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.

See more Hollywood's 100 Favorite Films            

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