The television industry’s Ultra HD Forum released this week Version 2.4 of its guidelines offering updated recommendations and specifications for over-the-top (OTT) distribution of Ultra HD content.

At the same time, The Forum said it has upgraded its UHD service tracker giving more attention online to Next Generation Audio (AC-4 and MPEG-H) and revealed plans to introduce a Watermarking Application Program Interface (API).

Ultra HD Forum is a multi-industry body founded in 2015 with the goal of providing consensus solutions to the obstacles faced in television distribution associated specifically with Ultra HD video technologies. The Ultra HD Forum’s scope covers standards related to high dynamic range, high frame rates, next generation audio, and wide color gamut. The open body lists members from the movie and television ecosystem, including content creators, content distributors, consumer electronics manufacturers, professional equipment manufacturers and technology companies.

It has offices in Fremont, CA, although much of its work has involved countries in Europe, Asia and other regions, where the DVB and DVB-T2 broadcast platforms are predominantly used. The Forum’s Guidelines issued in 2016 offer reference information for the television industry in launching and enhancing UHD services.

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The Forum said its Guidelines are comprised of a “foundation layer” identifying readily available, mature technologies, and an “enhancement layer,” addressing newer technologies. To date, the Guidelines have been developed with the input of more than 35 Forum member companies.

Version 2.4 of Forum’s Fall 2020 Guidelines offer substantial updates in objective measurement and analysis of the quality of HDR Tone Mapping and UHD live event distribution via OTT platforms.

Included in the “Additions Layer” of the document are use of dual-layer HDR technologies; Dynamic HDR Metadata systems (Dolby Vision, SL-HDR1 & SL-HDR2); high frame rates (100/120 FPS); Next Generation Audio (Dolby AC-4 Audio & MPEG-H Audio) and Content Aware Encoding.

This includes implementation of the ITU-R BT.2124 standard providing an “objective metric for the assessment of the potential visibility of color differences in television”, with insight into the creation and distribution of live content, produced in UHD with HDR and Wide Color and then distributed via the Internet (OTT). The document is said to also provide “a major update of annexes including a new one on DVB-T2.”

Also announced was a new Service Tracker identifying 190 commercial consumer-facing and B2B UHD television service offerings, with user information gathered from over three billion subscriptions around the world.

The Forum is also at work on developing a Watermarking API for Encoder Integration before the end of 2020. This includes a generic C-language API enabling the interface of a transcoder and a watermark pre-processor (WMP). The forthcoming API is designed to generate A/B variants for Adaptive Bitrate content for both base band and compressed forensic watermarking technologies. The API will be vendor-agnostic and targeted for use in the distribution of premium UHD content, the Forum stated.

The API generates so-called A/B variants for Adaptive Bitrate content for both baseband and compressed forensic watermarking technologies. The vendor-agnostic API will facilitate the distribution of premium UHD content, the Ultra HD Forum said.

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By Greg Tarr

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