BBC trialling 4K HDR Planet Earth II via iPlayer

For a limited time on a very limited number of TVs

by Mark Hodgkinson Dec 8, 2016 at 11:57 AM


  • The BBC has announced it is trialling Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range footage of Planet Earth II via the iPlayer.
    The trial is reportedly running from today (8 December 2016) and will stop some time ‘early next year.’ The only issue being, for the moment at least, is on which TVs and/or devices is the footage actually available to view. A news story on the BBC News website stated that currently Panasonic TVs were the only devices able to support the trial but, as far as we know, Panasonic have yet to update their TVs with the necessary Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) standard to actually be able to display the content in HDR. We have asked Panasonic for an official response on this issue.
    On the other hand, a selection of our forum members have been checking out the iPlayer app on their 2016 DX902s and 2015 CX902s and have found themselves greeted with the UHD trial message. One member stated, that on the second time of opening, they had to enable the ‘Try New Features,’ setting and, understandably, the iPlayer app has to be the Beta version (also selectable in the menu) to get to the content.

    In terms of playback success, there have been different experiences for our members with one able to play the Ultra HD footage on his DX902 but without the HDR mode available, whilst a CX902 user reported success on both fronts with a picture they described as ‘stunning’.

    A blog from BBC R&D stated that the filming of Planet Earth II provided the perfect opportunity to capture the documentary in unprecedented quality. The BBC iPlayer test footage follows a jaguar emerging from the shadows to stalk prey and the 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.

    The experiment is an early, but important, step toward streaming high-quality Ultra HD programmes on the BBC iPlayer in the future, says the BBC team, and central to the trial is the inclusion of HLG, which the BBC sees as an integral part of future Ultra HD programming.

    We’ll update the story once more users have given their feedback.

    Update: The BBC has since updated with a list of compatible TVs:

    2015: CX680, CX700, CR730, CX800, CR852 and CZ950 Series
    2016: DX902, DR852, DX802, DX750, DX720, DX700, DX680 and DX650 series.

    The BBC's Head of iPlayer, Dan Taylor-Watt also Tweeted us to say that the BBC 'we're working with other manufacturers to increase the number.'

    Source: BBC R&D

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