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Media Roundtable: Advanced HDR by Technicolor Examines the State of HDR in Europe with Industry Executives

By: PRLog

MANHATTAN, N.Y. - Oct. 19, 2022 - PRLog -- uring a recent industry roundtable, Advanced HDR by Technicolor met with industry executives across the content creation, distribution and consumption ecosystem to share perspectives on the adoption and integration of high dynamic range (HDR) technology across Europe.

Executives participating in the media roundtable included:

  • Dr, Ciro Noronha, chief technology officer for Cobalt Digital;
  • Mickael Raulet, chief technology officer for Ateme;
  • Guillaume Arthuis, chief executive officer of BBright; and
  • Valerie Allie, group director for video solutions with InterDigital.
  • Mark Aitken, senior vice president of Sinclair Broadcast Group and president of One Media.

According to BBright's Arthuis, the battle between TV formats has been raging for the last several years as the industry wrestles with how to harness progress in TV, streaming and broadcast technology to render images at higher levels of quality.

"As we entered the decade, many companies in the broadcast and content creation community in Europe saw HDR as a nice addition for their workflows. Very few, however, were willing to pay for it. The situation has changed over the past year to 18 months. HDR has become an offering that different industry stakeholders -- especially broadcasters, streaming providers and network service operators -- throughout Europe expect to see as? new technology in proposals," Arthuis said. "Even during trial stages, service providers are looking for ways to integrate HDR into emerging deployments of set-top boxes and other customer premises equipment (CPE)," said Arthuis.

As a result, while interest in HDR has not yet taken European markets by storm, momentum is rapidly building. This is being driven by better coordination among key players in different parts of the industry, according to InterDigital's Allie.

"What HDR has needed most is better alignment across the full ecosystem – which includes device manufacturers, distributors and content owners. Each of these groups are now seeing the new market opportunities -- and requirements -- for acquiring and implementing the proper tools to deliver HDR viewing experiences to viewers in Europe," observed Allie.

Challenges of Delivering SDR and HDR Content

HDR is creating new opportunities to deliver tangible improvements to the viewing experience. However, bringing these experiences to market has called for the industry to go through a learning curve. As service providers and broadcasters consider the benefits of HDR, there are technical considerations that require attention to effectively leverage HDR solutions, according to Ateme's Raulet.

"As it pertains to broadcast, things can become complicated when ensuring HDR technology is compatible with the wide range of equipment that broadcasters or service providers use in workflows. The initial version of the HEVC codecs -- especially those that have already been deployed to market -- have required some updates to be interoperable with HDR. This technical challenge varies from region to region in Europe. That said, network service providers and broadcasters can overcome this challenge through relatively minor adjustments. The most recent HEVC codecs -- those that are entering the market now -- need no adjustments to work with HDR content, said Raulet.

Roundtable attendee, Buland Iqbal with Pakistan's Metro1 News shared how his news station attempted to utilize both SDR and HDR content in their transmission operations. What he discovered is that the archiving and storage of content in both formats has proved complicated and expensive.

"That," explained Allie, "is why with Advanced HDR by Technicolor solutions, we have invested in not only creating a single-stream solution that supports both SDR and HDR formats, but also in ensuring that an effective 'round-trip' capability is available to ensure that SDR conversions to HDR can be returned to their original state with complete fidelity to the original format. The ability to seamlessly convert SDR to HDR -- and back again -- is critical in supporting broadcasters and operators in today's hybrid market. Until the entire market shifts to HDR, simultaneously supporting SDR in a seamless, technically effective and cost-efficient manner is critical."

The complexities and cost realities of upgrading content archives or storage of HDR content requires automated tools that have the ability to tune streams according to specific broadcasters' specifications. This is especially important when it comes to live production -- such as news and sports coverage, noted Cobalt Digital's Noronha.

"The amount of SDR content -- prior to conversion to HDR -- that live broadcasters must deal with at the ingest point is tremendous. The application of Advanced HDR by Technicolor solutions solves this issue by enabling broadcasters to handle SDR content during live production by adding metadata to upconvert the SDR into HDR. This necessary step introduces critical information to enable – in a single stream – a broadcaster to deliver HDR content while retaining the quality of the SDR content," explained Noronha.

FAST Channels Offer Mix of Old and New Content

Paul Erickson, of Erickson Strategy Insights, asked about the role of HDR in the over-the-top (OTT) streaming environment, where the market is seeing a significant rise in free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels rolling out a mixture of legacy content – often in SDR – and new HDR content.

"The technology is all there to take SDR content -- including advertisements -- and upconvert them to HDR in real-time through a single stream," said Noronha. "Advanced HDR by Technicolor technology manages the complexity and allows the signal to deliver content to consumers based on what their devices are capable of displaying. If the end user has a device that is capable of displaying HDR, it will understand the metadata for the enhanced viewing experience. Otherwise, the viewer will receive a perfectly good SDR image."

Arthuis, from BBright, concurred.

"Often a broadcaster has high-quality HDR content, but the advertisements are in various SDR formats. This is a typical use case for broadcasters to upconvert specific SDR advertisements to HDR on the fly so that viewers can enjoy a consistent, high-quality experience," he said.

Live Sports Requires Intelligent Solutions for HDR

Live out-door sporting events represent one of the major points of interest driving network service providers and broadcasters to explore deployment of HDR technologies in European markets. Changing lighting conditions during these events represents a major challenge for broadcast producers

"This is why you need systems to be automated in an intelligent manner. It is not feasible to rely on production staff and manual processes," states Noronha. "Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology make it possible to automate these critical operational tasks. That is exactly what Advanced HDR by Technicolor solutions and Cobalt Digital bring to the table for European broadcasters of live sports."

Advanced HDR by Technicolor solutions, he explained leverage ML algorithms to conduct frame by frame analysis to add dynamic metadata. This provides the production, distribution and consumption equipment with the information necessary for upconversion to HDR.

"This is the intelligence that allows broadcasters to adapt the content into high-quality HDR," says Allie. "Meanwhile, the production team still has the ability to tune the HDR images and expand on the automated stream. But the automated capabilities of Advanced HDR by Technicolor solutions allow this to take place with the speed and flexibility that is needed to support today's live production environments."

This, explained Sinclair Broadcast Group's Aitken, is why HDR in general, and Advanced HDR by Technicolor in particular, makes economic -- and competitive -- sense for broadcasters.

"For broadcasters who put the customer experience at the top of the list, delivering the best visual image is an essential priority. It is what is driving Sinclair Broadcasting Group to ensure that stations implementing ATSC 3.0 do so with Advanced HDR by Technicolor, which is part of the standard," said Aitken.

To learn more about Advanced HDR by Technicolor, visit:

Advanced HDR by Technicolor

Photos: (Click photo to enlarge)

Mickael Raulet, Ateme Guillaume Arthuis, Bbright Ciro Noronha, Cobalt Digital Valerie Allie, Interdigital Mark Aitken, Sinclair Broadcast Group

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