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BDA Calls Ultra HD Blu-ray Specs a 'Toolbox' for Industry

7 Oct, 2015 By: Stephanie Prange

‘Digital bridge’ allows for interaction with services such as Vidity, UltraViolet, iTunes

The specifications for Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc announced in May are a “toolbox” or “container” that allow industry players to offer a premium experience only available on disc, said speakers in a Blu-ray Disc webinar presentation Oct. 7.

“We call this a suite of tools,” explained Ron Martin, VP of operations for Panasonic Hollywood Lab.

Viewing enhancements facilitated by the specs include Dolby Atmos, DTSX and high dynamic range, or HDR, which offers more-vivid contrast or wider dynamic range.

“It includes all of them as a creative pallet,” he said.

The specs accommodate up to 3840 by 2160 resolution; include frame rates up to 60 frames per second; and provide a “digital bridge” — which speakers described as a “copy and export” feature — that allows consumers to make a full-resolution digital copy on the player itself or a hard-drive bound to the UHD Blu-ray player. That copy can then be exported to a service that will allow the consumer to transfer it to another device, such as a phone or tablet. Services can include the new Vidity (developed by the Secure Content Storage Association or SCSA), services employing UltraViolet, iTunes or numerous other services that have deals with content providers.

The UHD specs, speakers emphasized, enable content owners, digital services and consumer electronics companies to employ technology for premium and portable viewing. The specs define a baseline quality mark for UHD, but also allow for HD and SD offerings to be included on the disc (often for extras) if specified on the box, as has been the practice for lower-res content on Blu-ray HD. The UHD specs, however, do not include 3D (i.e. there is not a 3D UHD Blu-ray spec), and it’s up to consumer electronics companies if they would like to make a UHD 3D Blu-ray player.

“We are now in the licensing process and early deployment process,” Martin said, adding that he expects content providers to make release announcements at the upcoming CES in Las Vegas in January.

“We anticipate at CES some very exciting announcements,” Martin said.

When asked if streaming services could offer the same quality, Martin and fellow speaker Benn Carr, VP of corporate strategy and development at DTS, laughed, noting that Blu-ray offers many multiples more gigabytes than streaming does.

“And that’s if you don’t have the kids watching something in the other room,” Carr said.

“That premium experience from the physical media just simply won’t be able to be beat,” Martin said.

Martin and Carr countered the common assertion from digital competitors and others that “disc is dead.”

“My family was watching a film over the top and they had some frustrations,” Martin said. “My daughter grabbed a disc off the shelf and the experience was just remarkable.”

He said those who really love a film want to own it in the best possible quality.

Asked if early adopters would be key to the rollout of UHD Blu-ray as they were with HD, Carr said he didn’t expect such a stepped rollout with this next increase in quality.

“Consumers are already being conditioned,” he said.

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