Netflix to deliver HDR

Netflix is concentrating on high dynamic range (HDR) technology for forthcoming drama productions
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Netflix is concentrating on High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology for forthcoming drama productions.

HDR goes beyond just the number of pixels and colours involved and into the range of light that can be displayed on the screen.

By blending together images taken at different exposure levels, HDR video can show a greater contrast between light and dark on the screen, and is especially good at displaying really bright images, such as the blinding sun. All of this results in video that is a lot more realistic.

Speaking to Digital Trends, Neil Hunt, chief product officer at Netflix, said, “I think HDR is more visibly different than 4K. Over the past 15 years, we have had plenty of increments of pixels on the screen, and from what we saw with digital cameras, pixel count eventually stopped being interesting.”

With the latest viewing devices, quality is no longer a simple fight to offer the most megapixels, as, for example, 20 megapixels versus 25 megapixels is essentially indecipherable to the human eye. Instead, lights and colours have become key.

“In the real world, you have 14 bits of brightness difference, so imagine stepping outside to look at a reflection of water or shadow of a tree that’s between 12 and 14-bits of range,” Hunt said. “TV only represents 8 bits, so you lose one or the other; you can’t have the brights and the darks at the same time.”

Netflix is going to put a great deal of effort into bringing HDR content to the market this year, despit the fact that it is likely to take some time for the TV manufacturers and consumers to catch up.

“The big step for Netflix this year is that we’re shooting our original shows with cameras that are capable of capturing all the range, then mastering for HDR,” Hunt added.

“That includes all the metadata for both types of TVs because we worked with the manufacturers to render it properly. We’re ready to start building a library and the TVs are making a big leap this year.”