High Dynamic Range (HDR)
, combined with a wider color gamut (WCG), is probably the
single most important and exciting advancement in picture quality in the last 10 to 15 years and single most important part of the new UHD (Ultra High Definition) standard, with the increase in resolution, from HD 2K (1080p) to UHD 4K (2160p), being much less important.
High Dynamic Range is far more noticeable (even on smaller screen sizes and from greater distances) than a simple increase in resolution.
“In essence, HDR is about brighter whites and deeper blacks, and more details in each end.”
It is about brighter more detailed “specular highlights” and darker blacks with more “shadow detail”.
UHD HDR is also about brighter, richer, more saturated colors. It is about more shades of color or Color Depth – from 10-bit to 12-bit color – and a wider color palette or Color Space – from DCI P3 (Digital Cinema Initiative) to Recommendation ITU-R BT.2020 (which, incidentally, also specifies both 4K and 8K resolutions and a higher 120Hz refresh rate).
“UHD HDR is about trying to reproduce the world around us as accurately, realistically, and detailed as possible on a display.”
But viewing HDR content, of course, requires an HDR capable Ultra HD TV or projector.
For a more in-depth description of HDR, click on the links below:
HDR (High Dynamic Range) on TVs explained
What is HDR for TVs, and why should you care?
HDR Content Distribution
Most of the Ultra HD HDR content currently available is only available through streaming media (primarily through TV-installed apps). And from the looks of things, streaming will continue being the most popular and widely available option for viewing UHD HDR content, at least for the foreseeable future.
One of the reasons for this is that our viewing habits have shifted from watching “scheduled programming” on weeknights to “binge-watching” on weekends. Media services have now adapted to our schedules, instead of the other way around. Plus, streaming is much less expensive and far more convenient than other options.
However, there are still a lot of other obstacles to overcome as well, such as internet download speeds (and data caps), network bottlenecks, old hardware along the data pipeline, multiple devices connected to your home network, and so on.
Additionally, the high bandwidth requirement of a 4K UHD feed, which is two to three times that of a 1080p HD feed, will require that the broadcast industry, in order to handle live broadcasts in 4K UHD, reorganizes its infrastructure and updates its hardware – something that requires not only a significant capital investment, but also time.
However, they will
get there eventually, probably sooner than later, especially where Satellite TV is concerned. Now, how many of those live broadcasts, if any, will actually include HDR content? Well that still remains to be seen.
Paul O’Donovan, principal research analyst at Gartner Inc., says, “I think satellite will explode with a wealth of 4K content very soon, around the globe. It’s not an issue of bandwidth or capacity, it’s more to do with adding or replacing equipment along the distribution channel. This is more expensive for cable operators and for network TV companies than it is for satellite pay-TV operators or Internet-delivery systems.”
Most Satellite TV content providers, such as DirecTV (see link below), as well as some Cable TV content providers, such as Comcast, will gradually and slowly start coming on board over the next few years.
DirecTV Ramps Up For the 4K Revolution
Why broadcast Ultra HD via satellite?
Japan's Cable TV to Start 4k Broadcasting
Pulling in a 4K/UHD HDR signal over-the-air (OTA) should
also be possible, but it will more than likely take a few more years for it to happen, if it ever happens at all.
There is a proposed standard that's currently in development (ATSC 3.0) that promises more efficient use of the broadcast spectrum, greater interactivity, UHD HDR video and better compatibility with mobile devices (See links below). However, since ATSC 3.0 isn’t backwards-compatible with the current ATSC tuners/receivers in today’s TV sets, it would require the purchase of a new TV.
High Dynamic Range Planned for ATSC 3.0
The World's First HDR UHD Live, Over-the-Air Broadcast
Ultra HD Blu-ray Players and DVDs
One thing that has both me, and many others on the forum, most excited about UHD HDR, is the soon to be released Ultra HD Blu-ray Player and discs (due to come out the first quarter of 2016).
Yes, they will probably be on the expensive side initially, and yes, they will be probably appeal mostly to a “niche” market. But UHD Blu-rays will offer noticeably superior picture quality to that of either steaming or broadcast media, or that of current Blu-rays.
The new format will allow for a wider colour gamut (WCG) and a higher bit rate, it will also support both high dynamic range (HDR) and higher frame rates (HFR). Ultra HD Blu-ray will also support the new object-based audio formats which include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Additionally, with an optional digital bridge feature, the specifications allow content purchases to be viewed by consumers across a range of in-home and mobile devices. The Ultra HD Blu-ray discs themselves have a capacity of 66GB and 100GB of data on dual and triple layer discs respectively.
The specification also mandates that all new Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be capable of playing back existing Full HD Blu-rays and SD DVDs, which means that you can still enjoy your current library of discs.
The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA)
has mandated that any Ultra HD Blu-ray disc always start from a generic (SMPTE BT 2084 standard) HDR10 base layer (which requires an HDMI 2.0a input) and, if the content provider so desires, a proprietary Dolby Vision layer can then ride on top of that.
Stated differently, all
Ultra HD Blu-rays will include basic HDR10 metadata while some
will add Dolby Vision HDR metadata that will ride on top of the basic layer.
Currently Available HDR Titles
To view a list of currently available HDR titles, check out this thread:
(Started and maintained by another forum member “ray0414”)
Master List of currently available 4k HDR titles, updated often
Please feel free to post any additional info you might want to share.
Any and all “related” comments or questions are welcomed.
You can talk about any news, updates, or other interesting info on the subject of UHD HDR TVs, DVDs, Blu-ray players, or available content (don’t forget to also visit the 4K HDR thread mentioned above).