With 4K Ultra HD and HDR we can create TV images that feel more natural
If 4K is all about picture resolution, then HDR (High Dynamic Range) is about colour, contrast and brightness. With a 4K HDR, television pictures can offer a greater breadth of colours, with improved luminosity and more subtle gradations between deepest black and peak white. Together with 4K, HDR TV brings the digital cinema experience into the home for the first time.
While HDR is being introduced alongside 4K, the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand. The BBC and other content creators are looking at making HD programmes with HDR, but of course you’ll need an HDR 4K TV to view them.
Panasonic 4K TVs support the industry standard for HDR known as HDR10. This makes them compatible with all HDR content sources, from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, to streaming services and subscription TV.
Some believe that HDR is the biggest thing to happen to TV since the introduction of colour. Vanja Cernjul, the director of photography on Netflix’s Marco Polo, says: “For me as a cinematographer. HDR is an opportunity to work with an extended keyboard and to learn what I think is a new visual language.”
Cernjul says HDR is changing the way programmes are being made. “Because Marco Polo is a period show, we have basically three light sources we can work with: sunlight, moonlight and firelight. So it’s very important to me to know I can save the highlights in the flames and open fires. I shot one scene, for example, where the actor is carrying a torch, and that’s the only light in the scene. I wouldn’t have dared to do that five years ago. It’s freeing!”
HDR TVs paint images with 10-bit colour. Bit depth is the limit of how much colour gradation you can see on screen. Regular 8-bit TVs have a range 220 usable shades. 10-bit HDR offers 1,024 shades. The result is much smoother colour reproduction.
Broadcasters are keen to introduce HDR, because it changes the way they can cover live sporting events. When a football match is shot in Standard Dynamic Range (SDR), cameras must expose for either the side of the pitch which is sunlit, or the side which is in shadow. They can’t do both. But HDR opens up this dynamic range, so they can expose for both. For viewers, it’s much more like being there.
HDR also holds more colour in brightly lit scenes. In SDR, a blue sky will usually appear white. With HDR, all that colour is restored.
Panasonic offers a wide range of 4K HDR TVs. All are compatible with HDR content sources, but not all HDR screens are exactly the same. The Panasonic DX902 is certified Ultra HD Premium. This means it can deliver peak brightness of over 1000nits, and has less than 0.05 nits black level – a very wide dynamic range indeed.
Other TVs may not go quite as bright, but all represent a big step up from non-HDR models. Once you’ve experienced HDR it’s difficult to go back, says Vanja Cernjul.
“I was shocked how quickly I had adjusted to the brightness of the highlights,” he says. “I think HDR is something consumers will get used to quickly, even more than 4K resolution. It’s just much closer to reality!”
Award-winning TV and movie colourist Dado Valentic, who has worked on Marco Polo for Netflix, says Ultra HD offers viewers a huge visual upgrade. “For the first time in history, people are going to be able to view at home better looking images than they can in the cinema,” he declares. “I’d rather watch a blockbuster movie at home in 4K with my own popcorn, than to go to see it at a premium cinema! The image isn’t going to look as clear or as beautiful than it does on Panasonic’s Ultra HD Premium DX902 television. The contrast is just amazing. ”
The Panasonic DX902 4K TV has been certified Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance, a trade body comprised of consumer electronics makers and content providers. Certification signifies that a screen offers the best possible 4K image quality, from brightness and black level, to colour performance.
“With 4K Ultra HD and HDR we can create TV images that feel more natural. HDR as a standard doesn’t just bring brightness, it’s about getting more detail in the image, it also brings more colour,” explains Valentic.
AV Forums recently interviewed Dado Valentic about his experience with HDR and 4K – you can listen to this interview here: https://www.avforums.com/podcast/avforums-podcast-extra-6th-june-2016.12667
4K Ultra HD TVs don’t just look much sharper than their HD counterparts, they allow more colours to be displayed than ever before. Thanks to so-called Wide Colour Gamut 10-bit displays and HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology they are capable of conveying more colour than has ever been possible before before. This extended colour space allows an Ultra HD TV screen to more closely replicate the kind of vibrant hues you see at the best digital cinemas. Which is why 4K Ultra HD TVs look so cinematic.
So if you are thinking about cinematic experience at home, here are...
5 Movies you need to see in 4K Ultra HDUltra HD is changing the way we watch movies at home. Astonishing new levels of detail, more colours and greater contrast, add extra excitement to a night in front of the telly. But which movies will really make your new 4K TV shine? Here are five of our favourites, guaranteed to look great in 4K Ultra HD…
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Warner Home Video)
George Miller’s multi-award-wining adventure is tailor made for Ultra HD. The brilliantly staged action sequences look sensational, while the rich vibrant hues of the post- apocalyptic desert landscapes make full use of Panasonic 4K Pro TV technology.
Tom Hardy takes the role of the titular Road warrior, partnering with the formidable Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron) to escape the clutches of crazed warlord Immortan Joe. This is sci-fi road rage cranked up past eleven. Ultra HD has never looked more exciting!
2. San Andreas (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Warner Home Video)
The incredible clarity of Ultra HD brings this preposterous disaster epic to vivid life. Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson plays a rescue chopper pilot who sets out to save his imperiled family when California is rocked by a series of city-flattening earthquakes. 4K clarity provides the perfect showcase for this movie’s jaw-dropping visual effects, detailing the destruction of the Hoover Dam and the leveling of downtown LA, while the extended dynamic range of this HDR Blu-ray make the movie’s incessant explosions and foaming tsunami seem frighteningly real.
3. The Lego Movie (4K Blu-ray, Warner Home Video)
If there’s a laugh out loud family film that looks better than The Lego Movie in 4K Ultra HD, then we haven’t seen it. This is eye candy of the finest order. Can unassuming Lego construction worker Emmet (with a little help from Lego Batman and his pals) stop evil tyrant Lord Business from doing all sorts of dastardly things,? Of course he can, but that’s not the point. With its crazy multi-coloured characters, beautifully blocky animation and spectacular visuals, this film is officially rated awesome by us.
4. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (4K Blu-ray, Warner Home Video)
The world’s most popular superheroes clash in spectacular style in this popcorn Summer blockbuster. Director Zack Synder certainly knows how to make a movie look epic, and his distinctive visual style makes this adventure a must-seen in 4K HDR. We love how the Dark Knight’s eye’s dazzle white from within his Bat-armour while the ultra fine detail evident in the massive destruction of the opening battle sequence makes for a thrilling visual experience.
5. Pan (4K Blu-ray, Warner Home Video)
The magical world of NeverLand, re-imagined here with Hugh Jackman in the role of Blackbeard, provides a perfect vehicle for Ultra HD Blu-ray. With its wider colour palette, only Ultra HD is able to do justice to this tale of fantastical pirates and Peter Pan. The ultra fine resolution makes this fantasy seem almost impossibly real!
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