January 3, 2014
A recent tech demonstration at Dolby’s offices in Burbank, California revealed the company’s new high dynamic range TV imaging technology that is said to beat UHD TV in terms of quality. The demo showed off 1080p HD with rich, clear color and “better pixels,” rather than just more pixels. Dolby will reveal the name for the technology at CES in Las Vegas next week, and execs are saying it is not only better than 4K, but less expensive to produce as well.
According to Variety, Dolby’s HDR technology’s visual improvements are visible “even at a distance from the screen,” unlike 4K TV.
“High dynamic range imaging, which makes the highlights brighter and the shadows darker, has long been considered low-hanging fruit by technologists in the digital imaging field,” the article explains. “Many have long wondered why Hollywood and the camera and TV makers haven’t embraced it sooner, as they watched money flow into adding more pixels (standard-def to HDTV, 2K to 4K in cinemas), higher frame rates and 3D.”
“We’re not trying to rain on the 4K parade,” Patrick Griffis, executive director, technology strategy for Dolby tells Variety. “But what we want to see is that for every pixel we want to see, we want them better.”
Griffis says that the cost to produce quality pixels is “much less than the incremental cost to do 4K.” Variety adds that Dolby plans to create a “future-proofed container” for image information that studios can use “as display technology improves.”
The article says that with Dolby’s HDR, “metallic surfaces gleam like mirrors. Colors glow, luminous and rich. Highlights and shadows alike keep their detail.” It notes the demo showed a “startling improvement over even the best TVs available today,” including the early UHD models.
However, CNET notes that a lot needs to change for this tech to gain traction: “Dolby downplays this a bit, pointing out the current generation of camera can already shoot in wider gamuts and with a greater contrast than what’s possible to see on the average home TV. But forging the links in the chain from there, namely distribution, is going to be tough. Netflix can barely transmit a quality HD image to most homes, despite its promise to deliver 4K next year. Downloading something of even Blu-ray quality would take most of a day in many parts of the country.”
“But it might take a company like Dolby, which is powerful and respected in the home theater space as more of a partner than a competitor to most manufacturers, to push other companies to adopt the changes necessary,” concludes CNET.
ETCentric will have more details from CES next week.
Is Your TV Bright Enough?, Dolby Blog, 12/6/13
Will Dolby Make CES 2014 the Year of the Super TV?, Digital Trends, 12/13/13
Dolby Proposing Disruptive New Imaging Format, But Can it Slow the 4K Train?, The Hollywood Reporter, 12/17/13