Online could be the key channel to hasten 4KTV development, and in a move that could see a spike in uptake, the BBC iPlayer is to demo Ultra HD content from the popular Planet Earth II programme.
The hugely popular online video and video-on-demand (VOD) platform will stream four minutes of footage in what the BBC says is the highest quality it has ever broadcast. The test footage follows a jaguar emerging from the shadows to stalk prey, and the mesmerising effects of rain dropping on tiny animals and their habitats, including a range of greens and a frog in a shade of red that the BBC says has never before seen on a TV. The footage is available on compatible connected TVs now until early next year in Ultra HD and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG).
As a form of high dynamic range (HDR), HLG works by enabling images to be shown in extremely high contrast. HLG was developed by BBC R&D and Japanese broadcaster NHK to address the complex needs of TV broadcasters, based on open standards. It was recently included in the International Telecommunication Unions (ITU) HDR-TV standard.
The BBC regards HLG as an integral part of future Ultra HD programming and noted that its public Ultra HD and HLG test on the iPlayer allows the corporation to better understand how the technology affects existing infrastructure and workflows. It also allows the team to identify the various obstacles and challenges to streaming full length programmes. Explained Phil Layton, head of broadcast and connected systems, BBC research and development: Increasing the dynamic range of TV images makes a huge difference to how real the images appear to viewers its closer to looking through a window than watching a standard TV set. Crucially, HLG works with existing TV technology and workflows making it ideal for broadcasters, and audiences, all over the world.
Added head of BBC iPlayer Dan Taylor-Watt: The extra quality HLG brings to Ultra HD needs to be seen to be believed. Its still early days for the technology but this experiment puts us in the best possible position once audience demand is there. This year weve brought live events like the Euros and Olympics to iPlayer, introduced new personalised features and now were giving people a glimpse of what the future may hold.