a set-top box, it will adjust the processing to the right level for the display. If it is a TV, it will know what level of peak luminance the set is able to display and will process everything to that peak luminance level.”
Importantly for ATSC 3.0, Technicolor HDR also has production technologies that can take an SDR stream and convert it into an HDR stream using intelligent tone mapping. This process allows for on-the-fly HDR that can be used for live broadcasting, without the need for post production color grading and other processes.
The on-the-fly HDR is an automatic system that is recongized by the industry are very, very high quality. It was developed with all of the know-how of Technicolor, which has made its name after a hundred years of color grading. This knowledge has been integrated inside this upconverter to produce a HDR stream of the highest level of quality.
As an automatic system, the broadcaster can use it directly, or by adjusting it manually, it can be used in post production work for television shows and movies.
With Hollywood studios, which the Technicolor/Philips HDR team considers content providers, content files are delivered to a distribution system, “and we provide our technology to the distribution technicians while ensuring that those engineers provide the best possible transmission of those movies. We try to address the transmission chain so that it produces the best level of quality and make we sure the studios are happy with the transmission of their content,” said Guillanneuf.
Meanwhile, Philips televisions throughout the world from various partners and brand licensees, are supporting several flavors of HDR, that so far hasn’t included Technicolor HDR. Guillanneuf said the companies are working steadily with both P&F USA (Funai) and TPV to see that the system finds its way to their products as soon as possible.
“It’s taken time, but we’ve built up successes, and we are building up to a roll out,” Guillanneuf said.
By Greg Tarr
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