HDR: BBC, SES and Samsung in ground-breaking Hybrid Gamma demo

BBC R&D, SES and Samsung Electronics demonstrated the first DVB transmission of High Dynamic Range UHD TV at the annual SES Industry Days in Luxembourg 6 and 7 May. The content was transmitted via an SES satellite directly to a Samsung SUHDTV using the Hybrid Gamma (HDR) technology.

The demonstration marked a milestone for the Ultra HD broadcast chain. It showed for the first time how industry can launch new High Dynamic Range UHD TV Services over DVB Broadcast Networks, which can exploit the capabilities of the next generation of consumer displays, while providing high quality UHD TV Service to UHD Phase 1 Receivers already in the market.

“High Dynamic Range (HDR) will significantly enhance how consumers will experience television in the future,” said Thomas Wrede, Vice President, Reception Systems at SES. “An introduction of any HDR technology must be backwards compatible with existing DVB UHD 1 Phase 1 TVs that are already in consumers’ homes. SES and Samsung, with this transmission over the ASTRA satellite system, are demonstrating that this backwards compatibility is possible today.”

“Samsung is delighted to participate in this demonstration of a monumental step forward for the broadcast industry,” said John Adam, head of business development and industrial affairs at Samsung Research UK. “By delivering UHD TV services that can address the growing market of UHD Phase 1 TVs, while also providing the best experience to consumers who are investing in the next generation of TV, Samsung is ready to fully endorse the BBC Research & Development’s HDR technology as part of our overall drive towards the best consumer experience in UHD TV.”

This collaboration allowed the BBC, the satellite transmission provider and consumer electronics manufacturer to evaluate the feasibility of an end-to-end broadcast utilising a single distribution bitstream which can be decoded on both HDR receivers and legacy non-HDR receivers – a key feature of the ‘Hybrid Log-Gamma’ system.

Unlike most previous HDR demos, the footage was not specially graded for the screen it was shown on – proof that the ‘Hybrid Log-Gamma’ system allows interoperability between screens of different brightnesses and from different manufacturers. The Industry Days were a great opportunity to get a world’s first broadcast of 3840x2160p50 using BBC R&D’s High Dynamic Range proposal on air.

The HDR footage was provided by BBC R&D. The first was a sequence from the BBC Natural History Unit’s ground-breaking programme Life Story, colour graded using a Dolby PRM4220 reference monitor, adapted for use with the ‘Hybrid Log-Gamma’ system by programming its internal Look Up Table (LUT).

The second sequence was shot by BBC R&D at the dress rehearsals of the recent Eurovision 60th Anniversary Concert in London. It was graded using a SIM2 high dynamic range display, but this time adapted for use with the ‘Hybrid Log-Gamma’ system using an external Look Up Table (LUT).

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