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UHD Blu-ray standard agreed

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has agreed a batch of standards for ‘next generation’ players and disc media called ‘Ultra-HD Blu-ray’. The news, reported by trade magazine Large Display Monitor, says that the Ultra-HD players will support an open standard High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology, using 10 bit HEVC MPEG video encoding and based on SMPTE HDR signalling. The format will allow for optional layered solutions including Dolby Vision, and the HDR on offer from Philips.

However, a 4K proposal from Technicolor was not set into the new proposals.

Perhaps as important is that the new Blu-ray discs specifications conform to the EBU’s Recommendation 2020 which takes the wide colour gamut proposals, and frame rates up to 60P and delivers the much longed-for “better pixels” that true UHD demands. The advantages of 10 bit encoding and wider colour gamut will also enhance the presentation of Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) BT-709 colour content as well.

The BDA says that the combined recommendations will be embraced formally by the BDA around the middle of this year, and that discs and players should start appearing later this year.

The industry expects 4K Blu-ray players to be backwards compatible and play existing Blu-ray/DVDs on most machines.

The new format will handle HEVC encoding (the current BD devices cannot handle this ‘next generation’ technology). The HDR system adopted by the BDA is open standard based and developed and agreed to by the member companies, including the Consumer Electronic manufacturers, Studios, and IT providers.

The news also means that there are no competing formats.

Of course, a bigger question is whether the world will notice the new devices given that 4K streaming is already a reality in some markets, and will be increasingly commonplace by the end of 2015.

The BDA says that it member companies certainly recognise that streaming and download solutions have jump-started the UHD content delivery, but only to a limited extent. “As UHD content offerings mature, we believe that the two systems will “coexist” for quite some time. However, we also believe that the value of owning the Ultra-HD Blu-ray packaged media will be robust for many years as it offers the premium content viewing experience each and every time it is played.”

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