The BBC’s Blue Planet II programme is to change into its first TV collection to be made obtainable in 4K decision and excessive dynamic vary (HDR) color through its iPlayer catch-up service.
All seven episodes of the marine-themed present are being made obtainable to UK-based house owners of choose TVs.
Till now, the BBC had solely launched programmes on this format through ultra-high definition (UHD) Blu-ray discs.
Netflix and Amazon already stream a few of their exhibits in 4K and HDR.
The BBC suggested that owners of compatible screens ought to take pleasure in “the spectacular animals, vibrant coral reefs and deep blue oceans” as by no means earlier than.
The time period 4K refers back to the truth a picture has 4 occasions as many pixels as a 1080p HD one, which means it ought to seem extra detailed and crisp.
Nonetheless, to understand this, viewers should be sitting shut sufficient to a big sufficient tv, in any other case their eyes can not inform the distinction.
As such, many consultants agree that HDR really has extra affect. It takes benefit of the actual fact screens can go brighter and/or darker than they used to have the ability to, offering a larger dynamic vary.
Because of this, the shadows of a picture may be made much less murky whereas the highlights – together with mild glinting off water – may be given extra affect.
HDR additionally makes use of a wider color house – which means it could possibly present tens of millions extra colors than SDR – which ought to make Blue Planet II’s sea life seem extra reasonable.
“It’s totally apparent the quantity of color that HDR offers you over regular footage,” commented Becky Roberts from What Hello-Fi journal.
“It is undoubtedly extra spectacular than the additional decision alone, and it actually lends itself to displaying off the colorful coral reefs and different ocean pictures.
“But it surely has been fairly a gradual course of by the BBC to get up to now.”
Stay HDR broadcasts
Snippets of an earlier collection, Planet Earth, were shown on iPlayer last year in 4K and HDR as a part of an earlier trial.
However a part of the rationale the BBC has taken till now to offer a whole present is that it’s making an attempt to pioneer a brand new HDR format.
Whereas Netflix and Amazon depend on current applied sciences – often known as HDR10 and Dolby Imaginative and prescient – to ship further color data, the BBC has teamed up with the Japanese broadcaster NHK to create one thing referred to as hybrid-log gamma (HLG).
HLG is designed to be higher suited to stay broadcasts of sport and different occasions as a result of it doesn’t want to offer metadata – knowledge about different knowledge – in contrast to the opposite codecs.
“Metadata is extraordinarily troublesome to relay by means of stay manufacturing workflows,” defined BBC Analysis & Growth’s principal technologist Andrew Cotton.
“The gear simply does not assist it – and we all know from the place metadata is used elsewhere, it will get misplaced, it will get corrupted. It is an actual downside.”
HLG does have some theoretical downsides. It’s not able to describing as broad a dynamic vary as Dolby Imaginative and prescient, nor can it present data to calibrate the picture to specific TV fashions.
However Mr Cotton recommended that in observe viewers wouldn’t be deprived.
“HLG nonetheless exceeds the capabilities of the human visible system, and does not want the 28 stops of dynamic vary [that Dolby does],” he stated.
“Nor does it want the metadata to adapt the sign to completely different brightness shows.
“We have carried out some demos, and you’ll’t see the distinction between the 2.”
The BBC plans to launch the particular version of Blue Planet II instantly after the ultimate episode is broadcast on BBC One on Sunday.
Near 400 TV fashions and Roku’s Streaming Stick+ 4K are included within the trial.
Sky’s Q Platform may also be capable to stream the programmes in 4K, although not HDR, which it has but to assist.
However there are nonetheless notable exceptions – neither Apple nor Amazon’s newest set-top containers supply suitable variations of iPlayer. Sony’s top-end ZD9 and A1 units are additionally at present excluded, though the Japanese agency stated that they’d quickly be added.
The BBC has but to disclose when different programming will probably be launched within the format.