High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology greatly improves the experience of viewing video: blacks are blacker and whites, and bright colors, brighter.
As more TVs come on the market with HDR support and prices consequently drop, demand is expected to be high. However, delivering HDR content presents some challenges to service providers.
We caught up with one of the key experts on HDR at Technicolor Connected Home, Brian Jentz, a Senior Director of Product Management, to learn how Technicolor is working with chip manufacturers to offer service providers solutions to these problems, helping them to deliver HDR content cost-effectively to their customers.
Jentz: They play a critical role. Advanced HDR requires additional hardware to be implemented. This cannot be done with a software change like some of the initial HDR technologies. Because of this, SoC manufacturers play a very important part in the ecosystem.
We have worked closely with SoC providers to integrate Technicolor HDR intellectual property into the silicon of leading players in the field. A great example of this is MStar, which we are showing at IBC with our HDR demonstration.
Jentz: Advanced HDR enables a consumer to play back any HDR content on existing Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) TVs, or, if they have a new HDR TV, they can take full advantage of the content. This is done by sending one single content stream that includes standard dynamic range data plus HDR, through the use of metadata.
This is a big advantage over the more basic HDR technologies that have started to roll out this year. The other advantage Advanced HDR technology brings is tone management. That creates the ability to up-convert SDR to HDR in the home, on a set-top-box. In so doing, viewers have uninterrupted HDR capability displayed to their TVs.
Jentz: Absolutely. When we talk about set-top-boxes and the millions of units that are deployed each year, having HDR integrated into SoC devices is really critical to being able to scale HDR technology throughout the consumer base.
Jentz: HDR is one of those technologies where people understand the benefits as soon as they see it. Service providers are no different. As soon as they see HDR, they appreciate the benefits and want to bring it to their customers.
But because of the cost associated with rolling out a new technology, one of the key gating factors to rapid and cost-effective distribution is the availability of SoCs. Now, with SoCs – like those from MStar that we are showing here at IBC, which integrate the Advanced HDR by Technicolor technology, that bottleneck is being taken away and service providers can now look at economically viable large-scale rollouts.
Jentz: MStar is a great example of the work we are doing with the community. We worked with them early on to integrate our intellectual property into their silicon. We worked closely with them in the labs as the first silicon was being returned to make sure the video quality was high and up to expectations.
We have worked closely with them on demonstrations at shows like IBC. And throughout this year, we have worked closely with service providers on live trials in real-world environments to test out the end-to-end ecosystem. Now we have set top boxes available that integrate SoCs like MStar’s that we will be rolling into the market.