Disruptive technology: UHD and HDR

With UHD and HDR revolutionising the way stories are told, we dive into the finer nuances of this technology
UHD, HDR, Broadcast, Production, Technology, Media, Grass Valley, 4k, 8K, Video

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As broadcasters, production houses, and content conglomerates are trying to keep pace with the magnifying consumer appetite for sharp storytelling and captivating, immersive viewing experiences, higher resolutions are proving to be the holy grail to bring consumers closer to the action. Content producers have no choice but to embrace both, UHD (Ultra High Definition) and HDR (High Dynamic Range). UHD is a type of display resolution which includes 4K UHD and 8K UHD, which are two digital video formats giving higher pixels as compared to traditional HD. HDR is a technique used in imaging and photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity, than is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques.

Three photos depicting different exposures to HDR

Three photos depicting different exposures to HDR

Until a while back, the frenzy of full HD was widespread, but with UHD offering a resolution four times better as compared to regular HD, it has become a go-to for most producers. The colour depth and black levels provided by UHD pictures is near stunning, and playing 4K videos and movies, without distorting the quality is a facile task. On the other hand, HDR allows to offer a high level of colour contrast, enabling a realistic image. It is best explained by how bright the whites are and how dark the blacks are. HDR can arguably be rendered utmost importance amongst new video technologies, since the upgrade from SD to HD. Consumer trends indicate that adding HDR is gaining traction, making it a good bet for content producers. According to a recent study, shipments of HDR TV sets are forecast to surpass HD units by 2020 and reach 245 million units in 2022, representing a market worth around 37 billion by 2022.


“UHD/HDR promise enhanced brightness, a heightened range of shadow, colour and luminance, for a clearly differentiated video experience, which is why everyone from creatives to broadcasters around the globe, who want to incorporate UHD/ HDR video capabilities into their offerings, have transitioned to UHD/HDR,” said Dilip Kathuria, CEO, CDM Technologies.

Klaus Weber, principal, Camera Solutions and Technology, Grass Valley

WE ARE EXPECTING A RISE IN 4K UHD AND HDR UPTAKE ACROSS SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION. WE HAVE SEEN SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT COMING FROM BROADCASTERS AS WELL AS PRODUCTION COMPANIES, OB AND RENTAL HOUSES GLOBALLY, AND WE EXPECT THIS TREND TO CONTINUE IN THE MONTHS AHEAD.
– KLAUS WEBER, PRINCIPAL , CAMERA SOLUTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY, GRASS VALLEY

Klaus Weber, principal, Camera Solutions and Technology, Grass Valley, added, “4K UHD increases the number of pixels, resulting in a larger field of view for long shots or increased detail in close-ups.
However, while consumers undoubtedly enjoy a much richer viewing experience in 4K UHD, the additional resolution alone is not enough – particularly when you consider the screen size that most of them
are accessing content on. This is where HDR comes in to its own.”

VALUE ADDITION
By combining 4K UHD and HDR, broadcasters are being able to optimise the quality of the images to the best possible level, thus, curating life-like experiences for viewers. “HDR works by improving the quality of the pixels, and the impact is readily discernible to the human eye. HDR is widely recognised as the next big thing in content delivery, delivering an immediate – and perceivable – benefit to the consumer,” affirmed Weber.

Companies have been using UHD and HDR since years, but much of this dynamic range was not accessible to the consumer due to the limitations of the projection or display technology.
The dynamic range of film stocks and digital cameras is comparable, but now displays and projectors make room for viewers to see more information in context to shadows and highlights. The ability to produce HDR content in HD bypasses the significant bandwidth requirements needed for HDR in 4K UHD, allowing it to be quickly deployed. In a live production environment, this translates into having camera equipment that is UHD/HDR enabled, or equipment that is enabled to change the pixel size between native 4K and native HD inside CMOS imagers. Next-generation production formats combine resolution, dynamic range and colour gamut (e.g., 1080p with HDR and WCG), and this does not always require 4K cameras. Installing HDR monitors on-set, immensely aids the camera crew in making the right lighting and exposure choices for the desired look. “What may have been previously blown out by lighting on an SDR display may now be visible in HDR, so considerations will have to be made for this,” added Kathuria.

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