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ITU announces new HDR standard

In a major advance for a technology that will inevitably boost uptake of Ultra HD services, the ITU has announced a new standard for high dynamic range (HDR) TV. Building on the colour fidelity of ITU’s Ultra HD TV (UHDTV) Recommendation BT.2020, the ITU’s Radio communication sector (ITU-R) has developed the new recommended standard in collaboration with experts from the television industry, broadcasting organisations and regulatory institutions in its Study Group 6.

The new HDR-TV recommendation details two options for producing High Dynamic Range TV images. The Perceptual Quantisation (PQ) specification is designed to achieve a 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 is constructed to offer 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: HDTV (1920 by 1080), and 4K/Ultra HD (3840 by 2160) and 8K (7680 by 4320) – all of which use the progressive imaging system with extended colour gamut and range of frame-rates in ITU’s UHDTV Recommendation BT.2020.

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