Video hardware

'Anti-Dolby' HDR10+ Alliance Announced

Samsung, Panasonic and 20th Century Fox have come together to form the HDR10+ Alliance, aimed at promoting the use of a new HDR format.

HDR, or High Dynamic Range, is a technique that expands the range of both color and contrast significantly on a TV set. This makes images appear to have more depth and richness. In tests, viewers rated TVs with HDR higher than those with just more resolution.

However, there has been some contention within the industry regarding the different approaches to take with regard to HDR. The ITU announced support for two approaches, Perceptual Quantizer (PQ) and Hybrid Log Gamma. PQ is also used by HDR-10, the technology that is supported by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). And Dolby has offered its own approach, incorporating 12-bit color depth (allowing for 10,000-bit maximum brightness) and dynamic metadata.

There are also other approaches in the market, offered by other players.

The new HDR 10+ format is clearly designed to compete with the Dolby Vision standard, as it essentially adds dynamic metadata to the HDR-10 format. That's precisely what Dolby Laboratories Inc. (NYSE: DLB) has been offering the industry, but at a price. Dolby charges a licensing fee for its format, which Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) and Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) have refused to pay. Others, such as Sony, TCL and LG have however, signed up with Dolby.

The HDR 10+ format will not have a licensing fee, though there is apparently a small administration fee. But it's royalty-free, which is not just important today, but also in the future as adoption of these devices grows. No electronics manufacturer wants to be locked into a proprietary technology. The goal is clearly to ensure manufacturers have the option of a royalty-free HDR format which offers the advantages of dynamic metadata.

The format itself is not new -- it was widely reported on in April this year, when its lead developer Samsung roped in Amazon for streaming its video services.

The advantage offered by dynamic metadata is that it allows devices (UHD TVs, Blu-ray disc players and compatible set-top boxes) to dynamically adjust the brightness, color and contrast of the video for each scene rather than the movie or TV show as a whole, and significantly improve the viewing experience.

Samsung had previously partnered with others: Colorfront for HDR10+ post-production mastering workflows and MulticoreWare for integrating HDR10+ into HEVC. But the announcement of the HDR10+ Alliance and the new heavyweight partners suggests burgeoning support for this format.

HDR is important; most agree it has more of an impact on the viewing experience than 4K resolution -- especially on screens of less than 60 inches. More format wars may further delay deployment and adoption.

It's still too early to tell the impact of this new format, other than to say that it clouds an already murky market space. But TV sets with HDR-10 are shipping, and at least a base level of HDR is being built up.

More details -- and demonstrations -- are to be provided at the Consumer Electronics Show in January next year by the newly formed body.

— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation

Michelle 8/31/2017 | 11:21:43 PM
Re: Rivals Agreed. Standards wars are the worst. It takes sooo long to come to a decision (if at all). Remind me, who won the VHS/BETAMAX war??
242ak 8/31/2017 | 10:11:31 AM
Re: Rivals Too many cooks in the HDR kitchen for me. I'd like to see a single standard agreed on, and everyone work towards rolling it out. These format wars usually just slow down eco-system evolution. But I suppose they are inevitible. Why be beholden to one provider if there's a way to create something open?
danielcawrey 8/30/2017 | 11:06:29 AM
Rivals Well, I guess Dolby does need some competition. We'll see how this shakes out. I've always liked Dolby, but it seems as though these are some pretty heavy hitters. 
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