BBC R&D

Posted by BBC Research and Development on , last updated

BBC iPlayer will stream four stunning minutes of Planet Earth II footage in the highest quality the BBC has ever broadcast. The experimental footage will be available in Ultra HD and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) on compatible connected TVs and set-top boxes from today until early next year.

Filming Planet Earth II provided the perfect opportunity to capture the BBC’s world-class documentary making in unprecedented quality. The BBC iPlayer test footage follows a jaguar emerging from the shadows to stalk prey and the mesmerising effects of rain dropping on tiny animals and their habitats, including a range of greens and a frog in a shade of red never before seen on a TV.

BBC R&D - Our Blue Planet II trial - All seven episodes in full in UHD HDR

BBC R&D - How to Adjust Your TV to Enjoy the Best Picture Quality in HDR

The experiment is an early but important step toward streaming high-quality Ultra HD programmes on BBC iPlayer in the future. Central to the trial is the inclusion of HLG, which the BBC sees as an integral part of future Ultra HD programming. Where Ultra HD improves image quality by increasing the number of pixels in a TV set, HLG takes this one step further by providing better quality pixels.

"Yes, it is pretty jaw-dropping."

Gizmodo

As a form of High Dynamic Range, HLG works by enabling images to be shown in extremely high contrast. This provides greater sharpness, extended detail in the shadows and dark areas of the picture, a wider range of colours, and more natural and brighter highlights and mirror-like reflections.

The public Ultra HD and HLG test on BBC iPlayer allows the corporation to better understand how the technology affects existing infrastructure and workflows. It also allows the team to identify the various obstacles and challenges to streaming full length programmes.

Promotion on HDR TVs asking if viewers would like to trial the video clip of Planet Earth

BBC R&D - World Cup 2018 in UHD HDR on BBC iPlayer

BBC News - Wimbledon tennis to be screened in 4K HDR

BBC R&D - The Royal Wedding in High Dynamic Range

Phil Layton, Head of Broadcast & Connected Systems, BBC Research & Development, says: “Increasing the dynamic range of TV images makes a huge difference to how real the images appear to viewers – it’s closer to looking through a window than watching a standard TV set. Crucially, HLG works with existing TV technology and workflows making it ideal for broadcasters, and audiences, all over the world.”

Dan Taylor-Watt, Head of BBC iPlayer, says: “The extra quality HLG brings to Ultra HD needs to be seen to be believed. It’s still early days for the technology but this experiment puts us in the best possible position once audience demand is there. This year we’ve brought live events like the Euros and Olympics to iPlayer, introduced new personalised features and now we’re giving people a glimpse of what the future may hold.”

"Motherboard can confirm the experience was mind-blowing"

Motherboard

HLG was developed by BBC R&D and Japanese broadcaster NHK to address the complex needs of TV broadcasters. It’s also based on open standards to ensure all audiences can enjoy the best possible Ultra HD experience in the future. HLG was recently included in the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) HDR-TV standard.

The BBC is using an experimental stream in Ultra HD and HLG, where the content is graded in HLG and is being streamed as an HLG signal. On supported devices you will be able to watch four stunning minutes of footage from Planet Earth II in Ultra HD and, in time, HLG. One of the aims of the trial is to work with TV and set-top box manufacturers to enable HLG support and we will update this list as they become available - the list has recently been updated to include details of how to view the trial on Virgin and Sky Q boxes.

Tweet This - Share on Facebook

BBC R&D - High Dynamic Range Television and Hybrid Log-Gamma

BBC R&D - Making Blue Planet II available in UHD & HDR on BBC iPlayer

BBC News - BBC tests 4K Planet Earth II in HDR on iPlayer

BBC R&D - 2016 in Review - High Dynamic Range

BBC R&D - A Major Milestone for HDR TV

BBC R&D - HDR at the SES Industry Days

BBC R&D - London's New Year's Eve Fireworks in UHD and HDR

BBC R&D - EBU/DVB HDR Workshop

BBC R&D - 2014 Ultra-High Definition Trials

BBC R&D - Defining the Future of Television

UHD Production Training and Skills from the BBC Academy including:

UHD production: What do I need to know?

4K and Ultra-HD: Making Programmes Podcast

What does the future hold for UHD?

Pocket-lint - BBC iPlayer gets Ultra HD, Planet Earth II trial in 4K HLG

T3 - Watch Planet Earth II in UHD 4K HDR on BBC iPlayer today

Wired - BBC iPlayer to show Planet Earth II in 'unprecedented' Ultra HD

Recombu - What is BBC HLG and how can I watch it?

BT - Planet Earth season 2 trailer shows off UHD technology on iPlayer

This post is part of the Broadcast and Connected Systems section

Topics