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ITU announces new HDR TV standard

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has today announced a new standard for High Dynamic Range Television.

According to the ITU - the United Nations agency responsible for coordinating technical standards - High Dynamic Range Television (HDR-TV) brings "an incredible feeling of realism".

ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) has developed the standard – or "Recommendation" – in collaboration with experts from the television industry, broadcasting organizations and regulatory institutions.

Welcoming the announcement, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said:
“High Dynamic Range Television will bring a whole new viewing experience to audiences around the world. TV programming will be enhanced with brighter pictures that add sparkle to entertainment and realism to news coverage.”

This latest ITU-R HDR-TV Recommendation brings a further boost to television images, giving viewers an enhanced visual experience with added realism. The HDR-TV Recommendation allows TV programmes to take full advantage of the new and much brighter display technologies. HDR-TV 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 High Dynamic Range TV images. The Perceptual Quantization (PQ) specification 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 which 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.

The ITU-R Recommendation BT.2100 also allows TV producers to choose from three levels of detail or resolution:
  • HD TV (1920 by 1080), 
  • 4K UHDTV (3840 by 2160) 
  • 8K UHDTV (7680 by 4320)

Not all 4K or HD TVs and boxes out on the market at the moment will support HDR, as TVs and set top boxes need to be able to understand additional information being broadcast alongside the TV signal for it to work properly.