CES: Ultra HD Blu-Ray Launches With 4K, HDR Support

The Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA) launched Ultra HD Blu-Ray — a new Blu-Ray format that supports 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) imagery. It will begin rolling out the technical specification to licensees in mid-2015, and the first titles are expected to be on the market before the end of the year.

HDR—effectively a wider range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks—is a tricky topic with many stakeholders aiming to enter this emerging area. Sony’s Victor Matsuda, who is the BDA global promotions committee chair, told The Hollywood Reporter that the new Blu-Ray format includes a mandatory, open HDR specification. Additionally, there will be optional technology support, and “right now those include the Dolby (Dolby Vision) and Philips HDR technology,” he confirmed.

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Matsuda added that BDA intends to work alongside other groups, including the newly-launched UHD Alliance and standards setting body Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, which also want to identify a common ground for HDR to avoid a potential format war. (Many of the same companies are involved in each of these groups.)

As to manufacturer support for the new Blu-Ray format, during CES Panasonic unveiled an Ultra HD Blu-Ray player, which will be available this year. Matsuda said supported players would talk to TVs with HDMI 1.2 or HDMI 2.0. Additionally, he said Utra HD Blu-Ray players must be backward compatible, able to play a standard Blu-Ray or a DVD.

Disney, Fox, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. are all represented on the BDA board.

E-mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA 

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