Advanced HDR By Technicolor Streaming Solutions


Categories Streaming

High-dynamic range (HDR) technology has emerged as a competitive requirement for over-the-top (OTT) streaming video service providers. HDR offers viewers an enhanced viewing experience by offering significantly higher brilliance in brightness and color, in both HD and UHD environments. Consumers have come to expect this high level of video quality. This is especially important for high action sports events which benefit from the enhancements that high dynamic range brings to viewing experiences. Getting such events in high dynamic range quality from the field to end-users requires some new innovations … and Advanced HDR by Technicolor provides the solution.Advanced HDR by Technicolor® is a suite of High Dynamic Range (HDR) production, distribution and display solutions that leverages machine learning (ML) technology to maximize image quality and enhance the consumer viewing experience. The solutions enable HDR and standard dynamic range (SDR) content to be captured and produced using a single workflow, in which both standard dynamic range and high dynamic range can be created effortlessly.

They also make it possible for SDR and HDR content to be created in a single stream and stored as a single version, significantly reducing the storage space required for the various encoded versions in the streaming media industry. When HDR was first introduced for broadcasting and streaming applications, separate HDR and SDR versions of content were created for each format. Each version required different -- and dedicated -- grading/shading and mastering processes. Tuning HDR content required highly skilled technical human intervention utilizing manual processes. The results were slow, expensive and difficult to scale, leading to wasted time, money, and application of talent.As consumers turn to streaming platforms to enjoy live sports and entertainment events, the quality of live streaming is rapidly emerging as a competitive differentiator among subscription- and advertising-based streaming providers.When HDR was first introduced to support live sporting presentations, the industry largely adopted static look-up tables (LUTs) to perform conversions between SDR and HDR signals in order to ensure that those end-users that do not yet have HDR displays can still enjoy high quality SDR video. These static conversions were unsatisfactory -- especially for outdoor events -- resulting in both poor SDR quality, as well as limited HDR quality since the full spectrum of HDR could not be exploited when taking the limited capabilities of static conversions into account. Shifting environmental lighting conditions over the course of a live event changes luminance effects which alters the perception of color. This creates challenges for static LUT-based technologies during live capture of events -- such as shifting light, passing clouds or shadows cast by stadium architecture.Advanced HDR by Technicolor pioneered the development of a single-stream approach that allows the entire streaming ecosystem to simultaneously deliver production- and distribution-ready content for HDR/SDR distribution at SDR only bitrates by adding extremely low bitrate meta-data allowing the end-to-end delivery of uncompromised HDR with 10-bit and 8-bit encoding without well-known artifacts like bending.

The process maximizes the dynamic range and color volume in HDR without compromising SDR broadcasts. The suite of solutions included in Advanced HDR by Technicolor ensures optimal source fidelity on both SDR-to-HDR and HDR-to-SDR conversions.This is accomplished by leveraging machine learning to enable dynamic conversion that delivers a single stream accompanied by dynamic metadata to end-user devices, ensuring that conversion -- from SDR to HDR and back to SDR -- can be executed while preserving the integrity of original formats. In short, Advanced HDR by Technicolor enables streaming providers to differentiate themselves in the market by delivering the best possible and uncompromised visual experience to consumers in both HDR and SDR, regardless of how content is originally created, at a very low bitrate. While HDR in general is advertised as a feature of ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K televisions, Advanced HDR by Technicolor also brings the brilliance of HDR to the still large, embedded base of HD TVs, consuming less streaming bandwidth in the process. Beyond TVs, this feature of Advanced HDR by Technicolor is important for viewing on a wide range of devices such as mobile phones and tablets. These often require streaming to occur when less bandwidth is available. From an economic perspective, high quality video can be experienced with Advanced HDR by Technicolor without stressing monthly data usage subscriptions. This means users enjoy a more stable connection, even for WIFI, due to the need for less bandwidth. Advanced HDR by Technicolor ensures that dynamic conversions -- from SDR to HDR and back to SDR -- deliver the highest achievable quality for both SDR and HDR originals and can be executed while preserving the artistic intent as well as the integrity of the content converting back to the original formats.

The latter is referred to as “perfect round-trip.” Advanced HDR by Technicolor incorporates tone mapping tools that are dynamic, ML-driven and tunable to provide perfect round-trip performance that can be objectively proven (NOTE: This has been objectively demonstrated in a 2022 technical paper published by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers). Advanced HDR by Technicolor has reached a number of “firsts” in its development as a solution: * Advanced HDR by Technicolor single layer HDR technology (SL-HDR) is the first to enable a single master live HDR production with perfect fidelity SDR stream down-conversion.* It is the first technology to enable dynamic conversions that can automatically adapt to capture changes in light conditions, preserving the original integrity of HDR content details and contrast.* It is the first solution to enable dynamic metadata distribution with SDR-plus-metadata. The essence and mission of Advanced HDR by Technicolor Technology is to preserve the artistic intent of content as it is dynamically converted to and from SDR and HDR. Current innovations in Advanced HDR by Technicolor have their roots in recognized excellence that have stood the test of time. Highlights of note include the following:* Advanced HDR by Technicolor’s ITM technology received the Lumiere Award in 2015. * Live content can be automatically converted and distributed to end-users. * High quality graphics overlay provided by the “static diffuse white feature” was presented at the SMPTE 2023 conference. The feature enables: 1) stable and unaffected graphics in the down conversion process; 2) perfect HDR reconstruction without artifacts at the end-user device for SDR plus metadata transmission even at 8-bit compression; and 3) the optimization of rendering with the preservation of details in bright areas through its associated display adaptation. The innovations included in the Advanced HDR by Technicolor suite have dramatically -- and cost-efficiently -- enabled the transition to a complete HDR experience for end-users of any type of live and cinematic content and increased the amount of content available in HDR format to viewers.