Netflix to stream high-dynamic-range imaging

“High-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or HDR) is a technique used in imaging and photography to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard digital imaging or photographic techniques. The aim is to present the human eye with a similar range of luminance as that which, through the visual system, is familiar in everyday life. The human eye, through adaptation of the iris and other methods, adjusts constantly to the broad dynamic changes ubiquitous in our environment. The brain continuously interprets this information so that a viewer can see in a wide range of light conditions. HDR images can represent a greater range of luminance levels than can be achieved using more ‘traditional’ methods, such as many real-world scenes containing very bright, direct sunlight to extreme shade, or very faint nebulae. This is often achieved by capturing and then combining several different narrower range exposures of the same subject matter. Non-HDR cameras take photographs with a limited exposure range, resulting in the loss of detail in highlights or shadows. The two primary types of HDR images are computer renderings and images resulting from merging multiple low-dynamic-range (LDR) or standard-dynamic-range (SDR) photographs. HDR images can also be acquired using special image sensors, like an oversampled binary image sensor. Due to the limitations of printing and display contrast, acquiring an HDR image is only half the story; one must also develop methods of displaying the results. The method of rendering an HDR image to a standard monitor or printing device is called tone mapping. This method reduces the overall contrast of an HDR image to facilitate display on devices or printouts with lower dynamic range, and can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect. HDR lenses are currently being developed by Ricoh-Imaging. Current applications include prototype lenses being trialled on the international space station. Further developments include consumer lenses for use in low light conditions such as night driving. These HDR lenses combine a laminate of borosilicate carbide and polarizing films to actively refine the intensity of various wavelengths of light, which results in a higher dynamic range image seen by the eye.” – Wikipedia


Netflix are to begin streaming programmes using high-dynamic-range imaging, allowing streamers access to millions of new colour shades and extra levels of brightness, leading to a more realistic image. Streaming high-dynamic-range imaging will, however, require an ultra-high-definition television of four thousand pixels and a premium subscription. High-dynamic-range-imaging has already been made available by Amazon Prime Instant Video. Netflix series already available were rendered in ultra -high-definition, claimed Lucky Goldstar Corporation at Consumer Electronics Show, who collaborated with Netflix during the rendering of Daredevil.

Speaking to BBC News, a Netflix spokesman said:

We just started streaming in HDR., with Marco Polo [showrunners: John Fusco and Dave Erickson] season one now available. We will continue to expand the offering.

Netflix’s Chief Executive Officer, Wilmot “Reed” Hastings said:

When people see HDR. they will be really impressed. HDR. will be on top of 4.K – but the big wow visually will be H.DR.

Modern televisions support full high-definition – one-thousand-and-eighty horizontal lines, the accepted standard of video technology. Netflix began roll-out of full high-definition streaming in 2013. Ultra-high-definition supports two-thousand-one-hundred-and-sixty horizontal lines, and is predicted to become the new standard. 2016 will be Netflix’s first year of streaming in ultra-high-definition.

Full high-definition has received criticism for its lack of contrast between black and white when showing a monochrome programme, and high-dynamic-range imaging will allow for enough new shades and extra pixels to change this; programmes will need to be recorded using high-dynamic-range imaging in order for ultra-high-definition to make a difference, however. Inside CI have reported that Sony Android 4K televisions have already received the upgrade required to display programmes mastered with high-dynamic-range imaging. The recommended bandwidth is twenty-five megabits per second. Netflix’s upgrade to high-dynamic-range imaging comes at the same time as a British price upgrade; users who don’t wish to pay £7.49, rather than the current £5.99, per month will be downgraded to standard definition. And to upgrade to high-dynamic-range imaging will be an increase to £8.99 per month.

A spokesman said

Members will be clearly notified in advance by email and within the service, so that they have time to decide which plan/price point works best for them.

A BBC News analyst – Strategy Analytics’ David Watkins – has concluded that high-dynamic-range imaging is currently reaching a small audience, but will grow.

This year, pretty much all the mid- to high-range TV sets from the big manufacturers will support HDR. And, later this year, there will be software upgrades for some of the 2015 models to make them capable. And, within three years time, pretty much all screens that are forty inches or larger will support HDR. Content is going to be fairly limited in the short-term. There is a huge financial outlay to build up a solid library of material. But the studios are moving ahead with it.

Upgrading to high-dynamic-range imaging is another step forward for streamed television – broadcast television is yet to make the jump.

Author: the Purple Prose Mage

I'm not Batman, but I wish that I were.

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