In Broadcast - November 2015 - 76


76

www.inbroadcast.com | Vol: 5 - Issue 11 | November 2015

InUSA

HDR: Is It Yet Another
Acronym To Sell UHD TV?
Contributing Editor & Columnist Michael Grotticelli examines High Dynamic
Range display technology...

T

he consumer electronics (CE)
industry, in tandem with lab
engineers looking for the next 'killer
app' that will stimulate consumers to
buy UHD televisions, has come up with a
new feature called High Dynamic Range
(HDR) that promises a "more realistic,
immersive" viewing experience.
Apparently it's not enough to have
four times the resolution of the best
high-definition TV, and expanded audio
capabilities. The CE industry wants
you to see a gleaming ray of sunlight
reflecting off a lake or a bright cloud
looking soft and cottony. Basically,
they tell us, any image your current
TV would display as a dull, muddy, or
bleached out image will look nuanced,
vibrant, and strikingly realistic in HDR.
Marketing Wave
Indeed, this new wave of marketing
isn't just about more pixels, but better
pixels. At its most basic, HDR delivers
greater contrast between light and
dark areas of a video image.
The term HDR comes from the
still photography world. As its name
implies, the feature increases the
dynamic range - the ratio of light to
dark - in your photographs. The result
should be a brighter, more detailed
picture, one that's much closer to what
your eye sees.
The idea with HD HDR video is
similar: It increases the range of
brightness in an image to boost the
contrast. However, HDR doesn't just
improve grayscale; CE experts say its
greater luminance range expands a
video image's colour palette as well.
While it's still a buzz word in the
industry at large (and not even a
thought in consumers' minds), LG,
Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, Sony,
and Vizio have all promised to bring
HDR-capable TVs to market this year
or early in 2016.
This does not mean that consumers
will run to buy them, as a number of
practical hurdles need to be overcome
before HDR becomes a household
acronym. Yet advocates say there's
no denying the difference in picture

quality will be significant.
HDR displays a much greater
aesthetic image when compared to
Standard Dynamic Range, which is
the current standard for TV shows
and movies. HDR is an expansion of
the difference between black and
white light outputs and is achieved by
minimising white-clip in the highlights
and black-crush in the shadows, which
reveal subtle nuances within the
image.
"When you put an HDR display
alongside a normal 4K display, the
bright stuff in the image is what makes
the difference," says Steve Mahrer,
Senior Technologist for Panasonic's
Systems Communications Company
of North America. "We're talking
about ten times the brightness only
on the highlights of a scene [e.g.,
gleaming ray of sunlight or that clearly
distinguishable puffy cloud]. Of all
recent things to cause a buzz, HDR is
the biggest one and easiest to explain
[to consumers]. Honestly, I think
viewers will see more benefits from
HDR than 4K."
Workflow Range
Given that the next 'Holy Grail'
for TV is a more immersive viewing
experience, HDR would seem to fit
right in. However, consumers will have
to buy TVs specifically compatible
with HDR's increased luminance
(current UHD models do not) and TV
broadcasters will have to replace their
2/3-inch sensor UHD cameras with new
models (ARRI's Alexa, Red's Dragon
sensor cameras, Panasonic's Varicam
35, and Sony's F65 and F55 CineAlta
cameras, to name a few) are capable
of capturing 14 stops of dynamic range
(current studio cameras shoot at about
10 stops); and perhaps new production
switchers as well.
The gamma curve available in
commonly used cameras today
typically provides about six to seven
stops of dynamic range. The best single
35mm sensor cameras on the market
give you about 1,000 steps, or ten
times the contrast ratio. So, viewers

HDR, the result should be a brighter, more detailed picture
that's much closer to what your eye naturally perceives

will not see a difference unless the TV
and camera are both natively handling
1,000 steps of dynamic range.
Gary Mandle, Senior Product
Manager, Professional Displays, Sony
Electronics' Professional Solutions
Americas, said that, the main benefit
of HDR is its ability to replicate the
most realistic and natural viewing
experience; that of human perception.
"While our eyes are fully equipped to
see very wide ranges of brightness and
colour, until recently, broadcast tools
had not been able to relate that same
experience to the viewer," Mandel
said. "HDR is making strides in both
the consumer and the professional
marketplaces. With the advent
of new professional camera and
display techniques and technology,
content can now be acquired as HDR,
manipulated using virtually the same
storage and colour management tools
and displayed using HDR TVs and
professional displays. From production
to transmission, reception and display,
HDR is now becoming a part of an endto-end workflow."
Standard Set
Another issue is the lack of standards
on how to capture, produce and
store HDR materials. All of the major
movie studios and high-end content
producers are eager to get HDR more
attention and thus sell more UHDTVs.
"The industry is still working
towards adopting HDR guidelines and
standards, which will ultimately help
HDR achieve widespread adoption,"
Mandle said. "This is important

because while it may not be apparent
initially to the average consumer, if
they are shown an image or scene in
Standard Dynamic Range and then
High Dynamic Range, the difference is
easily noticeable."
"By capturing in and starting with an
image as higher dynamic range, wider
colour gamut and higher resolution,
a shooter is future-proofing their
content and ensuring its longevity
as the needs of the production and
broadcast community shift closer to
full implementation of HDR," Mandel
said. "The footage will be truer and
more realistic, without the need to
use LUTs and other enhancements.
As adoption for HDR increases,
this content will already have the
necessary information needed to easily
render and regrade in post-production,
and be used in new ways."
So, the biggest problem for TV set
manufactures is, how long will it take
for consumers to understand and
appreciate the HDR difference and
then buy such a capable model? Some,
like Sony's Mandle, say that, "with
OTT networks like Amazon and movie
studios delivering content in HDR and
with Sony adding support of HDR on
several 4K UHD televisions and other
manufacturers doing the same, the
transition is already happening."
Others are not quite so optimistic.
When asked when we might see HD
HDR sets in consumers' homes in large
numbers, Panasonic's Mahrer said,
"maybe two to four years. As usual
politics and marketing hype may derail
the process."


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - November 2015

In This Issue
In Broadcast - November 2015 - Intro
In Broadcast - November 2015 - Cover1
In Broadcast - November 2015 - Cover2
In Broadcast - November 2015 - In This Issue
In Broadcast - November 2015 - 4
In Broadcast - November 2015 - 5
In Broadcast - November 2015 - 6
In Broadcast - November 2015 - 7
In Broadcast - November 2015 - 8
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In Broadcast - November 2015 - 11
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In Broadcast - November 2015 - Cover4
In Broadcast - November 2015 - S1
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