Posted on November 3, 2015 in ATSC News
With streamed 4K content now including High Dynamic Range (HDR) capability and Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR coming soon, work is also underway to include HDR in the ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard. Alan Stein, Vice President of Research & Development at Technicolor, is Chairman of the S34-1 ad hoc group on video technology, which is addressing the addition of HDR functionality to ATSC 3.0. In an exclusive interview with THE STANDARD, Stein responds to questions about the current work of S34-1:
How do you describe High Dynamic Range to a layman?
HDR is the most detailed and realistic TV picture you’ve ever seen. Significantly brighter highlights, deeper blacks, and far more detail in the mid-tones, which means you have video which looks much more like real-life.
What are the Rec. 2020 specifications, which have been called “unapproachable”?
Rec.2020 is an ITU-R specification that covers many aspects of “Ultra HD” video, but it’s most well-known for specifying a color palette that goes far beyond what today’s HDTV can do (Rec.709). For many, Rec.2020 is synonymous with the term “Wide Color Gamut”.
Currently the full Rec.2020 color gamut can only be achieved with laser projectors in the cinema, but home TV devices are catching up fast and by the year 2020 they may be able to show all of the Rec.2020 colors. In the interim, expect content to be created in the so-called “D65-P3” color gamut, which TVs are capable of displaying and is the current specification for digital cinema. Although not as wide as full Rec.2020, it does offer a significant improvement over the Rec.709 standard.
Where does HDR fit into the ATSC 3.0 standard?
ATSC’s video group has reached consensus on the use of the HEVC video codec, Main-10 profile, Main Tier. HDR solutions will need to be 10-bit and compatible with this specification, and will ultimately be part of the ATSC 3.0 video specification, allowing broadcasters to compete effectively with other distributors of HDR content.
Is there any coordination with HDR standards-setting being done by CEA or the UHD Alliance?
ATSC has exchanged information regarding HDR via liaisons with several standards-setting organizations. Many people are looking toward MPEG for leadership, as they have recently completed a “call for evidence” study to determine if there are technology solutions available which may be worth standardizing.
The UHD Alliance is setting a consumer quality bar to help consumers identify devices that are HDR-capable and have been certified to achieve a certain quality (which saves consumers needing to understand complex concepts like dynamic range and color gamuts). The first UHD Alliance-certified HDR devices are expected to be demonstrated at CES 2016.
Streamed HDR content is available, and HDR on Ultra HD Blu-ray is coming. But it seems like everyone is hoping that broadcasters adopt HDR standards. What are you hearing about that opinion?
Amazon has already launched open standard HEVC 10-bit streaming and it’s part of the new Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format as well. I would certainly agree that there’s huge interest in broadcast HDR. There are some particular challenges for broadcast HDR that are quite different than streaming or physical media, things like the live production environment, regional opt-outs and interstitial advertising both contribute to an environment that is quite different from offline-produced content.
That said, there is a real fear of fragmented HDR solutions entering the marketplace, which could confuse consumers and hurt adoption. It’s important that ATSC specify technologies that are adapted to our unique environment and can be deployed at scale across various devices when ATSC 3.0 launches.
Posted in ATSC News
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The Advanced Television Systems Committee, Inc., is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards and recommended practices for digital terrestrial broadcasting. ATSC member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. ATSC also develops digital terrestrial broadcasting implementation strategies and supports educational activities on ATSC standards.