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ITU announces new HDR standard

6 July 2016
ITU announces new HDR standard

The ITU has announced a new standard for HDR television that enhances the quality of imaging for HD, 4K, 8K and VR.

The new ITU-R HDR-TV Recommendation BT.2100 standard, which the ITU says will ‘give viewers an enhanced visual experience with added realism’ builds further on the superior colour fidelity of ITU’s UHDTV Recommendation BT.2020.

ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) developed the standard in collaboration with experts from the television industry, broadcasting organisations and regulatory institutions in its Study Group 6.

“HDR will bring a whole new viewing experience to audiences around the world,” said ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao.

“TV programming will be enhanced with brighter pictures that add sparkle to entertainment and realism to news coverage.”

The HDR-TV Recommendation allows TV programmes to take full advantage of the new and much brighter display technologies. HDR can make outdoor sunlit scenes appear brighter and more natural, adding highlights and sparkle. It enhances dimly lit interior and night scenes, revealing more detail in darker areas, giving TV producers the ability to reveal texture and subtle colours that are usually lost with existing Standard Dynamic Range TV.

The HDR-TV Recommendation details two options for producing HDR images based on technologies promoted by several industry groups. The Perceptual Quantization (PQ) specification—standardised by SMPTE – achieves a very wide range of brightness levels using a transfer function that is finely tuned to match the human visual system and the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) specification – supported by the BBC and Japan’s NHK – offers a degree of compatibility with legacy displays by more closely matching the previously established television transfer curves. The Recommendation also outlines a simple conversion process between the two HDR-TV options.

“This Recommendation is the culmination of three years of intensive work by dedicated image experts from around the world. HDR images are stunning and this is another major step forward in television quality,” said Andy Quested, chairman of ITU-R Working Party 6C (WP 6C), which developed the new standard.

“Programme makers today need a much wider range of options in order to meet the expectations of the different platforms they must supply, and this need for flexibility is catered for within the framework of a stable ITU-R Recommendation.”

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