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BBC UHD trial with Planet Earth II content

The BBC is giving some iPlayer users access to a Ultra HD high dynamic range trial, featuring footage from Planet Earth II.

But regular scheduled UHD content may be up to 18 months away, according to BBC R&Ds Phil Layton.

The UHD trial consists of a 4 minute clip from the popular documentary series, making use of high dynamic range (HDR). The footage included in the pilot features a deep Ferrari Red frog, which is a tone of colour not normally possible to see on broadcast television.

But hardly any receivers can actually display the content, with HDR supporting devices still a minority. However, the BBC hopes the trial will encourage manufacturers to support the latest standards, so that more devices are equipped for when the BBC does make UHD/HDR content regularly available.

Currently only supported by Panasonic's latest models, that support the underlying HLG (hybrid log gamma) technology, the BBC says it hopes to make the UHD trial on other smart TVs as and when the TVs begin to support the technology, but there are no guarantees that current devices will be upgraded by the relevant manufacturers.

Outside of the trial, it is not possible to view Planet Earth II in UHD. But the BBC is planning to make Ultra HD content routinely available on the iPlayer in the coming years.

BBC R&D have also been testing hybrid log gamma via the Astra 1 satellite in recent months.